Everyone has their good and bad sides. We are human, that’s our nature. Nobody is perfect and nobody is the opposite. It seems to me that when we are in a good place, the other side of us is starting to sabotage us. And when we are not in a good place, we feel even worse because we know that some days we aren’t like this, why am I like this now?
When the two sides of us are constantly fighting, it is creating resistance and energy that is stuck. Instead of resisting what we naturally are, if we could just let it be, we would release a lot of energy to our lives. Suddenly we maybe wouldn’t be so low or tired. Suddenly we would find inspiration easier and joy would be more familiar than anxiety. Because everything is eventually about energy… Our energy determines everything in our life. How we see ourselves is also how we see the world. We are huge goggles that we see the world through. And when there is dirt in the goggles we might not know how to let ourselves be happy.
Beatles had it all figured out. Just let it be (happy).
Life moves all the time. In our minds it might move forward, but what if it just doesn’t have a direction? What if it just moves?
It’s a stressful environment to live in a mindset where we are all the time going “forward”. Or think that we have to go forward. That makes life just a means to an end. What if instead of “moving forward”, life would be just “moving”. No direction needed. The movement is already what is needed. Because since we are made of cells and cells are made of atoms and we know that atoms consist of protons, neutrons and electrons that are all the time vibrating and living and they are happy like that, why are we making life so complicated by thinking we need to move forward? We are already moving! All the time!
Everything in our body is moving all the time and that’s the purpose of the body, the cell, the atom.
Why is it then that our mind makes our life miserable every now and then? By making us believe that we are not enough, we don’t have direction, we need to do something different or we need to change? When our whole existence is already happy just being alive? Or maybe it’s not even happy, but just neutral, doing it’s thing, moving. Not forward with a goal in mind, but just moving. And that’s the whole “goal”. Just moving…
Not moving forward or backward but just making one motion after the other. Because when we really think about it, there is no forward or backward, there is just moving.
Our bodies are wiser than our minds, but we are letting the mind often take over a little bit too much…
Today I am going to stop myself every time I realize I have gotten into the mindset of “moving forward”. I am going to stop and take a breather and remind myself that everything is okay, electrons and protons are circling around the atoms in my body, and I am moving. That gives me peace. Imaging and feeling that the body is alive. Starting from the atoms…
It was the end of 2018 when I visited Bali. It’s funny to reflect on it now, two years after… But somehow I’m drawn into that trip right now. Bali seemed a bit blurry to me. It was a time in my life where I couldn’t let go of my inner struggles and actually ENJOY the place. I was stuck in my head and it gave me blurry goggles. Seeing the Bali island in its true glory wasn’t possible.
Instead of feeling bad about not being able to enjoy the trip to the fullest, I have come to peace with it. It was a trip that was ment to be like that for me. I was in my own bubble, wanting to, or actually, NEEDING to control many things. But regardless of the mental absence, I still feel I went through many important lessons during that trip. Be it in my mind or in the physical.
For example, every time I felt anxious or bad, or uncomfortable feelings in general, I let them dominate my life. Those moments could last for hours or even days. I let myself stay very low. And I can understand it now. I didn’t have the skills to rise above those feelings. Maybe that’s why it feels so nice to go through this trip now. Because I have come a long journey from that! Being in those downs, lows, unpleasant feelings, it is impossible to see the bigger picture. And now, two years later, the picture has become clearer.
Due to my description, it would be misleading to leave the text here. Because it was not the only experience I had at Bali; feeling miserable or suffering. I had also great times. But the general energy was low, and I let that be the canvas for my being. Taking unpleasant emotions too seriously led me into believing them. That there was something wrong in me, or in the trip, because I wasn’t just happy all the time.
And that is why I will let this Bali trip always be my teacher. It showed me that like the trip, life is not supposed to feel happy all the time. I experienced and outlived weird growing pains and lows, and it was still (or maybe just because of that) an important and amazing adventure.
I was walking to the grocery store. I had my headphones on and I listened to good music. I was in a good mood. Just enjoying the music and the upcoming food haul. I love food shopping!
