What’s it felt like to get honest? Deep honesty – you know, the embarrassing, garage-sale-your-ugliness kind of honesty. The kind of honest where the look on your friend’s face (or the pause in their otherwise quick text reply) makes you realize you might need to dial it back. Or not, and see what happens, because this kind of honesty is not only scary, but kind of exhilarating. It is raw, too, like showing up with an open wound at the beach and waiting for sand or salt or something to jump in there and sting.
Living with rawness is tricky, and although the amount of tears it brings is at times shocking, it’s important to realize just why those feelings are so scary.
Your feelings are scary because they have the power to change the course of your story. They have the power to bring incredible, life-altering change.
Life-altering change! Your emotions are the key to unlocking the mysteries of why you’ve stayed stuck in the first place. They are the water that overflows and changes the course of the river, maybe taking out the unsuspecting neighborhood in a town that accommodated a sleazy zoning officer and a dishonest builder – feelings are the 100 year flood. Feelings – your deepest, most stored away feelings in particular – have the power to disrupt the uncomfortable equilibrium for something else.
And something else will always bring about fear, because something else is not a place you’ve traveled before. You don’t know what to pack, or the language, or if you need shots (shots!). It’s not even a place on your map. You have to invent it. Your current story is painful (that’s why you’re seeking freedom in the first place), but something else is just plain terrifying. Which is exactly why you stay stuck in patterns you don’t like – because familiar pain still has the comfort of being familiar.
The paradox surrounding freedom is a precarious one. In order to meet your needs for connection, you must interact with other people, which means that you will be bumping (and maybe even grinding? ack!) up against their needs, opinions and expectations. As a highly sensitive person, you’ll feel these expectations and opinions deeply – so deeply, in fact, you hardly realize how you waltz around your own needs in order to fulfill others’. It’s hard to see this pattern because it’s like the air you breathe. And so the paradox is that you must interact with others and notice their needs, while at the same time valuing your own, which sometimes means choosing not to meet someone else’s needs.
Which can be painful. And feel dark. And shameful.
And liberating, intoxicating and beautiful.
(Or both, which is the paradox).
Connecting to your feelings is scary because your deepest desires threaten to change the very fabric of your life – the one you’ve been weaving since the beginning. When kitting, it’s important to look at this fabric you’re creating and understand how it’s coming together. Months can go by while you smile away at your lovely tapestry, its beautiful weave as it cascades into your lap, needles flying to get finished. But unless you check the fit along the way, you make something that is beautiful to look at but fits like a nightmare. Something that is lovely to touch and see on a hanger and a complete and utter fashion tragedy. Why? Because even though you made something beautiful, you didn’t assure it fit YOU.
When you disengage from your feelings you risk weaving the tapestry of your life together in a way that doesn’t fit you. And if you wear ill-fitting clothes for too long, you forget who you really are underneath them.
So really, then, the fear of the something else is worth it. Fear, like all of your emotions, is just part of the committee of yourself that keeps you in check. It’s the part of you that says, Hold on justasec. You have no idea where this is headed. You should stop. Which is probably the nicest version of your fear. Usually, it just screams nonsense (or insults) at you until you stop and take a breath.
So then, sit down and take a breath. Thank your fear – after all, you are still alive today in part because of fear. Fear kept you from cliff jumping that day with big waves. It called you a cab when you were too drunk to drive. It had you put down the 6-inch heels and try some gold high tops instead. Fear is good. It means you’re still alive. But it’s also loud and dramatic and gets in the way sometimes.
Thank your fear and then tell it to sit the hell down. Thank it and send it to the back of the room. Remind it that you’ve got this (because you do, and you’re doing quite a marvelous job, don’t you think?), and so you won’t need its services anymore today. You have important work to do, listening to your feelings, and you can’t do it when your fear is screaming at you to please just turn the TV on so we don’t have to FEEL so much anymore!
Getting freedom means getting honest, and getting honest means getting raw and exposed with truth that has the power to change you. You can do this, and we’re all in this together, remember? This week, start to notice how your story might change if you really listen to and respect your most honest feelings. Write it down. You don’t have to act on them yet. Next week, we’ll dive into faith in order to give us that courage we need to take what we’ve learned and weave some freedom out of them. Carry on!