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. 😉
My little brother just came to visit me in Chiang Mai, and it was magical.
We spent two very intense, joyful, and growth-inducing weeks in Chiang Mai. We met lots of people, bathed elephants, danced, tried Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, talked about our futures, had deep existential discussions, and got matching tattoos. It was big.
When he got back home, he sent me a message that reminded me of the energetic cost…the emotional come-down… of big, expansive experiences like that.
All things expand and contract. That’s the natural way of things. But honestly, feeling myself “expand” is probably my all-time favorite way to feel.
I’ve been chasing expansion my whole life. I do this by noticing whatever makes me contract and then turning it around- trying new things, doing shit that scares me, pushing the limits of my comfort zone, and letting go of things, over and over and over. As I get older and bigger, each expansion compounds in new and different ways, and it has a drug-like quality to it’s pleasure.
What does expansion feel like?
To me, it feels like confidence and safety and freedom and connection and love and pride and euphoria and energy and aliveness all rolled into one big fat glorious present moment.
It feels like I’m exactly where I belong, that I’m as cool and sexy as I always hoped to be, that my life is being guided by purpose and pre-destiny, and that everyone likes me.
As you can imagine by that description, expansion gets me pretty high.
Unfortunately, much like an actual drug, there is a built-in physiological come-down to expansion. It’s called contraction.
Maybe you’ve felt this. You have a great experience that makes you feel safe and free and beautiful and strong and alive. You feel like you’re finally becoming the glorious, gorgeous creature you are way deep down, and you think THIS IS HOW LIFE IS SUPPOSED TO FEEL!!
But then… when the vacation is over, or the course ends, or the relationship evolves… something happens. You deflate. You crash. You feel your magic slipping away like sand through a clenched fist, and then suddenly you find that you have become just a regular human again.
And it hurts.
While it’s natural and normal to experience a major contraction after a major expansion, that doesn’t make it any less brutal. Every time you expand, you have a teeny tiny voice in the back of your mind saying maybe this is it… maybe I’ll get to keep this feeling forever!!
But you can’t. None of us can.
The solution however isn’t to stop expanding. (In fact, quite the opposite. I suggest that you seek expansion as often and as deeply as possible, so that you can become adept at recognizing and handling it’s ebbs and flows.)
But more importantly than that, I suggest you learn to love the contraction.
Not because it feels good (it doesn’t) but because it’s a part of you. It’s valuable, and beautiful, and it needs your compassion. Contraction keeps you emotionally safe, and gives you the time and space to process and integrate whatever Really Big Stuff you just went through. Rather than being a sign that you “lost” something, contraction is actually how you make that thing a part of you, so you can have it for keeps.
The expansive part is fun. It feels good. We like it. Expansion feels like magic. But contraction is just magic hiding under the covers and refusing to come out until someone checks her closet for monsters. Honor her.
The next time you experience the euphoria that comes with expansion, remember that it’s not the end of the story, and that the come-down will probably hurt. But it hurts a lot less if you embrace it: go inside, allow yourself to hide for a while in a safe, warm room in your heart.
Allow yourself to hide under the covers and refuse to come out. Allow the contraction to give you time and space to move from the old you, who is now gone forever, to the new you, who you’re not quiiiiite ready to be yet.
Let contraction be the time-out your heart needs while it becomes that new person.
I promise that if you do this, when you’re ready to expand again, you will soar to new and previously untouchable heights.
Sending you all good vibes for wherever you are in this glorious ebb and flow of life,
Jessi Kneeland Get strong. Feel confident. Look amazing.
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