By Monique Chhabra, MMFT
“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” - Carl Rogers
This past weekend, I found myself overcome with a bout of irritability, sadness and insecurity.
It was a wonderfully sunny and calm weekend in Santa Monica, I was trying to enjoy the weekend with my partner, but something was in my way. As I tried to relax, laugh and just be at ease, it became harder and harder to do so. The energy that I was feeling was getting in the way of my enjoyment.
I felt irritated and angry with myself for not being able to enjoy the beauty that was all around me. And, of course, this only heightened my feelings of not being good enough, oh the insecurity.
I didn’t feel this way for any particular reason, the feelings just arrived, as they do from time to time. And with the feelings came self attacking thoughts.
Why can’t I just enjoy being with my partner right now? Why do I feel so disconnected from him? I don’t want to feel disconnected.
I just wanted to enjoy the weekend, enjoy my partner and feel free. I came to the realization that I felt disconnected from myself. And the more I resisted these feelings of irritation, the more powerful they felt and the more disconnected I became.
It wasn’t until a few days later that I finally realized and acknowledged that my irritation was actually sadness that was being externalized. How did I come to this realization? Well, the irritation dissipated and when it did, I was left just feeling sad. My next approach was to be patient with the feeling and to allow it to pass, as I’ve learned, it always does.
In this state of awareness, I was able to observe how I was feeling in my body, observe the thoughts that were cycling through my mind and see how inter-related they are. This was quite an experience to have, especially as it was happening. It’s possible that my body had built up tension that needed to be released, not accepting these feelings only intensified them in my body. A turning point happened when I rushed to the bathroom for privacy because I could feel the tears building up in my eyes, I began to sob, and looking into the mirror at my tear covered face, I said to myself “I love you Monique”. That probably sounds silly, but expressing love towards myself was much more helpful than criticizing myself for not being able to control my feelings. In accepting my feeling of sadness, I was able to just sit with it in a peaceful state.
I shared my feelings with my partner, and because I had come to a place of acceptance about feeling less happy than normal, I was able to tell my partner that I’m feeling down, and that I’m going to be patient and allow it to pass. Sharing my feelings from a place of acceptance and self-care allowed my partner to be present with my in a non-judgemental way. I think that because I was no longer judging myself, I allowed acceptance to enter my inner and outer space. Because I was able to be with myself while feeling this way, I made it possible for my partner to attune to me in a very comforting way. And even though I still felt under the weather, I felt more connected with myself and with my partner. What an amazing experience this was.
The next day, I did not feel sad anymore. I have noticed that as I began to bring awareness into both my happy moments as well as my sad moments, peace enters my life with more ease.
And so, going back to the quote from Carl Rogers - In accepting what I was experiencing this past weekend, I was able to change my experience from a place of disconnection to a place of connection. Firstly with myself, and then with others around me.