The one thing I tell myself whenever I experience difficulties is “It’s OK, I’m here.”
My personal journey has been all about embracing my emotions and learning to be with them – instead of distracting, avoiding or latching out at others; as well as not holding onto them unnecessarily by going into mental spirals or wallowing in the emotions.
Emotions are energy in motion moving through us if we give them space. If we try to suppress them we create extra tension, and if we ignore them they will often come in strong outbursts or be directed outwards onto something that triggers us.
The longer I live in this world, the more I wonder why we as children aren’t taught more about how to understand emotions and how to be with them. It is my hope that this is changing. However, what we didn’t learn earlier we can always start learning now. I firmly believe that the ability to be present with oneself is the foundation for everything.
What happens for many of us is that we develop a pattern of abandoning ourselves when we most need to be there. We simply don’t learn to cultivate presence with ourselves. The easiest way to start being more present is to regularly direct our attention inwards and ask with an open mind “What’s alive in me right now?” The key is to observe what is present and not try to change it immediately.
Our breath is such a brilliant companion to help us stay present. If we make sure to breathe deeply as we’re directing our attention inwards we help create space and openness regarding what else is alive in us. Go ahead; try it now: close your eyes for a moment, breathe and explore what’s alive in you. Tune into your body, your emotions and the state of your mind. Keep breathing as you’re exploring.
When we feel good, content or joyful it’s often easy for us to accept our state as it is. However, if we feel sad, frustrated, down or even just neutral it can be more challenging. One way that helps many relate to themselves with more compassion – especially in challenging times – is by visualizing oneself as a small child – one who needs reassurance and presence. We can then parent ourselves by being present and asking what we need in that moment and do our best to give that to ourselves.
Learning to be there for ourselves has a ripple effect onto all our relationships and to the way we relate to many other things in life: food, our bodies, our health, the way we set boundaries and express our needs, etc.
Most times it’s not a change that happens overnight. It’s something we can actively cultivate, like a muscle that we strengthen by practicing; so that when it really matters we can say “It’s OK, I’m here.”