:: this feeling is not a failing (+ the healing you didn’t even know you were missing) ::
I was talking with my dear friend M the other day, and she asked me how I was doing. Neither of us had had the best couple of days, and we were both checking in with each other.
I laughed, but not my usual laugh. It sounded a little tinny and felt not-at-all funny, and I realized what I was about to say was bigger than either of us may have been expecting.
I told her that, for the first time I can ever remember, I found myself wondering what it was all for, why we were even here, and wondering why I should even try anymore.
I’m 44 years old. I’ve experienced plenty of pain in my life, and I’ve felt helpless and hopeless and broken before. But I don’t ever recall actually feeling or forming that question of why should I even bother?
And I think it’s important to be honest about the fact that sometimes this life is REALLY, REALLY TOUGH.
Even when you love the stuffing out of it. Even when you spend a large portion of your days laughing and smiling and meaning it, deeply.
Sometimes, it all just feels TOO MUCH. For TOO LONG.
It’s natural and normal to feel that way sometimes.
While it may have become normal, it’s neither healthy nor helpful to blame or shame yourself for feeling that way, or for the space you need to work through it (or perhaps more aptly, to let it work through you.)
It’s also neither healthy nor helpful to judge those who admit to this pain — to pity them or act as if this feeling is a failing (and one that you clearly don’t share.)
All that does is keep people from being honest about how they’re feeling and keep them stuffing it down rather than allowing it to move through and out.
So many people I’ve talked with lately and social posts I’ve been reading reflect an emotional unsettledness and feeling of deep distress right now.
If you’ve been feeling some sorta way too, I want you to know that you’re not alone.
The last several months, we’ve been in some really big times. On top of it all, whether we’ve known it or not, many of us have been deprived of an unconscious healing source, and its absence may be starting to take its toll.
I went to a local ice cream shop the other day. (And no, ice cream is not the healing source I’m talking about rn, though it was definitely delicious.)
You have to walk down a little corridor to get to the order counter, and the family outside was still deciding which flavors everyone wanted, so no one else was in line yet.
The teen behind the counter asked me what I wanted, and I kind of almost froze for a second. I do that sometimes. Especially when I’m feeling kind of off (which I clearly had been.)
I know it seems silly to some, but the weight of making a decision just feels too much sometimes — I’ll get caught up in wanting so much to make the right one, to pick the thing I really want the most. If money is tight or it isn’t a place I’m likely to go back to often, it can start to feel like the most important thing in the world to make the most of the choice before me.
Anyway, I felt that momentary freeze then, but almost instantly identified what was happening and softened. I laughed, got back into my body from out of my head, and said that I didn’t know and would need a minute.
Mind you, it’s July and we’re both wearing face masks, so it’s tough to hear each other and all we’ve got are our eyes to see.
But it was like he saw me soften and be real, and he softened and got real, too.
As real as masked strangers, one of whom is a teenager, the other a mom-aged adult, will get over coconut ice cream with dark chocolate chunks, fudge brownies, and red raspberry swirl anyway lol.
He complimented my flavor choice and told me this was his first job. I told him I’d never been there before and that he was doing great.
There was nothing “big” about the contents of the conversation. I suppose that’s why they call it small talk.
And you know what? That simple exchange was SO HEALING. The having of a random conversation and a simple, no-stakes moment of human connection. Inconsequential though it seemed, it totally transformed my day. And I hadn’t realized how much I’ve been missing moments like these over the past 4 months.
Small talk gets such a bad rap, but what if it’s been quietly healing us all along?
Allowing us to have miniature little interactions with the world around us without the pressure of them meaning anything. Showing and not telling us how wonderful people can be, how wonderful WE can be. Keeping us present to the people we meet and to the people we want to be.
Simple exchanges with the people who cross our paths in a day. Tangentially healing moments to choose to be you and be seen and to connect with those who do, too.
Less rushing through interactions, forsaking connection for the pursuit of the result. Less scrolling social media as a means to avoid engaging with the social landscape around you. More presence, more connection, more humanity.
Sure — we want depth to our close relationships and generally steer clear of a preoccupation with the superficial. But that doesn’t mean we have to cast all things superficial to the curb.
In fact, by honoring the surface-level relationships and interactions in our days for what they are, we open up the opportunity to experience more depth within them and maybe even some healing through them.
Because yes, these small moments of inconsequential connection may just be the healing we didn’t even know we’ve been missing. And although our masks make the talking part a little tougher, they also help us slow down a little bit and can make it feel a little less uncomfortable to make eye contact if you’re not used to it.
Now, to be clear — I’m not saying that every interaction is going to feel like sunshine and glitter. Just because YOU want to chat doesn’t mean everyone you meet will. And that’s fine. You can appreciate them however they show up, not take it personally, and allow yourself to be intentional in how you show up.
Big-hearted small talk. What if we honored it as a presence practice — to get and stay grounded, connected, awed and surrounded by the humanity of the world we inhabit?
What couldn’t we accomplish then?
Let me know how it goes!
NOTE: One of the many gifts of the intuition-driven decision-making practices I’ve learned, developed and share with my clients is that I barely feel burdened by such things any more, and when I do, it’s thankfully brief. Message me if you want to learn how to become a more intuition-driven decision maker.