Editor’s note: These posts were written back when my brand name was Remodel Fitness. I’ve decided to include them here without editing them, in the interest of…well… transparency. 😉
I’ve always thought of myself as a person who feels big, powerful emotions.
Maybe I’m just really dramatic, but I used to get so overwhelmed by my own feelings that I felt like I would die.
Fear spiraled into panic attacks, sadness felt like it would swallow me whole. Even positive emotions felt too powerful to bear at times. But the hardest situation to tolerate was when I had many competing emotions swirling around inside me, and my mind couldn’t make sense of them all. I would check in with my body and be like: am I sad? Yes. Scared? Totally? What’s this other thing, joy?? What the hell. WHAT ARE YOU GUYS ALL DOING IN THERE?!
I actually invented a visualization to help me handle those moments of total emotional overwhelm, which I have come to call “renting space from the universe.” I started by picturing all my emotions crammed tightly into my body, bumping into each other, too jam packed to flow freely. Then I would visualize constructing a strong-but-flexible bubble outside my body, just a few inches away from my skin. I would imagine my overcrowded feelings discovering that I had expanded to give them more space, and how they would slowly flow out into the new expansion, enjoying how the space allowed them to stretch out and slow down. I would experience this huge sense of relief as the frantic urgency I’d been feeling dissipated.
I return to this image often lately, since I’ve become obsessed with the concept of being “big enough” to handle our own vast inner experience.
As humans, we have the capacity to be huge and expansive and complex beings, with huge and expansive and complex inner experiences. But we often want to shrink our inner experiences down into manageable bite-size pieces, with clearly defined labels and boxes.
Being “big enough” is about remembering that we can tolerate the infinite complexity and vast enormity of the human experience. And it’s about knowing that to do so means inviting new depths of extraordinarily richness into our lives.
In a recent conversation with a dear friend, we discussed the extraordinary pain and joy and confusion of falling in love, while also wanting to be free. He kept wondering how it could be possible that he could so powerfully desire one person while also wanting to explore all other people with the freedom that being single brings? This inner conflict was sending him into a shame spiral, where he felt guilty and fucked up and broken. My answer was very simple.
Yep. That’s a lot of conflicting stuff. But luckily, you’re big enough to hold all of them inside you until things become more clear.
This is the truth of the matter, whether you believe me or not: You are big enough.
You are big enough to embrace and allow conflicting desires. You are big enough to hold them all with compassion. You are big enough to trust that they are all real, and they are all valid, and they are all YOU. You are big enough to love yourself while you’re feeling them all.
Most important, you are big enough hold them all without squeezing them into tiny boxes, or rushing them into a conclusion, which is what we tend to want to do in order to be more comfortable. And I’ll be honest, being big enough is not usually comfortable. But that’s kind of the point.
You are capable of holding space for great discomfort, because doing so will make your experience as a person richer, and deeper, and more powerful.
Since it’s Transparent Tuesday, let me share a little of why this is on my mind today.
I found someone here in Thailand, with whom I deeply connected. We became very close, despite the fact that we both knew our time together had a clear expiration date. As his final day in Thailand came closer, I noticed that I felt unusually numb. I was surprised that I didn’t feel sad or anything, just this vague sense of numbness and impending doom.
Then it tipped over. The numbness disappeared and was replaced by a massive fucking flood of emotions, good and bad and everything in between. It was extremely painful, but there was nothing to be solved or done, so I simply spent the next few days being big enough to hold all those feelings.
Sometimes I was tempted to “do” something, to pack those giant emotions up into boxes, shrink them down and label them, to make them easier to bear. But no. Instead I just repeated to myself (and reached out to people who would repeat this back to me):
I am big enough to hold it all. I am big enough to hold it all. I am big enough to hold it all.
Because the richness of your inner life responds directly to how much you’re willing to tolerate. And I want a rich fucking life. So while it may not be comfortable, we can tolerate anything, because we are big enough to hold it all.
What are you holding lately?
<3 Jessi Kneeland Get strong. Feel confident. Look amazing.
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