Most of us who try to make a living in this unforgiving society have a shell or mask that we show our “friends” and coworkers. I call this the “OK Shell.” As long as no one sees through it, people will think we’re okay. But inside that shell is a baby bird waiting to grow and spread its plumage. It is instinctively trying to push and scratch and chip its way out of there, but in doing so it breaks the shell and lays itself out for all to see. HELP!
Life After Birth?
One of my venerable teachers tells a story about a pair of unborn twins in the womb, and one asks the other if he believes in life after birth. He responds, “Nope, there’s a tunnel, a bright light and then it’s all over.” Moving from our comfort zone into a new and greater experience is not unlike dying. We leave behind everything that is familiar to be immersed in the unknown. Leaving home to go to college, giving up being single to enter a relationship, becoming a parent, making a big career leap, or any pivotal change in life can bring up these feelings of fear and crisis. For those of us on the soul-healing journey, the crisis often comes first as a catalyst to create the change that we so desperately need but are so afraid to face.
Treat Your Shock
When the crisis comes, in whatever form it takes, the first thing that will happen is a flood of emotions. Fear, anger, grief and any number of other intense feelings will flood into your experience, and there is a good chance that you will go into emotional shock and dissociate from the situation to avoid them. This shock is a perfectly normal survival mechanism because it keeps the feelings from becoming too much for you to handle, but it is no more a long-term treatment than a pressure bandage would be for a laceration.
In order to move through the trauma and get to the healing we need to titrate or temper the feelings so that they aren’t so overwhelming. Using ice or heat packs, listening to music, meditation/prayer, or anything that can temporarily move you out of the overwhelming feelings is a good start. The emphasis here is on “temporarily”. When the feelings have passed, use any resources you have that help you to feel strong and capable and then go back to the crisis. Moving in and out of the crisis feelings will help you to experience them without being so overwhelmed. Seeing a qualified healer can help greatly with this process.
Surrender to the Moment
Once you are able to experience these feelings without disconnecting, allow yourself to sit with them. If you feel fear, let the fear have a voice (write down what it says). If you are filled with anger, express it safely (intense workouts are great for this). If grief comes up, honor that grief (and begin preparing to let go of the thing that you’re grieving over). These feelings are the honest expressions of your soul, and to deny them is to deny the highest part of yourself that is trying to emerge through this experience. When all these feelings have had their say, they will give way to a moment of release–a moment where you realize you have nothing to lose and only one direction to go. Savor this moment, because you’re about to hatch!
A Fresh Start
Just like a baby chick needs a warm, safe place to dry its feathers and get its feet under it, you will need a support structure, too. Depending on your current situation, that might feel difficult or even impossible. The truth is that, now more than ever in our age of social media, any lack of support you might be experiencing is entirely by choice, albeit perhaps an unconscious choice. Now is the time to bring that choice into your conscious awareness. What do you have to gain by staying isolated and unconnected? Maybe you’re afraid of being judged. Maybe, like me, you have a tendency to judge the people who could be supporting you. Whatever those reasons are, they are a part of the shell that is rapidly crumbling around you. It is time to reach out in any way you are able. One easy way to take a small step is to connect with us on Facebook and join our healing community. Once you’re willing to accept support, you will suddenly find it all around you.
Letting Go Of The Shell
With a support structure in place and some tools to help you work through the intense emotions, you are ready to let the pieces of the shell start to fall off. If you’re able, it is often a good idea to take a couple of days off work to allow you to get accustomed to this new way of being. Allow yourself to lean on the support you’ve allowed into your life–trying to do it alone is not only a bad idea, it is an act of self-betrayal. Just as a baby bird can’t hatch and immediately maintain its body heat or feed itself, you can’t let go of your defenses without leaning on the loving support of a healing community. With that support, however, you will be able to let go of the defenses that have kept you closed in so tightly.
What’s So Great About Hatching?
Anyone who has walked the soul-healing path will share a chuckle with you at this question. The process of lowering your defenses and finding real strength in vulnerability can rarely be called “great.” It is difficult, sometimes painful, and almost always causes you to question the choice to continue. You will look back at your life in the shell and sometimes long to go back. You’ll go on retreats, take mental health days and even curl up in a blanket with a book and shut the world out. On other days, though, you will feel the air on your skin, share a vulnerable moment with a friend who is hurting, dance like someone with nothing to lose and immerse yourself in the experience of living. Because like those twins I mentioned, you will have discovered that there IS life after birth!
Is your shell starting to crack? Are you looking for a support structure to help you through this transition? Contact us for a free consultation or to get connected to resources in your area!