The next thing I know, two people are approaching me. A man and a woman, and they started talking to me. I am usually quite open to chat with other people, but this time, I didn’t feel like it. I didn’t feel like stopping and I just passed the couple and continued my walk. I smiled and tried to show them the basic “not now, thank you” -gesture (the one useful with face-to-face fundraisers, heh…).
It was a bit weird situation. I sensed some tension from them when I just walked by. I think I was too deep in my world to react quickly enough for them, and since the situation was kinda over after my gesture, I just thought that the best thing to do was to continue walking away.
I still had my headphones on and I kept on walking when I started to hear shouting. I did think that maybe it’s them, shouting, but I didn’t really react.
The shouting continued and I took my headphones off and turned around. There was the woman. She had gotten pretty close to me and she was yelling at me. On the street, full on yelling at me. I was surprised of that aggression but managed to ask her “What is it?”. She yelled back at me some kind of a question.
I told her that “I don’t speak Swedish, I am sorry”. She looked at me sarcastically, and said, “Du ÄR svenskt” (a.k.a. you are swedish). With some sort of pride of apparently looking like a Swede I told her again that “I don’t understand what you are saying”. She continued to yell at me: “Var ligger —-“, (“where is—“), so, she was asking for directions. (I understand Swedish to some degree, but I’m still quite shy with it..:D.)
I told her once again, “I don’t speak Swedish, I am not from here, sorry” and she started to quit. I put my headphones back on and she went away.
The reason I am writing about this is, because, well, it was an interesting situation, and to the contrary of my previous experiences, I felt amazing after this encounter. I’ll explain why.
Five years ago when I had just moved to Helsinki, I had another yelling incident. I was traveling in a tram and I had unconsciously sat on a seat which was for handicaps, elderly, and pregnant women. An older woman started to yell at me because I was sitting in a wrong seat. I got so embarrassed and I told her “I am sorry, my mistake, I am so sorry…”. I felt like the worst person on earth. (Dramatic, not at all.)
When I got home, that incident was still very strongly alive in me and I cried. I felt like I was bad to the bones. For making that kind of a “major” mistake! “You should be ashamed!” It was very difficult for me to experience doing something “wrong”. I took her words as the truth, and even further, to the point where I thought my whole identity was purely just BAD. I felt so shameful.
For me, the reaction from any confrontation has always been an intense feeling of shame. Even with things I haven’t had anything to do with. Because, maybe I did do something…? I have always admired people who are able to defend themselves in an intense situation. People with “thick skin”. Who can just understand that they don’t have to take any sh*it from others because they have boundaries for themselves.
Why I felt so good after this yelling encounter was because I realized that the unnecessary weight of shame or fear of not doing everything like a good girl is now welcome to exit from my life. I am allowed to have my boundaries.
What I also realized from this latest yelling incident was that it was not about me. She had all the rights to be upset with me but she didn’t have the right to yell at me. My part was to realize this and not lower myself to be the one to blame, because I wasn’t the one acting mean. I didn’t have to take that. In this yelling incident, contrary to the others, I could see more clearly. I could see that, hold on. I am not responsible for the other person’s anger. Of course, in this situation I could have been more sharp and stop and help them out, but I didn’t. Does that make me a bad person? Am I obligated to always help? Am I alive to be there for everyone, always? Someone could argue and say, well, yes you are.
But when a person is choosing not to engage with others, are they deserving to be yelled at? Of course not! I realized that we are all responsible for our own emotions. She was angry at me, but was that a reason or a justification to yell at me? No.
We make different kinds of decisions all the time. Maybe they are not always the best ones, or maybe they are! One way or another, we can always learn from them! But while learning, it is not necessary to be yelled at, or to be the person who gets others’ emotions projected onto them.
When that happens, it is our right to understand that you are not responsible for others’ reactions to emotions. You are responsible for doing your best and choosing when to be there for others and when not to. You are not obligated to fulfill random obligations from others. You can, and to some degree, that’s even admirable. But you are not a bad person if you don’t always feel like doing so.
