One of the keys to feeling and being happy is focusing on what lights you up. So what do you do when you’ve been through something that tosses you into the pit, forces you to feel anxiety instead of joy, and ruins any chances of feeling happy? You recharge, reboot and refocus. Every day. Until you feel the spark again.

I’ve been staring at the blank screen on my computer for weeks now, thinking about topics to write about but not being turned on enough by any of them to actually try. That’s not because there’s been a lack of topics, it’s because the emotional rollercoaster I’ve been on has kept me deep in my thoughts and kicked me right out of my body; the only place I can choose something else to focus on.

I’m a gal who practices this shit for a living and found myself lost. How can I teach awareness and healing when I’m so mucked up by the thoughts in my own mind I’ve lost myself and my mojo? Well, I decided I’d actually write about it and see if anything useful came up. We teach what we most need to learn (they say). Plus, the usual article about how to survive the holidays just wasn’t going to happen.

Anxiety, grief, anger, disappointment, sorrow, doubt, fear and loneliness all have a way of sucking you into a black hole of unconsciousness. Why? I think it’s because this is where we’ve been taught to dwell. We’ve been taught life’s hard and it’s normal to feel all this stuff and we should expect it. So…we’ve gotten super great at being sad, angry, depressed, doubtful and fearful.

But what about the joy?

I firmly believe we were meant to feel ALL ends of the spectrum; that life’s a playground for our souls, and we get to experiment with ALL the feels. It’s time to get good at joy. Some days I feel I’ve already spent a lifetime practicing feeling anxious. I look around for joy and I realize there’re a Hell of a lot of people also practicing anxiety (or fear, grief, sadness or whatever). But…JOY, people! You know you want it!

Energy grows where you put your intention. If I let the paralyzing feelings of anxiety, fear, doubt, shame, grief and sorrow take over I’m going to get lost in there. And I have, especially over the last few months. My personal story is one of divorce, and this might be one of my biggest tests of focus, but I still believe this whole deal can be done differently; with more joy. I’m banking on it.

I’m finding the worse the feelings, the closer I get to the truest place in myself. I’m noticing the harder it seems to pull myself out of my mind, the more I search for the one place I know I’ll get the answers; my own soul. How do you search your own soul? You get quiet. You feel. You listen for answers from your intuition. You surrender. You trust what your body’s telling you. And you take action based on those messages. You CHOOSE joy by being aware.

One of the students in my writing class was frustrated the other night. She understood the awareness piece but still struggled with how to get herself out of the pit once at the bottom of it. She could see and feel the feelings, but couldn’t understand how to flip the switch to the joy. “How can I do this?” she asked. “I can’t figure out how.”

Sometimes I think this’s the million dollar question, and wonder when someone else’s going to answer it for me. But then I thought about a repetitive part of all the teachings I’ve read, heard and learned in the last twenty years; you have to look within.

The answer to how is different for everyone. The techniques and tools you use to pull you out of the pit of grief, or fear or whatever other feeling has you stuck, out of your body and ruminating in those torturous thoughts in your mind are slightly different for each of us. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to give you ideas. It means you’ll have to read the ideas, see which ones you want to try, take what works and leave the rest. And don’t give up. Because there’re way more ideas than just the ones I’m going to suggest.

So when life seems hard, the emotions seem unbearable and you’re desperate to find yourself again, the warrior self that feels the intense passion, lightness, gratitude and fearlessness and lives and breathes it for a living – hear this: You can do this. You’re not alone. You need to stay awake. You need to recharge, reboot and refocus. And you need to practice every day until things shift, without an expectation of a timeline. You need to honor your own process of healing and get super unapologetic about doing what it takes to continue that journey.

Here are 10 hows for pulling yourself out of the pit and flipping the switch to the joy:

  1. Realize what’s happening is not as bad as what you think about what’s happening. In other words, it’s in your mind, you’re creating a story around your reality, and much of that story can be ditched. Try it. You’ll be amazed at what extra baggage you’re putting on yourself by putting more meaning into something than is real.

  2. Practice using body awareness. Whenever you’re feeling the certain way you wish you weren’t feeling, first drop all the thoughts in your mind and feel this through your body. Let your body do the walking when it comes to the feeling or emotion. Don’t think so much. Just feel the physical sensations first. Using deep breathing to get you into your body. Try to stay there for several minutes. Do it until there’s a shift in feeling or energy.

  3. Journal the shit out of what you’re feeling. I’m telling you this will create a door to the answers you seek from your soul you don’t realize is unlocked. The key is the writing. Don’t censor yourself. Put all the details down on paper. And…you can always burn this later, so don’t worry about who’s going to read it.

  4. Move your butt. Literally, move your body. Put some music on and dance. Go for a walk. Go take a yoga class. Wiggle and shake. Lie on the floor and roll around and rock back and forth. Ride a bike. Moving yourself will shift the energy. 

  5. Go do the thing you love to do. Maybe you paint, or write, or sing, or dance or do accounting, I don’t know…but what I do know is that when you’re doing the thing that you love, you’re very rarely focused on sorrow, fear, doubt, shame, grief or loneliness. 

  6. Find someone to help. When we give to someone else in need, we move out of the story of our own lives and refocus on gratitude by helping someone else. You can help a friend by calling to check on them, or you can help a stranger by volunteering at a homeless shelter. There’re a lot of ways to help people.

  7. Write a thank you note. Remember something someone did for you and write them a note of appreciation. The energy of gratitude is powerful and can pull you out of your pit.
  8. Don’t believe everything you think. This’s another form of awareness that’s really important and powerful. I gave my voice a name. So when I hear the thoughts in my head and they’re out of control, negative, paralyzing or otherwise crappy, I talk to her, “Hey Martha, thanks for the input, but you’re not being helpful right now. I got this.” Lots of what we think is that inner critic voice. Giving her a name will separate you from the voice and give you a powerful tool.

  9. Call someone you love and ask for help. Please do this. Not only does talking about your pain help you shift it, the person you called will receive the gift of being able to help you. This is a positive double whammy we don’t often realize. Be brave. Reach out. Don’t be afraid of asking for help, even if you’ve asked ten times already – it doesn’t matter. 

  10. And lastly, when nothing seems to help, including the list above and you feel you’ve reached a place of grief, desperation or sorrow you can’t pull out of, it might be time to find a professional (therapist or coach) who can work with you one on one in a powerful, focused manner to create the tools you need to do this. This’s difficult work, this healing stuff – and we all need help once in a while. Looking to others for help isn’t weakness or whimpiness, it’s listening to your intuition about the self care you need. It’s smart as Hell. And things will shift very fast when you find someone to guide you.

I’d love you to join me in the comments with which ideas feel helpful, which you’ve tried, and which ones I missed. Help my readers with some more ideas if you have some you like. We’re all in this together. The more we collaborate, the more we connect and the more we support each other on this journey, the more love and joy we bring in to the world. Let’s aim for some big love and joy. Because we’re meant to feel it all.

Laura Probert, MPT is a holistic physical therapist, published author, inspirational teacher, poet, and black belt in Tae Kwon Do. She’s serious about integrating mind, body and soul as a journey to passion and power and it’s her mission to show you how. You can find her writing featured in places like The Huffington Post, MindBodyGreen, Best Self Magazine, The Wellness Universe, Wild Sister Magazine, PersonalGrowth.com, Tiny Buddha and The Elephant Journal. Find her books and programs at www.BraveHealer.com and www.facebook.com/kickasswarriorgoddess
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