Words have power. I write an entire chapter in The Healing Compass about how the power of words can shape our view of our lives and the world around us. They have the power to build… and the power to destroy.
Those two words: “one day…” never sit well with my soul. While they neither build, nor destroy – the effect they have is almost worse. They force you to sit in limbo.
Luckily, my partner-in-crime (a.k.a my husband) has the same outlook. This is why we both walked away from our jobs and took a giant leap of faith in 2010 when we spent 7 months traveling around the world. We spent time debating about when would be the “perfect time”, and then finally realized that would be never, and took the plunge.
It’s also why we dove headfirst into fostering/adopting our oldest daughter at the same time that we were pregnant with our son. We could have easily said, “the timing isn’t right…” and waited for “one day”. Thank god we didn’t.
“One day” is an illusion. It doesn’t exist. There is never perfect. Never.
This is also why I chose to write my book now. Kind of in the middle of a chaotic and already-full season of life. If I had sat down and drew out a “logical plan”, I probably would have noted that when all three kids are in school full-time, my days would have more “free time” and I could write my book then. “One day…”
Except we all know how life works. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow, much less 2 or 3 years from now. So when the “write a book” seed was planted at the same time that we had to say goodbye to my oldest sister, the reminder of tomorrow being taken without notice gave me a strong kick in the pants.
The kind of kick that has kept me going through every cycle of self-doubt, self-cynicism, and self-sabotage.
On October 10, 2017, I almost threw this entire project out the window. Same thing on November 3rd, December 21st, January 17th, February 9th-12th, and especially on March 2nd when my proof came in the mail.
Did you know that my book and I held a stand-off for over 48 hours? After my initial ecstatic excitement of getting a physical copy of the book in the mail, I was paralyzed with fear. I jumped into that familiar cycle of self-doubt and negative self-talk.
- “Who are you to tell people what will make them healthier and happier?”
- “Who’s going to buy this thing? Your mom, that’s who. Because she’d buy your book if it was called ‘The Conspiracy Theory Behind Sea Turtles’… not because it’s any good.”
- “Set your goals low sista… don’t expect much out of this thing…”
I would love to give that side of myself a gigantic kick where the sun don’t shine. I’ve become so much better at tuning her out, but the bigger the hurdle I’m about to jump, the louder her voice gets sometimes.
Wanna know how the stand-off ended?
I turned to page 114 in my own book. The “Bring Out the Backhoe” practice of Letting It Go.
I’m going to share it here because it is so worth everyone implementing in their lives. This helps you take a huge step forward in healing your Emotional Health.
A Letting it Go Practice: One of my therapists gave me this exercise to do, and now I make it a regular part of my routine whenever my emotional health is feeling out of balance.
First, identify the emotion or feeling that’s coming up frequently for you. It could be frustration, sadness, guilt, or overwhelm, to name a few. Now find a good chunk of time – 30 minutes or so where you can write freely, being completely open and vulnerable about everything in your life that’s triggering that feeling or emotion. The first time I did this it was about “guilt” and I thought of three things, then called it good. And then I realized that I was being pathetic and closed minded, and went back and bawled my head off as I wrote another 37 things that I felt guilty about. Some felt lame as I was writing them down (ex: “I feel guilty about feeding my kids too much cereal…”). The truth trumps lameness – remember that. Now that you have your list, it’s time to let it go. You have a few options:
- Roll that piece of paper up, find a body of water and let it set sail. There is something extremely cathartic about the healing powers of water and letting your negative thoughts and emotions be cleansed and erased, giving you a clean slate to start from.
- Find a fireplace or fire pit and set your negative thoughts and emotions on fire. Let them go. Let the flames obliterate and erase every ounce of negativity and give you a clean slate to start from.
- Take your piece of paper and rip it into tiny shreds, once again, destroying the negative energy and giving you a clean slate to start from.
Such a simple exercise. It’s amazing to see the number of feelings and irrational connections we hold on to. Releasing those can help your Heart heal immensely.
In this case, Fear was the emotion that was taking over my life. Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of a bad review, fear of being laughed at, fear of disappointing… the list went on. And on… Since learning this exercise two years ago, I’ve used it at least a dozen times. Each time is unique, and it always shocks me at how many tiny emotions I’m holding on to.
My personal favourite release of the emotions is burning the bad boy in our fire-pit. However, because that fire-pit is buried under two feet of snow and I’m afraid of burning the house down, I decided the paper shredder was the way to go this time. And it was just as satisfying to see those words obliterated. Taking back the control those words had over me was empowering.
With fear gone, I picked up my book and felt a newfound respect for both it and myself. I flipped through the pages, lovingly stopping on every illustration by Amber Solberg who captured my ideas so eloquently. I read and re-read a couple of the chapters that are the nearest and dearest to my heart, and in doing so I re-framed that fear into a positive emotion.
Instead of feeling afraid of rejection or a bad review, I choose to look forward to making a difference in the life of one person. That’s it. At the end of the day, I honestly don’t care about the critiques or one-stars because they are not a reflection of me. I’m proud of the insane amount of effort I have put into both healing myself, and into sharing that story with the world. If those words, and that effort, can help heal one other person as well – then I will be as happy as a clam / tickled pink / over the moon.
So many emotions hold us back from doing the things on our “one day…” lists. We can get control back from those emotions. Try this exercise on for size, and give it an honest go… spend some time digging down into all of the tiny emotions you’re holding on to. The release and peace you will feel after letting them go will be worth the effort.
What’s on your “one day…” list? Comment below or send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org – I would love to hear from you!