The Closest of Strangers
As we speak, at this very moment, there is someone very close to you whom you will never meet. You might feel this nearness at all times. You may catch the essence of this person as a scent in the wind. Perhaps, if you look hard enough, you may catch the glimmer of this person in the corner of your eye. However, you will never meet this person face to face. You two will forever be the closest of strangers. We are speaking of our future selves.
Our future selves are the grand total of everything we are and are doing in the present moment. And because this person is always one step ahead, it can be very difficult to show them the kindness and respect they deserve. Our futures selves are the friendly farmers who reap the harvests for which we – our present selves – are currently planting seeds. (The seeds here are, of course, are present actions and experiences.) We, therefore, have to be very careful about what we’re planting. If we want our future selves to harvest oranges, we can’t be planting apple seeds.
Kindness and Respect…Or a Field of Garbage?
Even worse, we could be planting garbage. Or we could be planting nothing at all. Our future selves set out for their harvest and find nothing but a barren field. On the other hand, it’s full of garbage – poor choices, regrets, and missed opportunities. Instead of reaping a bountiful harvest, our future selves have become garbage collectors. This is certainly not the way to show them kindness and respect.
This week then, we are going to practice just that. We are going to show our future selves the love and respect that they deserve. And how will we be doing that? We start small. We build a daily routine. Maybe we decide to take twenty minutes every morning to sit and meditate. Maybe we decide to take tai chi class seriously instead of screwing around the way we usually do. Or perhaps, we start hitting the gym a few times a week. It’s these small decisions and actions that are what creates momentum. This momentum makes life so much easier for our future selves. In fact, they’re starting to feel better already. They’re looking back at their past selves with pride and contentment.
Some Things to Think About This Week
Let’s start small and not try to do too much at once. But what would you like to have happen for your future self? What would you like them to harvest? And what can you be doing now to start planting the seeds? We mentioned it can be difficult to really face the present moment and shape it in a way that will make our future selves grateful. And it starts with loving yourself enough to do something about it. This week, we will remind ourselves that we and our future selves are worth it. And we will attend to the present in such a way that our future selves will look back on us with gratitude.
When we deny the full expression of our grief, it lays like a weight on our hearts, causing emotional pain and physical ailments – bell hooks
Processing Grief and Loss
No person who comes to Barn Life to heal is a stranger to grief and loss. Whether it be a physical death or loss of relationships or even the feeling of disconnection, we all experience having to endure the process of grief. This very personal journey can be very destabilizing for many of our clients. Many clients, I’ve noticed, have acknowledged that they have experienced the death of a loved one in the past and have never fully processed that loss and held space for grief.
A Confusing and Isolating Time
This past year has been full of loss and many have struggled to allow themselves to sit with grief or even identify feelings oriented around grief due to current circumstances. With the holidays, death and loss can be especially prominent for our clients at Barn Life. Many tend to find themselves reminded of a loved one who they have lost. It can be especially challenging for those who have not been able to fully process their loss. For these folks, it could be a very confusing and isolating time.
Healing in Community
This week, we are looking to allow space to normalize grief. Additionally, it’s important to note that the process is not always linear or clear-cut. Many times the pain of loss can be healed in communion. Think of wakes, funerals, and other memorial rituals and the power that these can wield. We are going to be using some of our process groups to allow our clients to help each other share their grief. This will be a chance to be a part of and heal in community. We could even acknowledge times when loss has helped us to develop and transform.
Some Questions to Think About
The following are some questions to consider this week. How do you perceive grief and/or loss? What has allowed you to process and hold space for your grief? How has loss been transformative or developed your character? What legacies or traditions have you carried out since your loved one’s passing? What barriers disallow you to process grief and loss? How can Barn Life best support your journey with healing from loss? How can you best support your peers and hold space for their process?
The Identified Problem
Fear is part of the human experience and unanimously felt. However, our fears are also deeply personal and rooted in lived experiences. We believe there is a threat to be feared. We believe this whether the threat is physical, such as fear of physical pain or death, or emotional, such as fear of the pain of humiliation or abandonment. No matter how realistic or unrealistic the perceived threat is, the results are typically the same and equally damaging. Second-guessing, self-doubt, and paralyzation.
Perhaps you are frozen and powerless whether you encounter a bear in the wild or a man who resembles your father in your personal space. Whether you’re sweating and your heart is pounding from the real threat of being left alone in a dangerous place, or from the imagined threat of being discovered to be “not good enough” and abandoned by a partner, the threat is real to you and your body.
Second-guessing is constant self-doubt, unsure of our choices and next moves. Unable to commit to the responsibility of our lives. Paralyzation is not only physical stillness, but not moving forward in life or emotionally connecting to it.
The fears that are more suppressed, less apparent, are often the kind that come up in therapy and block change.
Here are some ways to uncover them: envision yourself “giving up” your brokenness, your self-destruction, your self-doubt, your addictions, your feeling of being in control, your current comfort. What do you fear you will experience? For most, it has to do with loss – loss of control, loss of relationship or connection, loss of identity, loss of life itself.
Before you can envision what you will gain by “healing” and “transforming,” you need to first acknowledge and process what you will be losing. You will be uncomfortable and feel vulnerable and out of control. How will you manage that? How will you be supported in that? Can you do it?
The alternative is to stay the same.
Now let that play out. Staying the same. Eventually going back to what you know best.
Solution/Resolution – Our Favorite Part
The antidote to fear is truth. Truth about who am I and what my life is. What is my purpose in this life? What are my values? Am I the person I want to be? What do I bring to relationships? What do I offer this world? Is it my strength? My kindness? My intelligence? Is it my ability to make others feel nurtured? My ability to create something of beauty? We must walk through fear with our strengths. If you are entirely unsure, that is part of your work at Barn Life – discovering and committing to yourself.
This week, contemplate any potential losses or discomfort that you envision occurring due to change.
Here are some questions to think about:
What are your conscious fears (“I’m afraid I’ll never even be able to get better”) and your unconscious fears (“I’m afraid that when people get to know the real me they will leave me”) that you have been numbing?
If you continued to live in fear, what would paralyzation/shrugging into sameness look like to you? What is comfortable about this?
Are there any fears you have settled into and made your “truths” you live by? (E.g., My “truth” is that I am always rejected. No matter what I do or who I pretend to be, so I sabotage relationships and choose people I feel are less than me so I can reject them first).
What will you gain by challenging a specific fear in your life (e.g., fear of rejection, fear of losing control, fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of death)?
How can we at Barn Life help you begin to challenge and take action steps toward facing and challenging these fears?