By Stephanie J. Marshall, Toronto-based Master Alignment Coach
If a specific saying comes to you three times from three different sources in one day that means you should pay attention right? Let me start at the beginning.
So yesterday sucked. I just felt down, disconnected and helpless, and I think it came from a combination of world news, some personal stuff, and maybe throw in hormones (I’m at the age where I don’t know what the fuck is going on in that department).
I’m not really used to that cocktail of feelings and since trying to force my way out of them didn’t work I just kind of emotionally checked out. I made a few lists of things I should be doing but couldn’t quite get there, did some mindless internet surfing, and I kept coming back to trying to intellectualize the stuff going on in Israel.
I wanted it to make sense.
Information as an Escape When Feeling Disconnected
When faced with something that unsettles us we often seek out more information because it feels like we are doing something productive and that with the right information, we will suddenly feel safe and comfortable. This is why sometimes we can’t turn away from the news even when we know we aren’t going to learn anything useful.
But some things don’t make sense.
I wanted everyone to agree on the clear good guys and bad guys and what the good guys should do next.
I wanted everyone to agree that we shouldn’t simplify into good guys vs. bad guys because dehumanizing and othering people doesn’t end well.
I wanted things to be simple, but I also wanted people to stop ignoring the details that make things complicated.
I wanted to feel like this was going to be okay.
I wanted everyone to be okay, but there’s nothing out there that would make any of this okay instead of devastating.
I checked out emotionally because I didn’t want to feel that. But when you’re not allowing yourself to feel, you’re not allowing yourself to be truly alive. When you keep yourself from feeling connected to yourself it keeps you from connecting to others. It doesn’t feel bad, but it doesn’t feel good either, and it doesn’t get you anywhere new, those feelings are still waiting for you on the other side (often accompanied by some anxiety because you have put some things off). I know this pattern well, it’s much less frequent and doesn’t last as long, but it used to be my go-to coping mechanism because I didn’t want anyone to ever know if I wasn’t happy. It was a secret.
The Message That Came Three Times
Now, the saying that came to me three times from three different sources yesterday is this:
“The way you spend your days is the way you spend your life”
- 10am: I read it, and even though it isn’t new, I took a moment to underline it, and set the intention to get past how I was feeling…later.
- 3:01pm: I heard it on a podcast while walking Chloe and I sent note to myself saying “This cannot continue” because I still felt emotionally checked out and this is NOT how I want to live my life.
- 9:27pm: My friend Dave said it on a coaching adjacent Zoom call with five of us discussing our current challenges. That makes it official right?
To give proper credit, I just Googled it and the original quote is by Emma Straub and goes “The way you spend your days is the way you spend your life.”
So here’s what matters: I don’t want to check-out and numb my feelings by surfing the internet or trying to intellectualize atrocities. I don’t want to waste my time trying to avoid grief and sadness. I don’t want to feel disconnected from myself, or disconnected from others.
I’m cringing a little sharing this because it’s embarrassingly earnest, but I want to love as much as I can in the time I’ve got. I want to experience all of the life I can and do all of the things, and if I want to feel the good stuff, I need to be willing to feel the tough stuff too. The vulnerability of allowing myself to experience grief without hiding it is literally what will make me stronger and keep me moving in the right direction and growing… less vulnerable.
And the more I keep moving in this direction, the more vulnerable I’m willing to be, the better I will be at coaching other women through this because I know I’m not the only one who has ever experienced it.
So hey everyone, want to know my big huge secret that in the past I’ve struggled to admit out loud?
I was feeling really sad yesterday. And you know what? That’s okay.
You’ve got this.