February is not a stretchy month. It’s cold all of the time, and we’re indoors alot, and things can start to feel a little cramped.
With all this time to huddle up, it’s a very good month for some intentional emotional work and self-reflection. How about considering how to take a leap and put yourself out there a bit more?
Here are four ways to stretch out and give yourself the space you deserve, emotionally speaking.
Pursue the things you love.
When we’re young, we do all of the classes. We try swimming and soccer and gymnastics and Art Club and Debate Team and Drama. We are not possibly good at all of these things. But that’s okay because we are discovering who we are, what we like, and where our natural skills and talents lie.
When we get older, we seem to get a little more insecure about trying new things. We figure that we won’t meet whatever the minimum requirements are to try this new thing, or that we are too out of shape, or too rusty, etcetera. We let intimidation keep us from possibly discovering new passions. But why shouldn’t we find new passion in every developmental stage of life? Why does that stop at 18 years old?
We should give ourselves license to pursue the things we love, regardless of if it’s cool, or if we are the “right” size or shape or level of skill. Who decided on those rules, anyway? Likely, we won’t regret it if we do it. But we might regret it if we don’t.
Speak up on behalf of your Parts.
Richard Schwartz, the founder of Internal Family Systems Therapy, encourages us to listen to our various Parts (our Anxious Part, our Fearful Part, our Depressed Part, our Angry Part, etc.), and to practice speaking FOR the Parts, rather than FROM the Parts. Basically, we can learn to tune in to our Parts from a place of curiosity and compassion, hear what they need or want from us, and decide from our center (our “Self”) whether or how to act or speak for them. In this way, we can honor the wants and needs of our Parts without acting directly FROM them.
For instance, we might feel our Angry Part wanting to yell at our partner for leaving oil splattered on the oven. For the fortieth time. After we’ve talked about it like sixteen times. This is just a hypotherical, I swear.
Underneath that Anger, there might be a Part of us that feels unheard or unappreciated, that would like us to speak up on it’s behalf. If we can tune in to ourselves with compassion and give our Parts the respect and kindness they deserve, we can intentionally address what we really need in that moment with our partner, from our calm and capable center. This type of work takes practice, but it helps our Parts feel safe and heard and respected.
Take up the space that you deserve.
If you are at a dinner party with five other individuals, you are “entitled” to one-sixth of conversational airtime. If you aren’t a big talker and prefer to listen, that’s entirely valid. But, if you have things you want to say, but fear being perceived as too loud, or too opinionated, or too talk-y, I gently recommend that you give your voice it’s due. You are at the party for a reason, and people want to know you and hear you. Give yourself permission to take up space.
If you have an issue, consider going straight to the source.
Boy do I struggle mightily with this one. I would much rather pontificate about the negative aspects of a situation with a friend that validates all my points, than with the person on the other side of the situation, who disagrees with me and might not like what I have to say. What if there is conflict? What if it creates tension? What if I lose my job or my friend, or just lose the argument? What if?
So uncomfortable. I’m with you.
But, what if indeed? At the risk of being reductive, I might suggest that a place of employment that cannot confront difficult issues thoughtfully and directly is likely to fail, anyway. A relationship in which conflict cannot be discussed and worked through honestly doesn’t have a chance of becoming initmate or authentic. And, losing an argument is really just an opportunity to consider the perspective of another. Be direct.
Let’s make something of this cold and grey month and take time for becoming more of ourselves – our big, bright, emotional selves!