One of the greatest joys in my life has been delving into self development for going on 2.5 years now. For me this looks like weekly counseling appointments where I explore the depths of myself – who I’ve been, what I’m experienced, and where I want to be.
This is a tearing down only to build back up again kind of process. Much of the self development and growth that has happened in that little four by four room each week has not been visible week-to-week. Two years ago I couldn’t plainly tell you what was changing within me when I was in the thick of “undoing.” But I can tell you now, 2.5 years in, what has happened as a result of showing up to do the work to get to who I want to be.
The other night Ty and I were sitting in the office. He was working on a film edit and I randomly asked him, “Ty, if you were to compare the 2018 version of me and the 2020 version of me, what would you say is different?”
He admitted that he wasn’t sure how to articulate it at first. But after chatting back and forth for awhile, he landed on “how you communicate now vs. then.”
Prior to counseling I had no pulse on my emotions or feelings. They were wild and rampant. They would show up like the unwelcome house guest. I never knew if I was going to cry or laugh sometimes. Or, I would get so pent up that I would just explode in rage over what seemed like the simplest thing. When in reality, it wasn’t all so sudden for me internally. It was a building of one thing after another in my mind and it just took one more tiny thing to set me off. This was bondage to me. I was so trapped and wrapped up in feelings and emotions and I couldn’t just experience life around me. And the worst part was, I didn’t know how to communicate through it. I didn’t have the tools to help me get out of the cycle I was in and into the place I wanted to be.
Can you relate?
I look at these photos side-by-side and truthfully, there’s not much difference. I *look* happy in both of them. But it’s my eyes, and how my smile pulls my cheekbones that reminds me of what Ashley back then felt like. She was there, she was experiencing, and living, but she was not truly present. She was distant and distressed and wrapped up so tightly in her internal world.
Counseling has given me the tools I needed to get to where I wanted to be emotionally. A practice that my counselor has had me work on since the very beginning is naming my feelings. Every week when I show up for my appointment, he asks me, “how are you feeling today?” This gives me the opportunity to clearly name the feeling that I’m experiencing and this very simple task directs our conversation from there.
Now, when my emotions are strong and I feel tears welling up in my eyes, I can clearly say, “I am about to cry right now and this is exactly why” and then proceed to clearly communicate the feeling that is attached to the emotion.
It is SO life giving to me. Before I was drowning in my mind feeling and thinking but never truly knowing how to see what I wanted to say. Now, I have a much clearer picture of what is actually going on for me internally. This simple practice of naming my feelings and doing it over and over and day after day has taken practice to rewire my brain. But it is the one thing that I would say has been the biggest transformation for me from 2018 to 2020. It is the one thing that has helped me communicate more clearly and directly. I can show up authentically, exactly how I want to with a clear mind and experience anything knowing that I can communicate about whatever happens clearly afterwards. It is so freeing!
I went from being bound up in this area of my life to truly free! It is such a gift!
If you’re looking for something like this, I created this simple download with you in mind. The best practice is to print this out, and simply start by looking at this list, settling on a word that describes your currently reality and then writing it all out. And then looking back at the list and finding a word that describes your reality after that work. I hope you find this as helpful as I have!
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