I have been thinking about the concept of feeling alive…as in, how do we know we are alive?
And for some reason, my brain instantly goes to this scene from “Thelma and Louise”. I think of it often because when I first watched the movie, it gave me chills. For those who don’t know this movie… wait a second! What the….. IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THIS MOVIE then WHAT ARE YOU DOING READING THIS when you should be WATCHING “THELMA AND LOUISE”?!!
Okay, I’m back. That was crazy. Anyway, at the beginning of the movie, we are introduced to Thelma who is a sweet, accommodating, dutiful wife. Until. Well….she changes, I’ll just say that.
I was thinking about this topic because one thing that I have noticed in my own self-journey is that I feel really alive. Really awake. And I didn’t feel that before. Sometimes I felt like I was on auto-pilot. Sometimes I felt numb, just doing what I was supposed to do. Sometimes I felt a deep sadness for… something I couldn’t really name. And sometimes I didn’t even know what I was missing until I felt a pulse of real, emotional, visceral, truthful LIFE and then I couldn’t believe that I was living in this flatline.
For me, feeling alive, feeling awake, means that I feel. Everything. The darkness, the challenge. The lightness, the ecstasy, the thrill. The fear, the resistance, the sick feeling in my stomach, the freak outs, the panics. And the sun on my face and the thrill of being me and the incredible joy of living in my life. And I’ve noticed that the more I allow the hard emotions to just be felt….the bigger and more expansive the joy is. The dark and the light. They fit together. Your can’t have one without the other.
Which brings me to a woman who I adore (I am currently reading her “Rising Strong” book, which I love), Brene Brown. As Brene Brown talks about in her video about vulnerability, you can’t just numb out the feelings you don’t want to experience and experience everything else – all the “good” stuff. If you shut down the hard stuff, you don’t feel the good stuff either. Here’s what Brene Brown says about it.
“The problem is – and I learned this from the research – that you cannot selectively numb emotion. You can’t say, here’s the bad stuff. Here’s vulnerability, here’s grief, here’s shame, here’s fear, here’s disappointment. I don’t want to feel these. I’m going to have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. You can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects, our emotions. You cannot selectively numb. So when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then, we are miserable, and we are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable, so then we have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. And it becomes this dangerous cycle.”
It’s a bad news, good news scenario. The good news is, you CAN feel joy, happiness, bliss, ecstasy, happiness, gratitude…and all the other yummy, delicious life-affirming stuff. The bad (?) news is, you have to feel all of the other stuff as well. You cannot selectively numb emotion.
Honestly. For realsies. It sucks…..but it’s also incredibly awesome.
If you missed it, here’s my number one way to feel it all.
Back to you. Do you feel alive? Awake? Do you shut down some emotions because you don’t want to feel them? Do you think they affect your ability to feel other emotions? Is Brene Brown right?! In the comments below, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
As always, thank you for reading. I remain honoured and grateful…and eternally excited to be doing this work.