In thinking about what I wanted to write this month, it weighed heavily that I needed to share what has been occupying my mind and heart BIG TIME.
I can’t help but believe that if it’s prevalent for me, it might be for you. I don’t necessarily have a “how-to”, an answer or a solution for you, but I’ll give you honesty and what I’ve been walking through. I think sometimes the process, journey, learning and unlearning shape us far more than a “how-to” anyway, so I hope this is thought-provoking!
The thing I’ve been wrestling with in regards to fear are these questions: Is this fear or is this intuition? Do I “trust my gut” or challenge my thinking? Should I say no to things I fear or should I lean into them? As I’ve looked to resources and thought leaders that I trust (podcasts forever and ever, amen. I’ll link below!) I’ve found a few recurring themes that have resonated so deeply and helped me immensely.
Fear is caused by my thoughts.
Fear doesn’t mean stop.
I don’t have to be fearless in order to do something.
Taking action while I feel fear is powerful.
Fear is a feeling; it’s not a true, hard reality (contrary to what we might believe). Our thoughts create our feelings. So, for example, you might feel fear when you hear a loud “pop” noise at an event. The noise didn’t cause your fear, your thought of “I think I just heard a gunshot” did. Now, let’s take this into business and life terms. Think about an opportunity or a situation you’re experiencing that you’re feeling fearful about. Can you see what thought is causing your fear?
Fear doesn’t mean stop. Also, fearlessness is NOT a prerequisite for doing the thing. That leads to number four: to take action while you feel fear is to remember your own power. YOU get to choose to take the action despite how you feel; fear doesn’t rule you. How incredible is that? Okay, let’s rewind a bit. Fear doesn’t mean stop — so why do we stop when we feel it? For me personally, fear is an icky feeling. When I feel it, I make it mean that something went wrong and that I should stop. When in reality, I could be making beautiful change and growing exponentially. But hard, scary things make me feel vulnerable, I get fearful of the unknown and I stop. As human beings, we stop when we feel fear because we are trying to protect ourselves and keep ourselves “safe” but in a LOT of situations, we are limiting the progress and opportunity for growth when we make fear out to mean “stop”.
Is it just me, or do you also place the expectation on yourself that “being ready” to do something includes feeling fearless? Well, that is an unnecessary pressure to place on yourself. And I am so preaching to the choir on that one. You will gain confidence and fearlessness as you do the things. Chances are, you’re probably not going to ditch the fear completely before you do it and that’s okay! The more you get used to “going for it” even when you feel fear, the more evidence you’ll build up that you did it when you felt fearful. But for now, you might be like me, and you might feel like this whole taking action while feeling fear is new. Gosh I am feeeeeling that right now. I have always stopped or quit when I’ve felt fear before. But this time I want something different and I want to let fear exist in my life. It can come along for the ride as I do the things I want to do, it doesn’t have to disappear. But it can’t dictate what I do or don’t do. I get to dictate what I do or don’t do, and I get to learn from it.
Again, I don’t have a proven five-step process for you. And honestly, you don’t need that. If you are looking for a quick and easy 1-2-3 in order to grow in a certain area, I would lovingly challenge you to look inward instead. Evaluate what you most want and need because you already know. Your life and experiences will ebb and flow; the best thing you can learn to do is be willing to be uncomfortable sometimes, be willing to feel the fear and do it anyways, knowing it doesn’t mean something is wrong. You can embrace your fear, you don’t have to run from it.
You’re probably thinking: wait, what!? I just clicked an article that said “How To Be Happier”!
You did. And you’re so in the right place. Because my friend, the key to being happier is not pressuring yourself to be happy constantly. We feel the need to “be happier” when our definition of happiness itself is ease, or consistently feeling good. If you’re anything like me, deep down you want to feel happy most (or all) of the time. To experience minimal discomfort, feel carefree, whole and all the positive emotions you can feel.
What if it’s not supposed to be that way? That it is good to feel negative emotion? Let me tell you something:
You are robbing yourself of happiness and fulfillment by spending your energy resisting emotion that actually has a rightful place in your life.
I have great news for you: life is 50/50. Half the time it’s good, the other half, not-so-good. That is the human experience. Isn’t that freeing? You don’t have to pressure yourself to be happy all the time! This changes everything. In fact, if we are spending 100% of the time trying to control and manipulate things in an attempt to feel great all of the time, there is a good chance we are actually missing the raw, sacred goodness that life offers us. As soon as we start to welcome the truth that life is 50/50, we open ourselves up to true happiness instead of the counterfeit happiness we get when we are holding on to control. Placing an expectation on yourself to be happy all of the time will inevitably lead to disappointment because, well, you are a real person. 🙂
How can we know joy without hardship? Ease without difficulty? Closeness without loneliness? Spoiler alert: WE CAN’T. So, let’s chat about moving towards allowing negative emotion, and in turn, allowing more genuine happiness.
