On my personal timeline of things-falling-apart-and-coming-back-together-again one of my first physical symptoms was a really itchy rash on my neck that just wouldn’t shift. Even before my holistic health journey I knew that it wasn’t being caused by lack of steroid cream, so instead of seeing a doctor I went to a friend who was a kinesiologist. I wanted to deal with it at its root cause. Part of me knew that it was being triggered by stress, but the funny part was that my relationship to that stress was me sticking my fingers in my ears and going ‘LAH LAH LAH everything’s FINE I have this under control go away stress LAH LAH’, and stress was there going ‘I have to tell you something, stop and listen. No? Two can play at that game, here’s an unbearable rash KAPOW’. My kinesiologist friend very kindly helped me pull my fingers out of my ears and start to listen to what was going on. This is a very important lesson that I’ve been learning in many ways ever since. Stop running, stop pushing. Listen to your inner wisdom. The only place you can start is where you are.
Easy to say, harder to do.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to do an Active Hope workshop run by the amazing Lisa Siegel from the Centre for Ecological Learning in Bellingen. It’s based on the work by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone, and to quote them:
“Active Hope is about finding, and offering, our best response to the crisis of sustainability unfolding in our world. It offers tools that help us face the mess we’re in, as well as find and play our role in the collective transition, or Great Turning, to a life-sustaining society.”
They have developed a wonderful framework for empowering ourselves to create this world we dream of, and one of the four key steps? Honouring the pain.
You see, whether it is healing ourselves or healing the world, stopping running and taking our fingers out of our ears means that we have to take stock of the things we’re blocking out and running from. It means facing our demons, the source of our pain and fear and stress and all that very uncomfortable stuff. On a conscious or subconscious level we all know this, and because seems like very unpleasant and inconvenient work we neglect to do it. I hang out on Facebook, or eat chocolate – anything to avoid that perceived pain. The trouble is it doesn’t go away and I get more and more stressed. That’s why doing it at a safe space in a workshop with beautiful like minded souls, or with a coach or other trusted person is so great!
Yesterday showed me once again what I have learnt over the five years since I got that rash. Yes stopping and listening might hurt a bit, but not any more than it was hurting while I was busying myself running away from the pain. Then once you honour it by feeling it, listening to it and expressing it, that hurt passes and it is the most beautiful experience. It is how we heal. Yesterday voicing our fear, anger, sadness and despair about the deep issues of the world felt so cleansing, a purge of the yucky stuff and a coming together as community. It allowed us each space to feel hope, and then to come back after lunch and build from that baseline and start to feel empowered.
My rash eventually healed but it took a lot of unpacking to get to the emotional baggage of why I was stressed. My friend had to start from scratch with me, to teach me that it is ok to feel emotions and that it’s ok to not be ok even if from the outside everything looks like life should be perfect. It’s a constant work in progress, which is the nature of personal growth. To get to a destination would be boring! I am better at listening to my body now though, and stress and I have a much healthier relationship. I talk a lot about finding joy and peace, just know that often getting there means also honouring the pain.
If you ever get the chance to go to an Active Hope workshop – do it! If you would like a free discovery session with me, where you can honour your pain more privately if that’s where you’re at, you can book in here.
Sign up below for your free copy of my mini ebook ‘Beginners Guide to Soulstainability’ to get tips on moving through that discomfort!