“It’s all gone terribly wrong”

But what if it hasn’t?

When we’re in the “other half” of our 50/50 emotional life, sometimes we may think something has gone terribly wrong, that maybe we’re wrong, that our life is wrong, that everything is wrong.

I want to offer that life and our human, emotional experience is 50/50 – 50% “good/positive” and 50% “bad/negative.”

It has to be this way because we wouldn’t know what “good” is without “bad.”

I think we’ve been taught incorrectly that our emotional lives should be “good” most, if not all, of the time. So when something happens and we feel the “bad” 50%, we think something has gone terribly wrong.

But if that “bad” 50% is supposed to be there, has anything really gone wrong?

No. We’re just in the 50% that sucks sometimes. And that’s okay. We’re okay. It’s all okay. We’re in the human experience.

It may not feel okay in the moment, but when we can stay with the negative feeling and allow and process our emotions, that’s when we’ll move forward. 

Avoiding the negative emotion can hurt us. Instead of experiencing the emotion, we buffer: we seek other things to make us feel better. Other things, like false pleasures, we don’t necessarily want, like over-eating, over-drinking, binging Netflix, over-Instagraming, over-working, over-spending, etc. 

We do these actions instead of allowing and processing an uncomfortable emotion like boredom, loneliness, shame, fear, jealousy.

But experiencing the negative emotion can help us. When we’re willing to experience the range of emotions, we open our lives up so much more. That’s when we know we can handle any emotion.

When we open up to the 50/50, we get some authority over it. Then we don’t have to be in a hurry to seek false pleasure or change things impulsively to feel better. 

Your turn: How would your life be different if you recognize that your emotional life is 50/50 and that’s okay? Are you open to allowing and processing negative emotions instead of avoiding or resisting them? What would you be more willing to do for yourself if you embraced the 50/50 of your emotional life?

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What’s on your mind? It can be powerful to learn from each other and our common struggles when it comes to our practice of self-care–or just being a human being. If you have something you’re struggling with and would like some perspective, share it here. Your issue may be chosen and addressed in the next post–it’ll be totally anonymous.

Why should I feel uncomfortable?

Stop buffering.

This week we’re talking about buffering. What is buffering? 

We buffer to avoid feeling emotional pain or uncomfortable emotions.

When we buffer, we use external things to change how we feel internally. This means engaging in an action to put a buffer between us and a feeling we don’t want to feel. The action could be something like overeating, overdrinking, overspending, over-Instagraming, over-Netflixing, overworking, over-cleaning, or over-exercising. It could be anything if we’re using that thing/action to prevent ourselves from feeling an emotion.

These things become false pleasures that have a net-negative outcome: When we overeat, we gain weight. When we overdrink, we end up with hangovers and half of the next day is ruined. When we overspend, we go into debt or don’t meet our savings goals.

If buffering is what we do to avoid pain/discomfort, it makes sense that when we stop buffering, we’ll feel pain/discomfort. But most of us don’t understand this, which makes it almost impossible to stop buffering.

We have to be willing to feel uncomfortable in order to move past our buffers.

An analogy for this is like stepping into a house and turning on the lights and the house is a mess. The obvious and easiest answer is to turn the lights back off (to buffer) so the mess will “go away.” But the mess doesn’t go away–you just can’t see it now because the lights are off.

It’s similar with emotions. Avoiding an emotion doesn’t make the emotion go away—it just helps us not to see or feel it. We pretend it isn’t there, but it is there, and it’s there for a reason.

In order to figure out the reason, we need to stop buffering and turn the lights on. Then we need to remember that yes, the mess seems overwhelming, but we can handle it, we can clean it up. Turning the lights off prevents us from cleaning because we can’t see. Going unconscious by buffering has the same effect.

When we stop buffering, we’ll likely experience temporary pain. And the pain isn’t caused by the lack of buffering. What we need to do is stop buffering ourselves long enough to find the cause of the pain. 

When we give up our buffers, we’ll still get upset, but we’ll deal with it differently. We won’t head for the ice cream, which will just make us feel sick or regretful. We’ll deal with it by becoming aware and examining why we’re upset. Soon, we won’t even want ice cream or chips because the pleasure we get from food—or whatever buffering actions we’re doing—actually diminishes, and the pleasure we get from taking care of ourselves and fueling ourselves increases.

When we trade the false pleasures in our life for real well-being, we gain confidence, and that confidence creates more confidence, which creates even more confidence.

Instead of using external things to change how we feel, we can use our minds to change how we feel. Or we can even choose to feel and process the emotion in the moment.

Your turn: What feelings have you been avoiding? What are the false pleasures you’ve been engaging in? In what way would your life be better if you didn’t have these false pleasures? Are you ready to stop buffering and willing to feel some discomfort instead, to move towards real well-being?

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Work with me: Want to see how self-care is transformative and can help create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 45-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

What about feeling happy all the time?

Life is 50/50.

I want to offer that life and our human experience is 50/50 — 50% “good/positive” and 50% “bad/negative.”

I think we’ve been taught incorrectly that our lives should be good most, if not all, of the time. So when something happens that’s in the “bad” 50%, we think something has gone terribly wrong. But if that 50% is supposed to be there, has anything really gone wrong?

If you felt happy all the time, you would have to feel happy even through things like the death of a loved one, an accident, an illness, someone betraying you. And all of these things, my friends, are part of the human experience. Things that we basically sign up for when we’re born. 

In our effort to feel happy all the time, we stay away from discomfort that could help us evolve and motivate us to make our dreams come true. If we can accept that emotional balance means that 50% of the time, we’ll be on the other side of happy, we might be willing to fail epically and try courageously. That is the normal human experience.

Our emotions are an indicator of what’s going on for us. To be authentic, to have a true relationship with our life, is also to be willing to experience negative emotion 50% of the time. If we’re willing to do that without trying to escape it, we’ll remove all the buffers in our life, and at the same time, we’ll remove all the negative consequences that come with them.

What are buffers? When we buffer, we use something to distract ourselves from feeling an uncomfortable emotion. A buffer could be over-eating, over-drinking, over-Instagraming, over-Netflixing, over-spending, over-cleaning. We do these actions instead of allowing and processing an uncomfortable emotion like boredom, loneliness, shame, fear, jealousy. 

We avoid doing the harder things (like processing our feelings), and instead, we gain weight, we get hangovers, we go into debt or don’t meet our savings goals, we throw away time consuming other people’s content when we could be creating our own, or doing something to take care of ourselves, like going for a walk, run, doing yoga, meditating, or cooking a healthy meal. 

When we allow ourselves to feel discomfort, we will decrease our buffers and the negative consequences they produce. In fact, when we allow ourselves to really feel our emotions, we get to know ourselves in a much deeper way.

What happens when we get to know ourselves in a much deeper way? We start finding the causes of our unhappiness, and then we can start to change them, if we want to. This is sustainable, unlike engaging in the false pleasures we’ve been using to buffer before. 

For example, when you limit your drinking, you don’t experience hangovers and get to feel good in your body. When you watch your eating, you get the pleasure of not worrying about your weight. These results are real pleasures, and it’s ongoing and gets better and better.

Your turn: How would you think about your life differently if you accepted that life is 50/50? What if nothing has gone wrong when you’re in the other 50% that’s not “good”? What would you be more willing to do for yourself if you embraced the 50/50 of life?

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Work with me: Want to see how self-care is transformative and can help create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 45-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.