Too Busy to Feel

I come by it honestly. My Dad was a well-intentioned workaholic and my Mom both loses and finds herself in helping others. I’m good at staying busy. It’s brought some amazing adventures, a sense of confidence and independence, and varied nerdy interests and intellectual pursuits.

But what happens when life slows down and gives you more time than you know how to fill? If you’re me, you panic! The panic goes in waves (the waves calm when the smallest bit of distraction helps me avoid the darkness that my fear tells me is looming in the distance, waiting to pounce if I slow down enough for it to catch me). I didn’t think I actively avoided being still, but at the same time I certainly wasn’t comfortable in it and had created patterns and habits that kept me from finding an uncomfortable amount of it. But those patterns of staying busy had been changed and weren’t available and I got scared.

Oh, and to further normalize aversion to stillness, Im a therapist! Im supposed to like this shit! Im into mindfulness and stillness and emotions and all that uncomfy stuff. Wasn’t I supposed to start a prolonged state of levitating bliss when I got my MFT license!?!

So I did what any enlightened person does…I judged myself, I denied my feelings, and I found new ways to get busy again. Until I hit a brick wall and got buried under depression and anxiety. Until I started crying at small, seemingly random things. Until I struggled to get out of bed. Until I was with my favorite people doing my favorite things and still felt numb because disconnecting from painful emotions had disconnected me from the more fun ones as well.

Begrudgingly, I took my own dumb advice and leaned into the stillness. I got really intentional about keeping up my yoga practice, mediating, listening to music, journaling, letting myself lay in bed and cry if I felt like it. I got intentional about being curious about my thoughts and feelings and simply observing and labling what I saw.  At that time, what I found, was lonliness. In hindsight, all my previous busy-ness that had been an effort to avoid feeling lonely had kept me from connecting to others, mostly because I hadn’t been connecting to myself.  Without truly seeing my emotions and lonliness, I had not been effective in helping myself feel better because you cant fix a problem you refuse to identify. Once I got in touch with my lonliness I was able to take action to connect to friends and family, connect more meaningfully to activities, and, most importantly, connect to myself.

This stuff isn’t magic. I still had times (and currently have time…lets be real, this stuff is part of life and still happens) when I missed people or was bored. And those times hurt, but I find myself practicing being more open to acknowledging that hurt rather than running from it. I firmly believe that being separated from others is painful, but being separated from yourself is suffering.

I encourage you to join me in this practice of daily slowing down enough to see yourself. It’s a scary idea and takes a lot of bravery. And its worth it. You’re worth it.

 

If you’re struggling with overwhelming emotions, Im here to help.  Get in touch via email ErikaHolmesMFT@gmail.com, or phone 818.919.2253

 

Dont be a slave to the run

I'm a runner. Sometimes I place in my age group but I'm not setting any records out there. But that doesn't mean I don't have an ego that's competative gets off on praise and validation. And that ego, that competative and reward dependant ego, likes to call the shots and set the pace or milage or duration for my runs.

 

And my egos no dumb-dumb. It studies. It likes to peek at the speeds of fellow runners in my orange theory class. It likes to look at course records and race results for marathons and 10ks. It likes to people watch at the park and analyze what all the speedy kids are doing out there. It likes track my time on a course on strava and delights when I can beat that time. It can get caught up in the latest article or study on "the ten best ways to breathe" or "the new way to tie your shoes that will improve your vo2max" that grace the pages of facebook running blogs and runners magazines. Oh, its no dummy!

 

But it has blinders on. It doesnt see, doesnt listen to, or doesnt rioritize my body. It doesnt like to think about how I may be stressed at work or maybe didnt sleep or I ate too much or too little or I have this little niggle in my ankle. "F*** it!" My ego has a plan to keep, a record to beat, a person to impress. Which is fine. Those arent bad things. They just cant be the only thing. 

 

This may be western thinking and idealistic, but our ego brain and body operate best as a democracy. Each having its own say and right to free speech, but working for the good of the whole. It does not work out well when the ego (one muscle in our body) tries to be a dictating tyrant. The oppressed body always, one way or another, stages a revolt to overthrow the mean over-lord. This often comes in the form of fatigue and/or injury. Or the overlord gets drunk with power and developes a neurotic addiction to exercise, food, calorie counting, isolating, panic disorder, etc. 

 

So what do we do? How do we stay competative and improve and not let the ego (literally) run us into the ground!?! 

 

Answer: Mindfulness. Mindfulness of your body and mindfulness of your values. 

 

Most of us got into running, at least partially, for health, for energy, for the love of moving. But we lose sight of that. Too often, I see friends, clients, and fellow runners ending up sick or injured, too tired to socialize, and dreading the next long run. Its time to come back to values and let your run serve you instead of you being a slave to your run.