The world keeps giving us situations to practice our boundaries. And I saw this incident as a true life lesson.
So, random person projecting your emotions on me: thank you for teaching me an important insight.
I am not a bad person if I am not always the most helpful person on earth. And it is not a reason to be yelled at, or a reason to feel bad about myself.
Recently I bumped into a really interesting video about THE spiritual awakening. I wanted to write about it here to reflect on my own journey with it. I find it awesome to be able to talk about this awakening process and its stages by actual names! It helps a lot, at least it helped me a lot.
Some time ago I came up with the term “second puberty” about the whole awakening process, because it truly feels like it. It’s also just as normal and different to all of us like puberty. The reason I wanted to reflect on this topic is that awakening is nothing special, really. It is maybe displayed like it. But it should be more widely talked about, so that maybe it could help a lot of people who go through sudden feelings and shifts in their being. We are growing and it is not always pleasant. Our brain is LITERALLY changing to shift perspective. And it’s something to talk about!
Spiritual awakening, or just awakening, is not something fuzzy, only-for-some-people, it is a part of the human evolution. Some of us just go through it younger and some of us older. We are now living the times where it is possible on a collective level to develop spiritually. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a good example of this evolution (more about it here).
Self-actualization (the highest stage in the hierarchy of needs) is ultimately the spiritual awakening. What it simply means is that we as humans become aware of ourselves, our behaviour and our individual needs. We no longer seek approval from the expectations of society for example, but we start to seek internal balance. We simply start serving our souls instead of our egos (if this sounds weird spiritual hoo-haa, I get it! But, I truly recommend researching more about the topics of the human psyche, ego, awareness, etc. It is such an interesting world!). And, you can always just stay tuned for posts later on covering those topics! ❤ They are coming, I promise! 😉
Anyway, for now, let’s get back to the topic: awakening.
Christina Lopes, The Heart Alchemist, lists 6 stages in the spiritual awakening (here), and I will use them as a base here too, because I found her stages very helpful. The explanations are my own reflections and experiences of those stages.
The wake-up! You kinda just wake up. This can happen slowly or just like that. I started to realize that hold on, there is more to life than the external world we are born into. There has to be! We are not just ment to be robots that go to work, struggle, and die. What happened to me was that I for example didn’t really want to party anymore, I started to be interested in terms like soul and universe and I just felt different. I got curious about self-development.
The Bliss. You start to see life trough lenses of bliss. You get glimpses of bliss, connection and happiness. I started to understand that everything is connected. I wanted to spread positive vibes only and I remember being amazed by how everyone else seems not to understand the beauty of life. Like all we have is this moment! Can’t you see!
The Dark Night. After the bliss times, you are eventually going to face some darker times. This is the time where I started to go through my baggage. From childhood until the current life. It can be heavy. But we have to face the things we haven’t yet so that we can free ourselves. It can feel like the shittiest time of your life, but it is necessary for growth. Maybe you feel like you’re depressed, anxious, loosing it. Or maybe you are growing. You can look at hard times from many perspectives, but ultimately they are in your life to bring clarity and to free you from yourself. I personally felt like wtf, what did I do wrong here? Where did the happiness days go? I was blaming myself about feeling shitty, but now I understand that it was a part of this journey. Of course you need to dive deep for a while. And the more you resist it (like I did by blaming myself), the longer that period is lasting.
The Void. The Void is here to give us a breather. It is the time where we are probably loosing our identities, just feeling like we are completely lost in life. It is the time where you have gotten out of the dark times, but you’re still just feeling very weird about life. Like what is this really all about? Does anything matter? Or does everything matter? I have personally felt so much frustration in this phase. And resistance. This is the time to calm down and give yourself time. Patience.
The Groundedness. You start feeling peace in yourself. You are more accepting and you have more empathy not only for others but for yourself, too. You are more mature. You are coming out of the “second puberty”. You are more emotionally stable and you can handle the highs and the lows of life with strength and understanding. You are grateful.
