In recent conversations with friends, classmates and clients, there has been a recurring theme about the unexpected and inexplicable emergence of negative feelings. Personally, my intention has been to accept surfacing unpleasant feelings as ribbon-wrapped invitations: to observe, shift and grow. However, after a recent onslaught of these pesky "invites" and my absolute inability to surrender to them, let alone accept them as gifts, I decided to dive in and take a closer look.
My personal negative thought patterns go a little something like this:
Why does everything go to hell, right when I'm getting into the flow of life? Is it an unavoidable comeuppance? Why can't I sustain an "all good" status? What is wrong with me? Am I cursed? Am I guilty of self-sabotage?
I've played host to these ugly thoughts far more often than I'd like to admit. If you are unfamiliar with this line of thinking, I am thrilled to know you've escaped the depleting clutches of self-admonishment and limiting thoughts. However, if any of this strikes a chord of familiarity, then you know the wicked downward spiral that can be initiated here.
After objectively observing (investigating) my patterns, I discovered the following cycle: a new, exciting, promising or joyful "something" occurs and it sends off the metaphorical pendulum, into a wide swing in a wonderful and positive direction.
In this moment I am child-like, riding the swing and soaking up the magic that resides at the greatest height of its arc. In that blissful instant before the descent begins, I believe I can fly. I am bursting with possibilities.
Because I am so preoccupied with and consumed by this experience, I become untethered. The pendulum, having completed this leg of it's journey, does what pendulums do. It returns, back past center, to the opposite side where darker feelings reside, and things begin to feel... yucky.
Since I have basked in the fresh joys at the new wider edge of my (pendulum's) positive swing, I now zoom past the center point, cruise through all of my known ugly and negative thoughts and inch further into newly uncovered dark and painful places. This would be the point in the metaphor where I'm becoming particularly perturbed and my inner-victim dialogue rages.
What the (insert favorite expletive here)? Can I not enjoy or expand my life without being smacked down...put in my place by the Universe? Why am I being punished for self-improvement?
Not my finest moments, but looking into them without judgment or shame has led to an understanding about what is happening here. As a student and practitioner of hypnotherapy, I have come to greatly respect the power and influence of the subconscious mind: that part of me that remembers every tiny detail of every single experience I have ever had. The part of me that has categorized these experiences, made decisions about the world based on these experiences and created programs it deems will best support me (protect me) as I move through life.
Clinical Hypnotherapist, Dr. Laura DiGiorgio states "No matter how beneficial for you new ideas may be, the fact that they are different than what you have become accustomed to, may cause you to experience inner tension, discomfort and subconscious resistance to this new idea."
Although the methods of my subconscious mind can be heavy-handed and its intel (at times) flawed, I recognize it as an ally, not an adversary. When I enjoy something new and wonderful, closely followed by a plunge into uncomfortable and negative feelings, this is an indicator to me that parts of myself (for some reason) don't trust or believe in the new data.
Amid the yuck, this truth whispers into my discomfort. The blessing of this truth shines a spotlight on areas that require further attention and can benefit from additional personal work. However, before I can begin to focus on any of that "next" work, I must first get back to center – return to stillness – so I can regroup.
But this dang pendulum is swinging wide. Even if I choose calm and don't allow extreme feelings to perpetuate its momentum, my miniscule comprehension of physics tells me I'm in for a lengthy back-and-forth-ride. Ugh. There has got to be a better way...and perhaps there is.
Maybe I don't have to simply wait it out in frustration, berating myself. Maybe I can practice grounding down into the present moment, continually reminding myself to Be. Here. Now. By accepting where I am at present, better yet, embracing where I am at present – not praying to be somewhere else, not longing to feel something different, not plotting how I'll do it all different next time, just being fully committed to the present moment...BAM – I've activated the magnet!
What magnet? Well, this part I made up and the physics may not be valid, but go with me here...
By being fully present, I've magnetized a center point and now, as I (the pendulum) swing along, ostensibly through many more arc spans, I am instead pulled down toward the magnetized area and thereby re-anchored into My Center...into stillness...sooner. Although it may take a bit of back and forth and a few beats to get my bearings, I do regain the sense of solid foundation. From here I can recover, renew and mindfully prepare to address my newly illuminated inner obstacles.
Of course, I hope there comes a time when I have cleared all the negative, self-defeating programs hidden away and am no longer discombobulated by the pendulum's swing no matter its height or direction. For now, I can honor that I'm not there yet and be grateful I do have tools. My personal favorite grounding and centering practices include:
- a walking meditation
- listening to music that "moves" me or to sound healing recordings
- journaling into and through my current thoughts and feelings
- a deep cleansing breath (never ever underestimate its shifting power)
What are some of your favorite grounding and centering methods? Can you relate to using them to mitigate the discomfort during your own unsettling pendulum experiences?