WHO IS THIS PERSON?
You know that feeling where you just. don’t. feel. like. yourself anymore? Like the “you” who’s typically bright, driven, creative and energized all of a sudden feels dimmer, stressed, exhausted and irritable. You’re used to feeling pleased with your sense of humor, emotional intelligence and motivation but now you’re experiencing pretty intense anxiety, maybe a dislike for spending time with others and a super short fuse – so much so that people feel like they have to tiptoe around you. Maybe you’ve even started started asking yourself questions like:
“Why do I feel trapped in myself?”
“Where did *I* go?”
“Is this the “real” me?”
“Will I stay like this forever?”
These questions all make sense when you feel emotionally stuck; when you just aren’t sure how you got here and are clueless as to where to go next. Often, emotional stuckness can come about from ignoring strong initial emotions towards something. Maybe it’s a current relationship , a past experience that impacted you, or the foreign country you’re living in. Whatever the reason, our mind-body is biologically wired to give us signals when it wants us to listen and learn, but sometimes we just don’t pay attention. Emotions build up and become stuck inside us. They begin to manifest as bursts of anger, negativity and anxiety, like a distress call signaling to you that something is off. Eventually, we end up in a place where our original emotion is so deeply buried under lots of other feelings and negative experiences, we have no idea how it even came to be. We feel totally stuck.
I remember when I first started noticing something wasn’t quite “right” with me. I’d feel massively frustrated while biking down one of Tel Aviv’s busy boulevards and people would cut in front of me. Now sure, for many that would probably be mildly annoying, but I realized I was feeling straight up anger and resentment towards these people and the unpleasantness would stay with me for hours! It felt super shitty and I felt totally helpless as to how to change it.
But! The good news is that we DO have the power to change it AND it’s not essential to immediately figure out what has initiated these feelings (for me it turned out to be a job I was really unhappy in). It’s when we start recognizing and stirring up these emotions that we’re able to starting dealing with them. When we find healthy outlets for understanding these emotions that aren’t just *more of the same*, we have ways to start diffusing them. It’s entirely possible to work through emotional stuckness so that you can “get back” to how you want to be – feeling happy, hopeful and balanced.
OH, SO YOU WANT TO RECONNECT?
The key to learning to reconnect with ourselves honestly and fully is to get to a point where we learn to listen to ourselves rather than ignore our mind and body’s signals and calls. When we silence our strong emotions and continuously judge or shame ourselves for feeling how we do, we end up burying our emotions even deeper. And when we do that, it forces our body to send out stronger signal after signal (a.k.a sudden anger, resentment, bitterness, overwhelming anxiety, exhaustion, isolation — should I go on?) until we’re forced to stop and p a y a t t e n t i o n. We learn to be curious, attentive and present with ourselves instead of piling on more and more negative thoughts and feelings. We create a safe space for these feelings to come up and talk to us.
Ultimately, by learning to understand what our mind and body is trying to tell us — something that until now has pushed us further and further away from ourselves — we are able to begin reconnecting to ourselves. We develop compassion and understanding for what we’re going through and start feeling more and more ourselves again – the self that we love, respect and are eager to return to.
4 WAYS TO RECONNECT WITH YOURSELF
Yes, it’s true you may be feeling emotionally, stuck, disconnected and like you’re not *you* right now. You’re feeling angry, sad and generally unhappy — like your brightness has been turned down to a dimmer, unfamiliar setting.
The key to moving through emotional stuckness and awakening a reconnection with yourself is to start listening. It’s to slowly start making a safe space for your emotions to be heard.
Making these changes is not as difficult as you think. You already have all the tools you need to make it happen. You’ve displayed these skills in the past and the fact that you’re still reading this shows that you have the drive to overcome what you’re dealing with now. More so, most of these tools you can use to reconnect are ones you can easily integrate into your busy, day-to-day life.
AZ NU, WHAT ARE THEY??
Take a look below to see what you can do to begin reconnecting to yourself when you’re feeling emotionally stuck.
- FIND WHAT MAKES YOU GRATEFUL
A large part of what disconnects us from ourselves is the literal disconnect between our present moments and…us. When we’re experiencing emotional stuckness, we are often lost in our own thoughts. We’re in non-stop loops of thinkingthinkingthinking. This is likely why we don’t notice our body’s distress calls and why we’re often unaware of the nuances of our days – those important, special moments that remind us why life can be good. Great, even.
The solution: Mini Gratitude Moments
You’ve probably heard about gratitude and you’ve likely rolled your eyes at it. But, you guys, it’s the real deal. Gratitude reminds us that there is joy, happiness and beauty to be found in this world. It takes us outside of our constant stream of thoughts and it lets us be fully present and ~ in it ~ for a bit. Gratitude also literally rewires parts of our brain to block and minimize toxic, negative emotions. See? It’s science.
Together, with my clients, I introduce them to Mini Gratitude Moments. They’re a more subtle way of practicing gratitude, and being mindful, when you’re struggling to connect with what you’re grateful for. By noticing random, almost unnoticeable things that catch your attention and that make you feel good, you’re spending one less moment in your own thought loops and one more experiencing something enjoyable to you. So whatever it may be (here’s some inspiration), let yourself pay attention to these quick, fleeting moments and see if can you let yourself linger on them for a couple extra seconds. Then let it go and wait for the next mini moment to cross your path.
2. LET THOSE CREATIVE JUICES FLOW
One reason emotional stuckness comes to be is due to suppressing and silencing our feelings. For whatever reason, we decide to leave them unacknowledged, so they build and build and build. It makes sense that the idea of sitting down and giving intentional thought to our feelings sounds like a lot (too much, even). Maybe we’re scared of what we’re feeling, confused by it or just genuinely feel like we don’t have the time to give to it right now.
