I Just Can’t Find The Words
One of the hardest things to articulate, can be to express how we feel.
Emotions can be like waves lapping gentle against the shore and they can be like a tsunami crashing and pushing everything else out of the way and then they can be this indescribable sensation that makes us behave that doesn’t make sense of who we are or who we want to be.
Clean Language as a questioning technique gives you access to questions that help you pay attention to those sensations by asking questions like; Where is that feeling? Does that feeling have a shape or size? Is that feeling inside or outside? That feeling is like what?
Over time you can learn to pay more attention to them. You will then be able to locate them; name them and sometimes even draw them.
This can be incredibly useful when you feel out of sorts and you want to understand why.
Sometimes we don’t’ need to know why we feel the way we do; sometimes we just need to feel differently and then we can consciously change our focus and change our emotional state.
But when a certain emotion keeps repeating and reoccurring, I like to understand the trigger by asking questions like what happened just before? or where does that come from?
These questions often give me insights that allow me to make sense of my world and then make better decisions.
As I write this we have been in Kefalonia for 23 days. A couple of days ago, I found myself withdrawing. I withdrew from the sun, from my friends and my hubby Mark.
I sat indoors despite the gorgeous weather outside; with the fan directed on me to keep me cool and I curled up with one purpose and one purpose only; to read or so I thought.
The book of choice was called; “Don’t Lean On Your Excuses by Steve Judge.
I felt low, empty and when I thought about how I felt, I felt nothing but I trusted myself and went with my decision to be on my own and read.
As I read of Steve’s heroic journey; his determination and ability to conquer pain…I was in awe of his achievements and then the tears came flooding out.
Mark asked what I would like to have happen? To which I responded I don’t know; I do know that I don’t want to go the beach; I don’t want to have to apply sun cream and so I conclude that I want to stay in.
He, on the other hand wanted to maximise the sun knowing that the we were going home on Friday. So he settled himself down outside to read and play his game on his phone and I curled up on the sofa inside.
I was a bit agitated and frustrated at this low feeling; it felt familiar and like I was depressed and I didn’t want to be sad; this was my holiday time.
And I don’t like to use that word depressed in front of Mark as he becomes instantly worried. As I write this article for you; I realise now that depressed is the right word; it was literally pressing me down. Depressing me.
As I sat with this feeling I noticed it was heavy; all around me and it felt a bit like one of those really heavy blankets had been placed over me; you the know the kind made of wool. As they land on you it has a weight of its own.
As it rested on my shoulders and over my upper body, it was pushing me down, I decided to sit with that feeling for as long as it needed. (Which turned out to be most of the day) I just sat and read; prepared home cooked food and drank plenty of water. Then as the day came to an end, I felt ready to shrug the blanket off. I cooked a meal and invited our friends over as something had changed.
Today as I write I have been asking where does blanket come from? The answer was my mother.
My mother was a doer; an achiever and not one to sit still. Then I realised, I was feeling a bit of a failure because the book had not emerged as easily as I had hoped; the work tasks I had set myself for our time away had not been possible to implement due to internet connection and sharing work space with Mark.
Things I could not have anticipated before I got here.
Now we were on our holiday week I felt torn between working and resting. I felt like it was not okay for me to take time off as I did not do what I said I was going to do.
Now that Mark was not online and was outside more, the space was more conducive to work but I wanted a proper holiday, some down time too.
And there was something else. The holiday snaps and the daily live videos had made me more aware of my body image. In my head I had felt great about myself before we came away and yet now when I looked at myself; I saw how big I am and how fat I am. The blanket was about covering up and hiding the real me. It was about shame.
I am now sitting with these thoughts. I know my mum worried about us being overweight for fear of how that would impact our health. It was not a vanity thing. I know it also meant that I felt like the only thing she seemed to see was my weight. As I caught that thought I realised that I was being like my mother; I was only seeing the weight, I was not listening to and seeing the whole of me.
Once you become conscious of your thoughts you have a choice. You can decide if that thinking is serving you or not.
I could keep thinking like this or I could change the story, the narrative and change my response.
I decided to sit with the younger version of me that wanted to be seen and heard.
I asked her what she would like to have happen?
The great thing is that I can parent my inner child anytime in just the right way for now. My inner child wanted to hear that she was enough; that that we all come in different shapes and sizes and it is the essence of who we are that matters. My inner child wanted to hear that I mattered and that I had something of value to share with the world. With this new sense of clarity; the blanket was packed away and next time it arrives I will know it is time to curl up and listen. That ‘my depression’ is simply my system telling me that I have been depressing some emotions; ignoring them in the name of ‘getting on’ and that I need to give myself time to listen to and honour how I feel.
This is so much more resourceful than keep on doing to avoid the feeling and usually becoming frustrated with myself and others.
Tuesday, I got up and had a proactive day swimming between two coves and today is a day of guilt free chilling and embracing the whole of me. Noticing all that makes me who I am, above and beyond my weight. And all work is on hold until next week. (Writing this article is not work by the way 🙂 )
During this time of reflection I also recognised that this feeling about the book happened with the first book so there is a good chance this is how I do book writing. I talk a lot about it; dream about it; I write a bit; get and give myself feedback and through this iterative process I find the words I want to say.
That is who I am in person. I am often not the most eloquent person when being asked questions about myself and how I feel. I find it hard to see and hear myself and so I waffle through my world of vocabulary and experiences in search of the right words.
I have come to the conclusion that it is okay to say: “I don’t know how I feel in this moment’
And I need to be okay with not knowing and okay with the response that generates.
Some people think I should know; but honestly sometimes I don’t know.
Sometimes I feel empty and I feel nothing.
What I now know is that this quite likely is happening because I am not wanting to feel something. So not feeling anything is a clue that it is time for me to be alone and sit with and listen to what is happening inside.
I am focusing on eating food that brings a feeling of clarity and confidence inside and out. I am moving and stretching and reading and resting. I am massaging oils into my body and loving it just as it is; safe in the knowledge that when I get back I can and will create a plan that works for me to achieve those work tasks, get the book written and who knows I might even lose another stone in weight.
What are you listening to?
Who are you listening to?
How is that impacting your mood and your decisions?
In the age of information, the amount of information we have access to is going up and up.
We are consuming this data and we are filing it away and it is becoming part of our resources to make informed decisions.
Some are taking on board information and acting on it without conscious awareness.
The more conscious you become about what you are listening to and how you are deciding to file that data for future use the more informed you become about your own decision making process. When you have this level of clarity it is so much easier to communicate your thinking and your decisions.
Founder of Step by Step Listening, Sheryl Andrews has always been keen to create space where other people felt safe to speak their truth no matter what that was. She is well known for her ability to motivate manage and mentor others through change and loves nothing more than turning overwhelm into a clarity and confidence that change can and is happening.
Sheryl and her team now runs retreats, one to one coaching and online group coaching course that provide you with a space and time to gain clarity, focus and direction whilst unraveling what is really holding you back and plan your next best step with confidence. For regular updates and examples of how listening skills can resource you to manage yourself, time and others through change check out Free Success without stress newsletter
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