Surfing the Highs and Lows


Erin Brown writes about honouring the natural highs and lows in our lives. She says, ‘Highs and lows exist because of one another. Both come with gifts. Whether you are experiencing great joy or incredible struggle, remember that neither is a residence. Everything shifts. Make room to honour it all knowing that the spaces we create in loss allows spaces for new opportunity.’

This speaks to me so much right now. I have written a lot recently about giving myself peace, about the crap-ness that is motivation and the need for self care. And there is a reason for that. I am unpicking a lot of my thoughts and feelings around my highs and lows. Erin sums it up perfectly but it is only recently that I have started to feel the truth in what she is saying. I’m not 100% free of self judgement when it comes to my ‘stories’ around my energy levels and anxieties, but I’m getting there. And I have never really thought about honouring both of them. For me, the highs were the expected, they should be the norm. The lows were to be avoided, they were wrong and should be fixed. I never realised how important both are or should be.

I mean I know you can’t have the light without the dark. I know you can’t have the rainbows without the rain…but I never considered that I couldn’t have the highs without the lows and vice versus. In hindsight, some of my best things have come after periods of darkness. Some of my biggest stresses have come in times of highs (or trying to maintain those highs). I can see how much damage there has been in feeling like I must always feel good and be doing my best. I wouldn’t expect that from anyone else, but I expected it from myself. I would beat myself up for feeling down or shit or heavy or low. Like there was something wrong with me that needed fixing.

Reading the quote above has been like a wee beam of light. Like, ‘Ahhhh….right! I can do that? I can honour my lows?’ I can allow space for them and see that they are part of my life and they are ok and maybe they are trying to tell me something and maybe I need to listen. My body and/or my brain need a break here. There’s something happening that needs my attention. There’s softness and forgiveness and care needed. My body or my brain or my heart are hurting and it’s time to allow for some healing.

The alternative hasn’t ever worked. The push back or the push down of feelings and emotions have only led to more, more, more pouring out later on. Usually in a more dramatic way and possibly directed at my closest allies (sorry Husband). The ignoring or hating usually led to self-loathing and feeling more like there was something wrong with me. Like these times were wrong. Like I should be able to just get on with things. Just get on with it. Just be happy. The bullying and the hatred of myself in those times are distressing to think about. And so pointless.

There is value in feeling everything. There is a need to hold all the emotions we are able to feel. The confidence I feel now when I am able to recognise what’s going on, why I may be feeling less than stellar and the knowledge I am building up strategies for how to allow myself to be in those moments means I can navigate them in a more gentle way.

Thinking of TD and how I want him to handle his emotions is very motivating. If he is seeing his mama fighting down negative feelings and beating herself up for feeling perfectly human feelings, what message does that send him? I want him to be able to identify and acknowledge negative emotions so he can use appropriate strategies too. I want him to feel confident around emotions, his and others’. I want him to know that people feel all kinds of things for all kinds of reasons and that it is his responsibility to deal with his own without dumping all over others. I want him to know that there are no bad emotions but that he can use them to guide how he should treat himself. Does he need space and time to reflect? Does he need a nap and a snack (hello hangry)? Does he need to talk to somebody about something? Does he need rest? Does he need time outside? Does he need to cry or laugh or apologise?

I now ask myself these kinds of things a lot more. I consider what my thoughts are a lot more. I know that my thoughts affect my feelings and even just identifying what I’m thinking at any given time has been a huge eye opener. I also question my thoughts a lot more. I ask ‘Is that true?’ a lot more. I never used to question my thoughts too much. They seemed to know what they were doing…ha ha ha ha ha. Right.

I’ve been listening my way through Brooke Castillo’s Life School Podcast. They are little 30-40 minute gems of insight and reflection. The one I listened to most recently really helped me to acknowledge and accept the more negative thoughts, emotions and energy levels that I can have. I can highly recommend her podcast and the one on negative thoughts.

That’s life right? The ups and the downs. The light and the dark. The rain and sun and rainbows and flowers and bees and all that good stuff. Fighting the bad or negative doesn’t make it go away or stop it from happening. Bad shit is going to go down. It will. We will be dealing with all kinds of situations, people and events in our life. Some glorious, some mundane and some downright horrific but ignoring a whole portion of our emotional skill set, not developing that side to ourselves does not mean we wont experience or feel the yucky stuff. It just amplifies it. With a side of shame to really amp up the self loathing.

So I am honouring all of me. The happy and joyous. The impatient and frazzled. The scared and lonely. The curious and adventurous. The tired and sore. The hormonal and emotional. The positive and the negative. The loving and the warm and the cold ass bitch that just needs a moment (or day) alone. I see and own all of me. I can do the hard work to put the strategies in place so I’m caring and loving on myself more. I can set myself up so that the lowest of the lows don’t completely take over. I no longer allow myself to ignore half of who I am just to ‘be happy’ or to seem happy. As someone recently said to me, ‘Life’s too long to be miserable.’ Brilliant!

So I have a choice. I can ‘suffer’ through the lows only looking towards reaching the ultimate feel-good moments. Or I can embrace them all and find peace and joy in any moment. I can surf those highs and lows with as much grace as I allow.

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