The Purpose. You are finding deep meaning in yourself which leads to meaningful work in the world. You are finding the things you like, are skilled at and are motivated towards. How cool! You realize you being alive has a purpose and you want to share that. No matter what you do as your work, you are enjoying it to the fullest and finding meaning and joy. You have deep roots in yourself and your light shines not only for you but for others as well. You are basically a perfect human being. Ha! Nope that’s not true. It is just that, you truly realize to take full responsibility of your life and handle things with calmness and joy.
What a ride, huh?
Maybe I am in the midst of the stage 3, 4 and 5. Definitely experiencing all of these stages anyway every now and then. They don’t go linearily. But, as I grow, the line seems to go like this:
So there are dips, but the resilience from the other stages is there to continue the growth again. This whole experience is really personal and not everyone may even go through these stages. Some of us also feel these stages more deeply, and for some it can be very light. So again, like a puberty! I felt puberty heavily anyway!
This was my reflection on the “spiritual” awakening, or the “second puberty”. Would be great to know if you are going through it, too. I really liked the whole concept of the stages. It’s a nice tool to reflect with. And, if you want a deeper take on this, I highly recommend the video from Christina Lopes. She is amazing!
I have recently noticed that I panic quite easily when I feel that I am not feeling ok.
This urge to immediately feel ok finds its way to my consciousness and it makes me want to change my feelings as quickly as possible.
Behind this there is a fear of not being the best version of myself all the time.
Is this the good old perfectionism talking?
Maybe my reactions to my upsetting feelings are actually the ones creating my upsetting feelings.
Because even when I now know, feelings are just feelings and their mission is to teach us about ourselves and then continue their way, I still actually haven’t learned it yet.
Learned it deeply enough to actually live it when I am faced with those uncomfortable feelings.
My way of getting out of upsetting feelings is to distract myself with something to watch or move or eat or talk to somebody.
And as good as these methods can be, they are actually distracting me from just feeling that feeling and then letting it go.
This is quite an exciting insight to have.
Because I have thought that I actually have the skills to sit trough some nasty feelings and understand that they just need awareness to be seen.
I remember for example this situation from last summer where I was feeling low and bad about myself. I really didn’t even know why. But, I asked my sister who was home at the time to sit with me and help me go trough those feelings. She just sat there with me and held the space for it.
I had never really done it that way. To actually ask someone to join me and help me in that situation.
And I noticed that it was a big step for me to come from a place where distractions was the main way, to actually face the feelings.
But now I can see deeper.
Maybe that event made me think a little too highly of myself and made me believe that I am mastering this emotion awareness.
When actually, what I have now started to realize is that the moments when we are feeling emotions, “good” and “bad”, are constant.
The true work happens in the daily life when we can consciously breathe and make space for every emotion.
And as big of a step my last summer experience was, one big emotion release doesn’t make my distraction-pattern change. It requires repetition to change a subconscious pattern. Because often (or always) these patterns have been there for a very long time.
This is quite cool actually.
Because now I can truly start to listen to my emotions and be aware of them, maybe even learn from them.
The reason I have panicked or gotten upset about my feelings is that I haven’t let them just be what they are. I have attached too many meanings to them.
Or I have drawn an illusion in my head that I have failed as a person because of these upsetting feelings and emotions.
Like I would only be worthy if I felt only happy emotions?
But am I not then blocking this whole other side of me when I am not letting myself feel all the emotions there is?
I have basically forced myself into this role that I need to be kind, happy, easy and helpful all the time. Especially for others, and in their eyes.
Isn’t this ridiculous?
It is understandable, but also ridiculous. And in some level it is a quite fake role that I have been playing without knowing.
Now what follows is a reflection which I have learnt through my journey, through psychotherapy and healers (Candace Van Dell for example to name a few).
The “always just try to be happy, easy and kind”-role play comes from childhood, when there never really was any emotion mirroring. Everything was just constantly “ok”. Which then, was the way.