The solution: putting pen / paintbrush / watercolor / markers to paper.
When we make space for creativity to be expressed, things start to happen. Art, writing, or any hands-on activity act as a sort of clarifying, releasing agent. Without intending to, we can start understanding certain emotions and feelings we’re experiencing. Creative pursuits allow us to relax and quiet our mind enough that thoughts and feelings we’ve felt confused about can start to come up in different ways. When I work with women who are feeling emotionally stuck, I often suggest that they journal or craft on a weekly basis — many even end up doing it multiple times a week. You can also do this same approach at home. Set aside 15-30 minutes where you just begin to write, draw or even doodle. There doesn’t need to be a plan, outline, or expected outcome. Simply start and notice what happens.
OPEN UP TO YOUR INNER CIRCLE
You know those people that you’re convinced you’re pushing away? Unintentionally, you may be. But you’ve also been pushing yourself away.
One big reason this separation from ourselves and others is created is because of shame (a.k.a the fear of disconnection). We don’t open up, instead keeping everything bottled up, because we are afraid of rejection or being seen as unworthy of love and connection. But shame is universal, and without it there is also no capacity for empathy and closeness. So it’s actually pretty important to us. Yet, since it feels really painful, our instinct is to keep it deep inside, bury it and try to forget about it. The ironic part, however, is that the more we feel shame, the less we talk about it, and the more we ultimately disconnect. It’s like a twisted self-fulfilling prophecy.
The solution: Practicing vulnerability
Vulnerability is the opposite action (antidote, if you will) to bottling things up. Without vulnerability it’s super hard to form genuine connections with others AND WITH YOURSELF. It’s actually pretty much impossible.
So, try this instead: start slowly opening up to those you trust and feel closest to. Tell them a little bit about what’s going on for you. Share about how you’re struggling, how you just don’t feel like yourself and how overwhelming it all seems. Most likely, they’ll have had no idea this is going on for you and you letting them in on it has the power to relieve a lot of the pain and stress. Therapy can also play an important role in this process. Being heard, seen and accepted is an incredibly powerful catalyst for reconnecting with yourself.
REFAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH YOUR BODY
As you’ve likely noticed, emotional stuckness and the disconnect you’re experiencing isn’t occurring solely in your mind. It’s very much related to your physical body as well. During emotional stuckness we are so busy trying to “figure out” what is going on that we forget about the rest of us. For example, even though we may feel anxiety and stress in our stomach or chest, we use our mind to try and solve it.
The solution: Connect to your body
Feeling like you can’t control your angry outbursts or negative energy is par for the course during emotional stuckness. However, something we do have control over is our body and how we engage with it. More so, we can use our body to reach our mind and ultimately to reconnect with ourselves. When I work with clients, there are 3 main realms we bring attention to: movement, diet and breathing.
Having a say in when and how you move helps you take back some control within your life. Instead of passively going through your day-to-day routine, you are choosing to add something a little different to your schedule. There are many forms of movement that may speak to you (e.g. yoga, dance, swimming, running, etc.) and that you can start integrating into your week. What I recommend to clients is to choose 3 (or more!) days a week where you designate a time to take a walk outside, preferably the same time each day. Find a time that fits best of you, although mornings before work or school can set you up with energy and a serotonin boost. During these walks practice holding in your mind that their intention is just for you to move. Not to get from Point A to Point B. Allow yourself to notice the weather, the outside environment, sounds or smells. But mainly, just let yourself put on foot in front of the other with intention.
When we get busy and disconnected from ourselves, food doesn’t appeal the same way it may have in the past. Often we may even go hours without noticing our hunger or any sensations from our stomach. We may just eat whatever is most convenient. Try taking back some control over what you’re eating. Are you taking in food that makes you feel good? That you prepared yourself? If not, how can you do a little more of that? I often encourage clients to begin incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables into their day. When we stop being passive in these sorts of ways, it can help us rebuild the confidence and drive we’ve been looking for and infuse it into other parts of our lives.
Sort of like gratitude, deep breathing is one of those concepts that is easily brushed over as a small, meaningless tool. But it’s huge. Belly breathing is one the simplest yet most effective ways of calming and connecting the mind and body. It’s a tool that gives us the power to influence both our sympathetic (“fight or flight”) and parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) nervous system. In sessions with clients, I often start and end with deep breathing, but it’s something you can easily practice yourself at home or work. Here’s a short guide to belly breathing:
- Start laying down or sitting upright in a comfortable position, feet firmly planted on the floor.
- Rest one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest.
- Begin to breathe in slowly through your nose, for a count of 4, watching and feeling your stomach rise against your hand.
- Hold your breath for a moment at the top of the inhale.
- Slowly exhale the breath through your nose, for a count of 4, noticing your hand fall back down with your stomach.
- Continue breathing this way for 5-10 rounds. You can increase or decrease the amount of seconds you inhale and exhale depending on what feels best for you.
YOU’VE GOT THIS.
It’s alarming to notice you don’t seem like yourself anymore – to feel disconnected or unnaturally negative when you’re typically a creative, motivated, emotionally intelligent woman. While it takes time to get back to yourself, you can feel more positive, lighter and balanced in life. It. Is. Possible. By incorporating the tools above, and with a little guidance from a therapist, you can get back to where you want to be. To feel reconnected, happy and hopeful while navigating life from a place of stability and self-assuredness.
If you’re a woman who’s experiencing emotional stuckness, disconnect and overall unhappiness and who wants to reconnect with herself, click here to schedule a free phone consultation.
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