“Not This” – Pay Attention to Difficult Emotions
“Not this” is a very important stage.
– Glennon Doyle, “Untamed”
If life is a classroom for personal and spiritual growth…
Then for me, January was some sort of accelerated learning curve in the curriculum of lessons.
And I’m not entirely sure I passed any of the tests ☹
Three separate incidents occurred…but they all come back to the phrase: “Not this.”
If you haven’t read Glennon Doyle’s new book, “Untamed,” I highly recommend it.
“Not this,” writes Doyle, “is a very important stage. But knowing what we do not want is not the same as knowing what we do want. So how can we get from Not this to This instead? How can we move from feeling discontent to creating new lives and new worlds?”
Well, you’ll just have to read the book and find out 😊
In the meantime, this blog is about the “Not this” stage.
Because being able to recognize what is not (or no longer) working for us is an integral step in discovering what will work.
What we are after is clarity.
“Clarity comes from engagement.”
– Marie Forleo, “Everything is Figureoutable”
And sometimes clarity comes from engaging with our own damn selves. But we may have to first learn how to listen to ourselves – our souls – when we hear the words: “Not this.” Problem is, of course, many of us don’t hear those exact words…yet. That would be too easy.
Rather, I think it is through our difficult and uncomfortable emotions that is our soul’s way of communicating to us the “Not this” message.
The more the intense the emotion, the more urgent the message.
When we experience difficult or uncomfortable feelings – such as anger, irritation, or frustration – I don’t think we’re supposed to run from them…or deny them by ignoring them or pretending they don’t exist. Instead, I think we are supposed to feel them…examine them, hold them up to the light to expose their ugliness…then get to the root of what is causing them.
Then we can either accept the situation that is causing them…or we can change it…or we can leave it.
This is not rocket science. So why is it so damn hard to do?
Because we are human. And being human is not easy. Nor is growth.
Never mind the fact that when we do find the courage to hear the “Not this” message (and actually listen to it), that inevitably means more change ahead…for ourselves and those around us (who may have a vested interest in us not changing).
Incident #1 – Anger
In early January, I had a conversation who friend who made a casual but insensitive remark that triggered…no, sparked…no, maybe ignited is a better term…
Okay…fine…her comment blew the f*#@&g lid off whatever semblance of serenity I had left.
I was so angry at what she said to me that I spent most of the next day hurling F-bombs at my living room wall. Not good for the old karma, I know…nor my peace of mind.
Alas, I wish I could say my anger passed after all that ranting and raving, screaming and yelling. But it didn’t. Truth is, I remained livid for the next two weeks.
That is insane! Never mind, extremely unhealthy.
Now the astute reader, such as yourself, might ask: “Gee, Maryanne…if a friend makes you that mad, why are you still friends? I kinda thought you were supposed to feel better after talking with a friend?”
Ummm…yeah. And believe you me, this incident led me to do some serious soul-searching.
And my biggest takeaway? “Not this.”Feeling that intensity of anger is not how I want to spend my precious time on this planet. Click To Tweet
And knowing what I don’t want – expending precious emotional, mental and physical energy being angry at someone who has caused me to feel this same way multiple times before – is going to take me a HUGE step closer to what I do want: a peaceful and happy state of mind.
Incident #2 – Irritation
In mid-January, there was a loud talker in my yoga class who really irritated me. Now, the high-volume chit-chat before class is not a new thing. But for some reason (probably a spillover of my anger from incident #1), I suddenly ran out of patience for noise in what I deemed was supposed to be a quiet zone: a yoga studio.
“Not this,” I said to myself on the drive home from my last yoga class.
To me, a quiet place to practice yoga is non-negotiable. So I am now back to doing all my yoga in the peace, comfort and quiet of my own living room (which, come to think of it, I really should get smudged or something to remove all the toxic anger released during incident #1).
Incident #3 – Frustration
I have been dating an awesome guy for the past few months. We absolutely love spending time together. I adore him. Which is why I really surprised myself when I woke up one morning near the end of January and said to the living room window: “Not this.”
Not this…as in our relationship as it currently stands. It is no longer working for me.
He is a gem. In fact, I’m pretty sure he is the guy for me. But neither of us are quite where we need to be – in our work lives – in order for us to successfully take the relationship to the next level. But I suspect we are both close.
So I suggested we take a break – so that he could fully focus on the next phase of his career, and I could do the same with my company and writing.
He agreed. So that is exactly what we are doing. Time will tell if we are meant to be together.
Interestingly, the anger that surfaced from incident #1 seems to be exactly the fuel I needed to take several of my writing projects – and ME, the writer – to the next level…where I know I need to be, before I can fully commit the necessary time and energy to an intimate relationship.
As for the loud talker in yoga? Well, she did me a tremendous service by sending me back to the quiet serenity of my own home. I am now doing more yoga than I was at the studio. And more yoga means more peace of mind, more releasing of built-up emotions, more insights for my writing and more physical benefits for my body.
In other words, perhaps the three separate incidents were not so separate after all 😊
Your turnIs there anything in your life that is whispering (or saying very loudly): “Not this”? Click To Tweet
If so, what small step (or huge leap) could you take – today – that would get you closer to “Yes this”?
Do No Harm, Take No Shit
In Esther Kane’s most recent blog, she refers to a powerful meditation called, “Do No Harm and Take No Shit,” by Elizabeth Lesser.
Here is the link to listen to it (18 min). It is a potent and practical tool that can help us keep a compassionate heart while maintaining firm boundaries…a challenging lesson indeed.
Related blogs by Maryanne
Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and a Director with the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. To receive her weekly blog, Weekly Words of Wisdom, subscribe here.