But now we know better.
We know now that it is really important for children to learn how to express their feelings, so that they are not suppressing them. This is how adults show kids that emotions truly are just emotions. Without feelings mirrored back from the kid to the adult and back to the kid, the kid slowly starts to think that emotions are scary and they shouldn’t be shown to anybody. Because it is not easy for a child to express feelings, unless they are guided and given enough attention.
A simple example of mirroring:
A kid is quiet and distant when a caregiver is driving him home from school.
Adult: I see that you are upset about something. Are you feeling sad about something?
Kid: Yes… I feel sad. I didn’t see my friend at school today.
Adult: I understand. It is very understandable that youre feeling sad because of that. And I see that its making you upset. But it will pass and you will see your friend hopefully tomorrow. Sadness is a feeling that doesnt always feel good. We all feel sadness, we humans feel different feelings. Do you feel better at all?
Kid: Yes, I feel better. I have so many things to tell my friend tomorrow!
Afterwords, a hug or a touch would be very optimal after handling an emotion to strenghten the experience of still being loved regardless of a sad feeling.
When a child is left alone with his feelings, the feelings can be so strong that the way to handle them is to start blocking them.
And so the role building and playing starts.
Some of us develop a “kind”-role, some of us develop a “distant”-role, some of us develop a “bully”-role. Even a goofy clown is one of these roles… A role is anything that is build to distract the kid from the emotions.
“Mom likes when I am funny, I will always just be funny.” “Dad is calm when I am kind, otherwise he is just yelling, I will always just be kind.”
And as we can imagine, these roles are built because the parents and caregivers weren’t emotionally aware themselves.
Luckily, we are living in the 21st century and the awareness is raising all the time.
Isn’t this the most important and interesting thing ever?
I am really starting to understand that there is something very interesting behind this emotion awareness.
And that the most important thing here too is to be kind towards myself in this journey towards emotional awareness.
In this journey towards a more mindful aspect of emotions.
Whenever I am now catching myself having an upsetting emotion, I will stop and breathe and listen to it. And most importantly, be with it.
Like I would be parenting myself. I can even act the conversation from the example to myself. This way I am learning that I can handle the emotions I am feeling and I can just be there through them.
Not escaping, not distracting myself.
Just being there.
Becoming friends with every feeling there is to experience.
Becoming ok with not being ok.
And that way, I am accepting my whole self.
Not just the happykindeasy-me, but the whole me with every emotion and feeling as it is.
Trap meaning the place where you find yourself after trying too hard to find yourself.
By exploding with new ideas and understandings of myself I have yet again let myself down by losing myself in this process. This often happens to me, I have noticed.
These are the phases.
First, I feel anxious about something and I want to fix it. Then, I indulge myself with new knowledge and analyze myself out of the anxiety. Then, I become anxious again because I have all the knowledge I should be healing my anxiety with but somehow I am even more anxious than I was when I began finding the solutions for it.
It is as draining as that sentence.
And still I am finding myself in these phases quite often.
It is so difficult for me to recognize when to just let go and when to dive in to find new ways of healing myself.
I love healing myself, reflecting about emotions and thoughts and finding new approaches towards wellbeing. But there is a limit in that, too. I need to give space for the new approaches to spark in me.
The overwhelming state of being when I am stuffing myself with another self-help video or workshop is not very optimal for health no matter how much healing or inner work I am doing.
Balance balance balance.
So I guess what I can learn from this once again is that as great as learning new habits and routines can be, the real greatness still lies inside.
It is nowhere else than inside.
And the way towards the lost alignment is not even that complicated. It is right there.
When I have trust and stop pushing too hard, I will find back again.
And maybe then will I even integrate some of the new things I have learned into my life.
But this time it is not done with agony, it is done with trust.
Five years ago when I moved to Helsinki and started studying, something happened.
I was in a new environment. I had moved into a new apartment by myself and I had started studying in a new school. I kinda started over, but I just didn’t know how. Eventually, I found myself completely lost.
