I was listening to a podcast the other day of a woman describing how in the last year she'd gone through most of life's major changes. She started listing her events and I sat there nodding like, "Yup, that's me. Yup, that one too." Moving house, international travel, training intensives and changing jobs, getting engaged, I've done it all in just the last 6 months!
I found myself taking a massive sigh of relief as I heard this girl acknowledge that each of these milestones, in their own right, was actually a big deal.
I realised in that moment that I'd been carrying so much tension without knowing it. I'd been holding myself rigidly, unable to relax for fear it would all fall apart. But instead of falling apart, now that I knew why I felt so stressed I suddenly plucked up the strength to go on in a more assured way. I felt like I had just got my own back.
Acknowledgement allows us to clear space and support ourselves so we're able to deal with it better and move on. It's like trying to walk through a child's messy playroom in the dark. You're going to spend a lot of energy tripping over toys. If you flip on the light switch, it's easy to step around the mess and decide whether you want to tidy the room or just get to the door.
My lesson from this experience: taking a moment to acknowledge that there might be a legitimate reason why you feel the way you do could help you to move through it and not feel that way so much, or maybe just feel better about feeling that way. Either way, you're better off than before.
When you acknowledge the fact that you're in a hard or harried place, you send yourself the message that you're understood. You make yourself into your own ally.
You can then turn your attention to the things at hand without having to pretend like things aren't crazy right now. It's a more effective use of energy and it feels more satisfying too.
Next time you notice your chest is heavy and your breath comes short from the weight of emotions or your list of commitments, take a moment to ask yourself whether you're giving the situation the credence and gravitas it deserves.
Or ask a trusted loved one to remind you. I know, they say don't look outside yourself for validation. But when you do it consciously, with intention, it can sometimes be a helpful tool. For me it was really powerful to hear someone else say out loud the fact that I've got a lot on my plate.
Pause, acknowledge, breathe.
Notice the space that opens up in your chest. The sense of relief.
You're working hard, doing hard things. That's ok.
You'll make it through because you've got your own back.