Sunday, June 22, 2014

Cultivating Happiness vs. True Expression

I’ve been learning about how to express myself through a combination of books, blogs, Super Soul Sunday episodes and my own experiences and realizations. As I began my spiritual awakening, I made the realization that we have the power to cultivate our own happiness. That was a new and powerful concept for me, and I began practicing it right away. I read inspirational blogs, thought empowering thoughts and listened to music that cultivated a sense of calm and joy.

As time went on, I found myself purposefully avoiding listening to music that I used to love and connect with. I knew it would not be cultivating the joy and calmness that I desired. It would bring me back to the pain and isolation I used to feel. I figured those were things I should not be cultivating in myself anymore.

Eventually, I started to feel disconnected. I looked around my cubical at all my zen knick knacks, and my iPod full of meditation music, and I started to miss the old me. The old me was in a lot of pain, but the old me felt feelings so incredibly deeply. The old me could express herself and feel connected with the soul within, and honored the emotions she was feeling. I missed that, and I started to see that what I was starting to do was actually just numbing.

In the beginning, cultivating happiness was truly something I needed to do. I needed to build that strength and confidence as a foundation to move forward. I needed to add it to my toolkit. But eventually I needed to bring that tool to the next level with me – stop sharpening the tool, and start actually using it. Sitting there mindlessly sharpening a tool you are never going to use doesn’t make too much sense, does it?

I was nervous about allowing myself to feel the feelings I used to have in my darkest days. I was scared that listening to some of this music would take me back 10 years like a time machine, put me back in the negative mindset, and I’d get lost in all the pain. I’d feel how I used to feel, and it would be extremely difficult or near impossible to find my way back out, or to even want to get back out. I was scared I’d realize that this mindset was the truth, and that I’ve been fooling myself all this time with “cultivating happiness”. That’s just not a risk I wanted to take, because I knew I could not handle feeling that way ever again.

However, that’s not what happened. As I listened to these songs that used to feel like my own soul pouring out of me, I found new connections. I felt the old connections, but I made new ones, too. Suddenly some of the words had different meanings. The experiences I’ve had since my youth gave me more situations, knowledge and wisdom to reference as the song painted a picture in my mind. I remembered how I felt back then, and my soul still oozed out of me in an almost euphoric manner. But back then, I felt complete isolation as an undercurrent of all of this. I felt alone, like I was doomed and flawed, and just this one artist was able to capture how I felt. An artist I’d never know, and other than that, no one cares or understands. But that’s not what I felt this time. This time I acknowledged that I used to feel that way, but this time, I knew it was a human experience. I knew that almost everyone has felt these feelings, and that I am not flawed and worthless – I’m not feeling this way because I am flawed and worthless. I’m feeling this way because I am simply human, and these are thoughts everyone fights with in one way or another.

And at the end of the song, instead of feeling lost in a mindset of despair and pain, I felt relief. I felt like I’d just expressed myself. I felt like I’d just gotten something heavy off my chest. I wasn’t lost at all, if anything, I was found.

You HAVE to be comfortable with your true feelings. Do not be scared of them. Your fear is worse than the reality. Especially if you are feeling disconnected and disengaged, you have to do the things you know will help you feel reconnected, even if you’re worried they will have the opposite effect. Don’t be afraid of yourself. Don’t discredit your spiritual growth, no matter how small. You are a lot stronger than you give yourself credit for, I guarantee it.

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