So yesterday my dad and I were talking about how when a person gets sick, they are prescribed medication to help the illness heal. However, if the drug creates some side effects, they are often prescribed a second drug to help ease the symptoms. This often (if not the first round, the second or third round of this) counteracts the healing that the first medication set out to do, or at least dulls and complicates it. This can obviously lead to a whole mess of drugs on top of drugs, mostly just to cover up symptoms of other drugs. It can get difficult to treat the root of the problem with all of that, even if some of the drugs are doing just that.
I got to thinking. How do we do this in life? There’s a point where our symptoms get bad enough, that we feel we need something to ease the pain. In the medical field, that’s more drugs, but in life - it can be almost anything. It could certainly be drugs still (I would say mostly recreational though), or it can be alcohol, or it can be sex, or it can food, or it can be Netflix, or it can busy-ness - anything that we use to make ourselves feel better. Anything that we use to deny our true feelings and just feel good in the moment.
Now of course, just like in medicine, there are certainly times where that is necessary, and totally ok to use as a means to get through something. But at what cost? And when is it time to actually delve into the feelings, emotional or physical, and let them work themselves out? And how do we learn how to bare that?
At some point, we have to stop numbing.
I think this is a tricky line, and there is some balance to be had because removing all coping mechanisms isn’t necessarily the answer, but I also think in general, we can benefit from being a little more aware of when we are crossing that line. It’s easy to get caught in the story, ‘this makes me feel better in the moment, so therefore this is helping me get better overall.’ Whereas actually, that feel good moment is often inhibiting our growth. Being aware of the choice is important, so that we can again step out of it, and not get stuck in false feel-good.
Last week I wrote about how everything is FOR you, as in, for you to learn and to grow. And with that comes the fact that it is also showing up at that particular moment because you are capable of handling it. But if every time it comes up, we run, or hide, or push it away, we never get the benefits of it.
This weekend I had a moment (well, like 2 hours) where I was really frustrated and upset with the fact that various people were not responding to me in a timely fashion. I was taking it personally. I felt like they didn’t want to talk to me, that I was annoying them, that they didn’t care about what we were talking about/doing. Although I knew all of that wasn’t really true - telling myself to not take it personally over and over again only got me so far!
I realized that in my past, when something like that would happen, and I was taking it personally, I would just look for something or someone to make me feel better. I would need someone to apologize, tell me they love me, etc. And although I definitely started to do that this time, I realized through my growth, I now need to not cover up the feeling of taking it personally that they didn’t call me back. I need to not get their approval to make it better. I need to just sit with the fact that I took it personally, and those feelings are not true, and I love them anyway. And by numbing those feelings in the past, or needing them to make me feel better, I have literally kept myself in this loop of taking it personally.
The point is, if everything is FOR you, it’s not only about the learning lesson itself, it’s also about the fact that you are ready to tackle that challenge. That it has arrived in such a fashion because it is time you see it. And perhaps, if we stop covering it up with band aids, more meds, and external validation, it can actually heal. We can stop getting triggered so easily and deeply. We can communicate more honestly, without the subtle guilt trip of needing something from someone else. We can take responsibility for ourselves, without feeling like we need to be responsible for someone else to do what we think they should do. We can love ourselves for our feelings, even if that feels yucky, because we actually get to know them and understand them. Coping mechanisms are important. Medication that helps ease nasty side effects - important. But when you are coping, know that you are coping. Know that there’s something else going on, and that it might cause problems of its own, if not addressed.
Care for yourself by being grateful for your strengths. Choose and show up for the challenges that are given to you. Love and accept what comes along the way. You are exactly where you need to be, right now. Struggles and all. Live in it. Love it. Love yourself.