Ever have one of those days? Where you look at facebook, or twitter and the perfect lives you imagine everyone else living? Their perfect photos and careers and gorgeous weddings and perfect families. Those status updates rolling across your newsfeed: “So grateful for this beautiful day!” “Amazed by my incredible friends!” “Life is such a gift” “I have everything I could ever ever want ha ha ha I am beautiful and skinny and fit and gorgeous and rich thank you universe!” and think to yourself,
Fuck you and your stupid perfect life and fuck your gratitude and manifestation, meditation, solution oriented positivity, everything-is-great-can-do-attitude?
Well. I feel that way sometimes.
I’ve done a lot of work on myself over the years. From yoga, to meditation, to energy healing to therapy, journaling, positive intention, gratitude, vision boards and all that woo-woo and not so woo woo stuff. I’ve done it all. And I used to have this mistaken expectation that one day – one day I’d get to a place where I felt happy every day. Where I only had positive thoughts. Where, even in the midst of chaos I would feel joy and contentment.
Maybe some people live this way. But I definitely don’t.
And for a long time I was really down on myself about it. As though feeling angry, disappointment, frustration and sometimes rage, is a bad thing.
Here’s the thing about gratitude, and any of the positive/possible mindset tools out there – you can’t skip the part where you feel your actual feelings, even the dark, ugly, crappy ones.
I used to try to impose gratitude onto my life before I was ready for it. When I was still feeling disappointment or anger. I’d immediately jump to, “There’s a lesson in here!” “This had to happen!” “I’m so glad this happened – yay this stupid thing that really hurt my feelings and I feel like shit about it – yay yay yay I am SO grateful, I must be exactly where I need to be.”
I tried to force myself to feel good about things, when nothing could be further from the truth.
All that does is create anger and resentment (which leads to feelings of “fuck all you stupid happy people!”).
What I have come to learn (and still need to re-learn at times) is that you can’t fake gratitude. And you can’t shove shitty feelings out of the way to jump into a mindset of possibility. It just doesn’t work that way. You have to take the emotional charge out of your feelings first, before you can move beyond them and gain a healthy perspective.
And the only way to do that is to actually feel. Yup. Deep, dark, scary, painful feelings.
I know when I feel like saying “fuck you” to all the seemingly happy, well adjusted grateful people out there, it’s because I’m not dealing with myself. I’m avoiding feeling something painful, and the longer I try to shove the feelings away, the more resentment and pain is created.
The good news is this:
All of it is ok.
Whatever you feel (or don’t feel) is one hundred percent ok.
It is perfectly ok to
Get pissed off
Have shitty thoughts
Feel like a fucked up person struggling with issues
Have bad days and want to hide out from everybody
Make mistakes. Like really bad fuck ups that you wish you could take back but you can’t.
Feel like a fool
Put foot in mouth
Run out of steam
Take time off
All of it is ok.
As long as you don’t get stuck there.
And the fastest way NOT to get stuck there is to stop pretending that you’re fine when you’re not.
I wasted such a long long time feeling like I had to only think positively. If I didn’t feel good and accepting about everything all the time, and practice all those visualization, positive affirmations, meditation and align my expectations with my thoughts, that not only was I doing something wrong, but something must be wrong with me.
Be pissed. Be filled with rage. Have a moment. Let it out. Acknowledge what you really feel. Ask for help. Have a mini meltdown (preferably in a safe and supportive space and not on set).
When you let yourself be what, who and where you really are, you tend to wade through the crappy stuff a lot faster.
It’s those times where you try to shove everything away and spend so much time and energy trying to appear great! fine! wonderful! that keeps you stuck.
The sooner you let out the darkness, you make room for the light to return.
What makes you a great actor is your ability to have such deep feelings, to be empathetic, to find compassion for the people you portray who are flawed and struggling, just as we all are. So don’t be afraid to have the same empathy and compassion for your own self and your own struggles when you feel less than your best.
When you give yourself the space to go through it, you get to the other side. And that’s when you find the gratitude, the possibility, the lessons learned. You can’t skip the part about feeling it all. As my coach always says, “The only way out is through.”
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