Name 5 negative emotions you WANT to feel. The ones that you want to be present in your life. Reflect on why those are important to you. For example, I want to allow sadness when it comes up for me. Why? Because it is part of being human. It makes me real and it grounds me. Would I want to not feel sad when a loved one passes away? Or when I hear that a friend is going through a hard time? Of course not! I want to allow myself to feel sad. “Negative” emotions are what make humans dynamic beings. This does not mean you strive to feel these negative emotions all the time, but rather that you do not resist them when they show up.
When those emotions do arise, feel empowered! Acknowledge that you see and understand the value these emotions bring to your life. They have a rightful, purposeful place in your life. You have decided you want to feel them. And you know that they can exist with happiness. In fact, they make the happiness so much more genuine and sweet.
I don’t have a ten-step process to make you feel happier. If someone offers that to you, think about it: is there really a linear path to happiness that works for every person? Honestly friend, I don’t think there is, nor do I want there to be. Happiness isn’t a formula. When we try to make it one, it loses its magic.
So, you want to be happier? Don’t resist the organic human emotion that has a meaningful, essential role in your life, in your happiness.Feel it all, lovely one. Freedom exists in that space.
This is not a normal time. At this point, you are well aware! There is a good chance you are feeling some COVID stress right now. Or let’s be honest, you’re really stressed… like, kind of freaking out.
I see you, I completely understand and let me assure you that your stress and anxiety are justified. You do not need to feel bad, in any way, shape or form, for feeling what you do. In fact, feeling bad about the stress is probably fueling the flame even more.
I’d love to offer you this idea:
Managing stress is not about resisting it, trying to be “stronger” or taking action in an attempt of overcoming it. It is about being, welcoming, acknowledging and processing. That can be harder work than “trying harder” and avoiding the tough emotions but the most beautiful and authentic growth happens when we embrace the mess, embrace what is truly going on.
Here are a few suggestions on how to cope with this time, from my heart to yours:
Identify how you really are (and WELCOME it).
The only way out is through. How can we expect growth when we are in resistance to what is going on? How can we heal without acknowledging the hurt? There is a long list of things you are likely feeling. Actually, you’re probably going through a lot of them in just a day! I encourage you to take time to reflect and identify how you really are each day, or whenever you feel like you need a check-in. We know ourselves best and have the privilege of caring for ourselves. Don’t neglect how you are doing. Let it be and let yourself feel it. It has a purpose.
Move your body in a way that feels good to you.
We know that moving our bodies positively affects our brains. During a time of crisis, there is no place for shame regarding HOW you want to do that. If it doesn’t feel like it would fuel you, don’t do it!Please hear me — if you are feeling like you should do a certain type of workout because you are seeing everyone else do it, but it feels like a drudgery, DO NOT DO IT. There are so many options; it doesn’t need to be intense. A great check-in question is: would this make me feel connected to my body right now?
Also, my friend, I am lovingly reminding you that this time is not about your weight. Gaining or losing. Your heart, soul, mind and spirit matter more than the way your body looks. Use this time to reframe what exercise is for you. Rather than it being punishment for eating certain things or trying to prevent looking a certain way, allow it to be a celebration that you are alive, your body is mobile and you are human. What a gift. Move your body out of love and kindness for yourself.
Acknowledge and allow the hardship.
This is more than a global pandemic; it is personally traumatic for many of us. And realistically, it is not going away overnight. There are many voices on social media telling us to use this time wisely, to be more productive, that we have no excuse. Please hear me, you do not need to put that pressure on yourself at all. We expect ourselves to act like we have been given a month of fun snow-days instead of the reality that our world has shut down because of a very real, dire issue. You do not have to start your side hustle, organize your house, crush your to-do list, do ten Zoom calls per day, etc. Dr. Caroline Leaf said it perfectly: “This is a pandemic NOT a productivity contest.” Amen, Dr. Leaf! It is a hard time; let yourself acknowledge that and give yourself grace and the permission to experience this howeveryou can best care for yourself.
We have so much. Even in the midst of difficult times, there is beauty and goodness. You are alive, experiencing, growing, even hurting… All parts of what it means to be human. What are you grateful for? This time allows us so much space for reflection. It’s easy to reflect on the things we wish were different. We think about those all day, every day. But what do you really, deeply love exactly as it is?
If you would like more guidance during this time, I have a free resource called “Start Your Day With Intention” that you can grab for free here: www.meaganvigil.com/startyourday. It is a journaling + reflection guide that walks you through a morning (or anytime!) routine designed to ground, encourage and equip you in this very weird/crazy time.
You are doing a great job, beautiful human. Keep showing up for yourself. One day, this period of time will be a memory, but for now, it is here. Embrace what is.