In college I had the fun experience of living for a year with pretty much non-stop panic attacks.
The term "adulting" wasn't a thing yet, but I had a lot to learn about it, nevertheless. Most of my time was spent wishing for a relationship with a guy who wasn't that in to me, hanging out with exciting people I couldn't keep up with, and getting myself to art history class.
Fortunately, at some point during that year I happened upon a book that pretty much saved my life. It was a little Zen book called, simply, The Depression Book.
The premise of the book is that a lot of our suffering is actually the result of a process. De-pressing emotions is a thing we do. And we can choose instead to take time with ourselves to vent our emotions, like letting steam out of a pressure cooker.
I know this sounds pretty basic, but these days it’s almost a revolutionary concept. Take time out of our crazy-busy lives just to feel? Cry a little, comfort ourselves, and heal from all the little wounds we pretend don’t affect us as we power through our days?
Yeah, I don’t know about you, but I need this revolution. I need time to stop and feel like shit for a minute, and then let it go.
My favorite quote from the book is this, “We are sentient beings, trying not to feel. Living beings, tensed up against life.”
I recently decided I would start again to practice the kind of meditation recommended in the book. It helped cure my panic attacks in college, so how could it hurt? So for 1/2 an hour a day, I've been focusing on feeling the sensations in my body, accepting how I feel, journaling about anything going on, and then letting it go.
Almost immediately I felt a difference. Then yesterday I had this little moment of feeling completely carefree.
What?? I don’t know about you, but a spontaneous moment of carefree-ness in my world is EPIC.
If you, too, would like a little more lightness in your life, I recommend this ½ hour a day practice. Climb in bed with your journal, plug 30 minutes into the timer app on your phone, relax, and feel.
It’s amazing how much lighter you can feel when you let yourself be heavy.
P.S. The Depression Book by Cheri Hube is worth its weight in gold, but available on Amazon for only $9.99! Get it here.
A couple years ago I was at a retreat in a small artists’ community. Two of the women in our group were locals, and they started talking about their love lives.
One said she wasn't trying to date, because everyone knew there weren’t any single men in town under 80.
The second woman told us how she'd met her 30-something new boyfriend a couple months ago, at a nearby bar where they danced under the stars.
What?? We were all amazed. How could she have met this great young guy in a town with only octogenarian single men??
Well, of course the lack of single men wasn't the truth. Both women had heard that. One just decided she didn’t have to believe what she’d heard.
There’s a term for letting social myths hold us back, and it’s called “Story Fondling”. How easy is it to get caught up believing in lack? Especially when it masquerades as a commonly held social truth. But the real truth is that we all get love. Your guy is out there, and find-able!
Here’s an example of a story I always loved to fondle, “All the great guys are already taken.”
Of course this isn't true, but believing it made me feel slightly, temporarily better about my single status. It wasn't my fault! So of course I didn't need to put myself out there; I wouldn't find anyone single!
After the initial high of story fondling, though, I always found myself drooping again. After all, fondling a story gives you no power at all to change your situation. It leaves you stuck.
Eventually I changed my story. I started thinking, "Of course there are available single guys out there! And I'll find mine if I just keep an open mind."
OMG, doesn't that feel better??
Would you like to get unstuck right now? Pick your favorite story about why you can’t find love.
Rather than letting this thought bring you to a full stop, try turning it on its head. Talk back to it. There are so many other thoughts that may be more true than the original, and open up your path to love.
No more story fondling! The world is full of opportunities to find your love. You got this!
Jen Mallinger is a trained Martha Beck Life Coach. A former boy chaser, hopeless romantic, survivor of the dating desert, and highly sensitive intimacy avoider, she is now married to the greatest guy ever. She loves sharing insights and action-steps for those looking for love and reciprocity in relationships.