Happiness tools, like affirmations, are all the rage. Suddenly its trendy to have a mantra. It's fashionable to wear jewelry with an ancient Eastern sign. I love the hip yoga trend. I'm happy I can throw on my tight lululemon pants and instantly turn my workout clothes into a socially acceptable outfit.
You’d think that spirituality as a “trend” would be a good thing. After all, when things seem to go to shit, you can throw around some forgiveness and kumbaya your way to happy, right? WRONG. It seems like many of us are missing one simple truth:
OVER is not THROUGH.
So many of my yoga friends love using handy spiritual tools to get OVER things, when what they really need to be doing is getting THROUGH them. What’s the difference? Let’s say I’m dating a guy and he ends things. Maybe I feel super bummed and lonely.
I have a few options, I can:
1. Eat a pint of ice cream.
2. Have a drink.
3. Say a few “I am complete” affirmations and hope it passes.
4. Sit with it and feel sad.
Which of these options sounds like the right choice? Anything to avoid the pain? For most of us, option 4 sounds like the worst, when in fact, it is the best.
Anyone can drink, eat, sex, and affirm their way OVER a problem, but true healing involves feeling the pain in order to process and get THROUGH it.
We all have a fear of going into our dark depths and seeing the icky. It’s not pretty. For those of us who have experienced Depression with a capital “D,” it can be even scarier. We are used to coming from a place of wanting to control things. The truth is that our human selves can't possibly know the outcome or what is best for us.
Many of us live in fear that if we allow ourselves to feel any pain or dwell in a negative emotion we will be stuck there.
Nothing could be further from the truth. That fear of feeling or spiraling down is what’s keeping us in the “I’ll get over it and use my spiritual tools” trap. Spirituality can be abused like anything else.
That's why it's your job to call on your higher self/intuition to guide you. So when you're in that controlling state of trying to push emotions down and glaze over things, you are choosing to continue the struggle rather than surrender to your true self.
So how do you use "mindfulness" mindfully?
1. Be willing to feel like shit.
It sounds harsh, but you’re only delaying your own growth. Over-spiritualizing things with prayer and meditation without actually feeling the pain delays the inevitable. The Universe is self-correcting. You're going to get the lessons you need to grow. So you can choose to deal with it now or later. The speed of your growth is up to you.
2. Out it.
Admitting that I get hurt and expressing it has been a powerful tool in my recovery from Depression. “Outing it” allows us to experience our emotions, process our feelings, and move through them in a healthy way. We've been conditioned to do the exact opposite, so outing emotions in a healthy way can be tricky! Cry, be angry, do whatever you need to let it out. That release allows for surrender. After you feel, you are then able to step out of it and observe your emotions without judgment.
3. State your truth.
Acknowledging our feelings to ourself is a powerful tool. Simply stating “I feel sad,” can be huge! When we communicate these feelings with people we care for, we get a free bonus:
Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable strengthens relationships.
When one person is willing to take the risk to be vulnerable, it allows the other person to show up with empathy and non-judgment. Often, this brings you closer as the other person will reciprocate by sharing his or her truth. Communicating our authentic truth in a healthy way is new for most of us, but what do you have to lose? It sure beats the bottling up and inevitable shit-fits that can ensue!
In that moment of authenticity you experience true growth.
From that clear space, bring the meditation, prayer, and affirmations back into your practice.
You’ll notice even bigger shifts.
The Takeaway: Don’t abuse spiritual tools. The best way to deal is by getting THROUGH not OVER. Do this by authentically stating your true feelings to yourself and to others