Today is demolition day.
It all started back in early March 2020 when my husband ripped out the wall-to-wall carpeting. We left the broken sconces alone, to soon be replaced. We both thought this project was fast approaching.
But we all know what happened in March of that year.
Three contractors later, and after staring at glue-stained floors and broken fixtures for the past 3 years, the day has finally arrived.
Two levels of furniture, closet content, and attic miscellanea have been condensed into one, all in a matter of days.
It’s happening all at once and after a very long wait.
And now I’m feeling a bit uncomfortable. The house is noisy. There’s a crew of new (very nice) people here.
And new living arrangements. There’s the messiness and the inconvenience.
All to be expected. But that doesn’t make me feel any better in my body right now.
I know in the days to come I’ll adjust to my new normal.
I’ve done it before.
For now, I’m facing anxiety.
Facing anxiety takes some practice and it’s always a conscious choice. I’m far from perfect at it, but I keep practicing.
Practicing is the most valuable work to be done, and here’s why: until we train our brain to approach rather than avoid hard emotions, like anxiety, those emotions will grow bigger and scarier and perceived as more dangerous over time.
In short, avoidance creates prolonged suffering. Brains are wired this way.
It’s normal to want to avoid anxiety, guilt, and shame.
It’s normal to want to avoid the ever-so-familiar (and unwanted) sensations that settle in our bodies, like belly aches, migraines, a tight jaw, chest, or throat.
It makes sense to want to make them “go away” as fast as possible.
And yet there’s only one way to a peaceful inner world, which leads to a balanced outer one.
And that’s to be with your emotions. All of them. Even the painful ones.
Emotions are meant to be felt.
They are neither good nor bad; they are simply the messenger.
There’s no need to fix a messenger.
You and the messenger are on the same side.
So the next time you feel uncomfortable guilt or anxiety, instead of trying to fix the emotion, practice changing your relationship to it. See if you can be with the messenger a little longer.
Be curious about the messenger and the message. Then mend the root cause of the system that created the hard emotion in the first place.
For example, don’t try to fix anxiety. Instead, fix your habit of worrying.
Worrying might be triggered by too much busyness, by stressful relationships, or constant work stress…which could stem from a struggle of saying no to people and setting good boundaries.
Anxiety might also stem from unconscious (and outdated) beliefs. Fix the beliefs that tell you that saying no to someone else is selfish. Or that prioritizing your own needs makes you uncaring.
Maybe you believe that the opposite of hard work is laziness. That you have to take a vacation in order to take a break. Or work until you get too sick to.
Exploring the root causes (often these are borrowed belief systems) can reveal a lot about where our emotions come from.
Addressing root causes sets us free from suffering. It’s a focus on the long-game instead of short-term relief.
Today I sit with anxiety.
I’m not arguing with it.
I’m not telling myself that I should feel differently.
I’m in conversation with the messenger and extracting what I need to know.
And just like emotions, I’m approaching this house project with a flexible mind.
I’m in it for the long game and what lies ahead.
P.S. - In 6 months you could be living a different life. In a stronger body and with a radically different approach to self-care. I teach a long-game body-centered, intuitive approach to lasting health and a calm mind. Let's talk about your goals.