The thing is. When you have lived most of your life in your own shadows; not really connected with yourself mentally or emotionally, it is quite a journey to start finding out who you really are.
And this was the journey I was about to take on.
My first years of studying went on in a blur. I was living my life from an autopilot. I managed to complete my tasks and from the surface pull it all together, but in the middle of my third year, I couldn’t handle myself anymore.
I started to get panic attacks and in the beginning of 2017, I fell into a hole. A hole of fear, anxiety and depression. From there I didn’t know what to do. I was in this zone where nothing really mattered. I felt so weird feeling so down. I mean, everything was on a way “okay”. But inside, I felt that I really wasn’t okay. I had lost my fire.
Fortunately I knew myself well enough that the zone I was in was something I didn’t want to stay in. So I reached out for help. I saw a psychiatric who prescribed me medicine for anxiety. I took that medicine for three months and as a quick fix, it helped me to get out of the hole for a while.
But what helped me more was a change. I was moving to Amsterdam to study as an exchange student for five months. The change helped me to get some clarity in my head.
During my exchange I started to question everything. For example partying and drinking alcohol. I was often the one who didn’t show up to gatherings or had something else when there would have been a chance to go to a pub crawl or meet other exchange students. I wasn’t interested in getting waisted.
Fading out from social events in general brought me to a slightly lonely place, but there I wanted to stay. I felt that it was necessary for me to get to know myself better, and in a new city it was from time to time somewhat fruitful.
Having adventurous experiences and time for myself weren’t unfortunately enough to lift me from the hole back to light. Because after returning back home, I fell into the darkness again. This time though, I didn’t want to get the quick fix.
Instead, I started to question myself. My behavior. Why did I do things certain way, why did I live my life the way I did. I was in agony to find out what the hell to do with myself. With this life.
I reached out to find answers from the external stuff. This was something I did a lot. I searched for external changes that would change me from the inside. I though that if I just had something interesting to do, I would feel alive again. But that’s not the whole story. What I know now is that everything starts from the inside.
In spring 2018 I started psychotherapy. I went to talk to a therapist once a week. I was actually very eager to do this. I learned that I am a person who needs reflection a lot and I was happy to get some tools to understand myself from a deeper level. The therapy sessions helped me to open up my mind. I got new perspectives and reasons for my inner storms.
And after some time, I started to realize that the reason behind my darkness was a really critical self-talker.
This talker inside of me ruined everything for me because I believed it.
I believed that all those fears and insecurities it pointed out were true. I believed that I was actually that negative self-talker. And sadly in some ways that made me hate myself.
And because I was suffering so much, I couldn’t see the love around me.
The good thing is, when I started to understand myself, I could start noticing that critic inside of me. That it was just a conditioned voice. And that it was not me.
This opened up a whole new world. I started to realize that I wasn’t broken or a bad person. I just had listened to the critic for a bit too long. The shame, the fears, the sadness, the beliefs of being faulty or just in general, bad.
I also understood that being aware of that critic was only half of the story. Practice is needed to make anything habitual. So I needed to change the pattern from believing my anxiety to start understanding it and then letting it go.
Now, instead of listening to that critical voice inside of my head, I am learning to become more compassionate towards it. And what I really am learning is, is to become more compassionate towards myself.
With compassion I am slowly feeling the fire again. And it feels awesome. It’s like my fire is now getting more oxygen to burn instead of the water that I have been drowning it with.
Some occasional water spills still occur. But now there is more oxygen to prevent the water from shutting the fire completely down.
Looking back, I understand. I understand that I was afraid of myself. I was so stuck in my head that I became my own enemy.
And that is okay. I clearly needed the wake up call from the identification with the inner critic.
So in many ways I am grateful for the anxiety I have been faced with. It has now started to find ways out and oh boy how much I have learnt from this journey!
I am grateful for the inner critic for teaching me that everything starts from the inside. And that when we are suffering, there’s actually nothing to be afraid of. That suffering is just a wake up call to learn necessary lessons on the journey towards ourselves.