I worked with two clients last week who, at the end of our session, both said something like, “I thought I felt good before. I thought I was okay. Now I feel great. I had no idea how not-good I really felt.
It makes life easier when you get used to certain things – the typical weather where you live, the normal noise levels in your house (especially if you have young children!), the route you drive to your office or the grocery store. Imagine how confusing and exhausting life would be if every single thing were new and got your attention!
We also tend not to notice things that come on gradually. It’s like when you look in the mirror one day and suddenly realize just how long your hair has grown. It didn’t just happen over night, but if you aren’t looking, you don’t notice it.
There are things, though, that we get used to that don’t serve us. Things like our levels of tension and stress. Or being overwhelmed or exhausted.
When we stop noticing things like that, we lose our motivation to do anything to change them.
I remember reading a recommendation years ago to carry a 10-pound bag of potatoes around the grocery store, then put it down at the end and notice the difference in how you feel. That’s a creative way to feel what it’s like to carry around ten extra pounds of body weight.
It’s the same thing with emotional baggage. We often don’t realize the heaviness of something until it’s gone.
The #1 most common comment people make at the end of a session with me is, “I feel so much lighter! So peaceful!”
That’s how it feels to be free of the weight of the past.
Numbing to on-going stresses can seem like a good self-preservation technique, but it’s not really, unless what you’re trying to preserve is the stress itself.
There are some problems with numbing to our discomforts.
- It assumes and perpetuates powerlessness.
The assumption is that we can’t make changes in our lives, that we just have to grin and bear it. That we’re not up to the task of creating something different in our lives. These assumptions lead us to just accept that this is the way life is and we stop trying to change it. We start believing that it’s our destiny, our fate.
- It’s not selective.
You can’t numb the downs without also numbing the ups. You can’t lose the lows without also losing the highs. Life becomes monotone.
- It changes our “normal” set point for what’s okay, what “feeling fine” means.
If we compare this to physical health, it’s like thinking that being lethargic, having a slight headache and your feet hurting are normal. That that’s part of “feeling fine”.
Now imagine that you had a day where you had a lot of energy, felt clear-headed and walked 3 miles with ease. Your benchmark for “feeling fine” would shift. A lot.
Once you saw the difference, you’d be motivated to make changes so that this was your new normal.
Let’s apply this to your inner health. Does “feeling fine” for you include:
- On-going tension in your body, like tightness in your jaw, shoulders, neck, back, or stomach?
- A persistent, low-grade sense of stress or discontent, like having static on the line?
- Near constant chatter in your mind that says things like:
- This will never work.
- I can’t do this.
- I’m so stupid.
- Everybody else is doing better than I am.
- Consistent feelings of fear, nervousness, discomfort, unease?
- A hollow or empty feeling?
- A perpetual sense of struggle?
Did you know that these don’t have to define your normal?
Normal and fine can look very different from that.
When you let go of the stuff, you’re present to what’s happening in the moment.
Some people think that when you’re “being present”, you’re always peaceful, mellow and saint-like.
The truth is that when you’re present, you’re fully immersed in life. You’re present to what’s happening in the moment – both inside and outside of you. You feel it when you’re angry and upset and scared. You feel it when you’re feeling loving, happy, joyous and adventurous.
As I’ve become more and more present, I’ve found that I both laugh and cry more. I also have more times of deep stillness and peace.
Being present this way gives you more authenticity and a greater ability to connect with yourself and with others. Your energy and vitality soar.
You fully engage with your life.
- Write down 5 words to describe how you feel and/or how your body feels right now.
- Do it two more times before you go to bed tonight.
- See what words you wrote down at least twice.
Those words were your normal for today.
Are you happy with your normal?