Make a map of it

make a map of it

Maps are helpful. They get us from Point A to Point B. The live, interactive ones even tell us when we need to change our route to get around a traffic delay. Truly remarkable!

Last week we talked about feeling all alone and then realizing that we’re really not. But what to do when you truly FEEL that way? When it feels like you don’t know up from down, left from right, in from out. When all the regular landmarks are missing and you don’t know which way to go.

What do you do then???

Our tendency is to push the feelings away. To pretend they aren’t there. Or to do whatever it takes to get rid of them as soon as possible. We’ll over-fill our schedules, self-medicate, and enlist outside help from friends or counselors* – ANYTHING to get rid of the feelings of disillusionment as quickly as possible, right?

I have a suggestion.

Instead of fighting as hard as you can, try this: make a map of it.

lean into the experienceInstead of running away as fast as possible, what if we sat with the discomfort and took stock of the surroundings? Instead of trying to get rid of the “bad” feelings, what if we leaned into them and explored them? Instead of incessant resistance, what if we met our feelings with a sense of curiosity?

I’ve tried this a few times, and I have to tell you, after getting over the initial discomfort, the experience is AMAZING. When diving into the depth of the feelings and emotions and really leaning into all they are, I begin to realize that most of the time, they aren’t “bad” at all. They’re just intense. Sometimes, REALLY intense, but not necessarily “bad.” Sometimes feelings that I previously avoided turn out to be kind of cool in their own way.

I’ve noticed that anger feels hot and spicy and explosive. The map of my surroundings in anger looks dark, and red, and billowy and desolate. Sadness feels salty, like tears to me. And the landscape is kind of yellow-green until the sadness starts to subside and then everything becomes a soothing shade of soft blue. It’s also a place of alone-ness. I call it alone-ness because it doesn’t really feel lonely, just alone. Which is actually kind of nice sometimes.

So what do you say? Would you be willing to sit with an intense feeling with a sense of curiosity and make a map of what you see?

*please know that I am not a licensed mental health practitioner and am in NO WAY encouraging anyone to stop seeing a counselor. I believe strongly in the work counselors do and am grateful for them. I am also NOT saying anyone should discontinue or refuse a medication they need and are using under the care of their medical or mental health care provider. These decisions are very personal and should not be taken or refused lightly. I am simply sharing from my own experience and observations. Please check with your chosen health care team if you have specific questions regarding your health care needs.