When something in your life hurts you, when you get your hopes dashed and dreams broken and plans don’t unfold the way you imagined, you don’t start feeling sad. You start feeling nothing.
What happens to you in your life doesn’t hurt you because it makes you feel bad, it hurts you when it shuts you down. It hurts you when you want to escape the pain so badly, you resist loving, you resist being, you start to deny your joy, too.
You cannot just be sensitized to one part of your life. You cannot allow yourself to feel joy and block off all the rest. No, when you are really living, you have to open up to a deeper, fuller range of experience.
If you love something, you’re going to worry about losing it. If something brings you joy, it’s also going to bring you sadness. If something comes easily, fear will, too.
When we get hurt by something in our lives, and we don’t adequately process that, we end up closing ourselves off to everything. We end up avoiding, ignoring and denying all the good just because we had one hiccup of bad. We end up ruining our lives because one thing tried to ruin us. In trying to shut off pain, we shut off all of our ability to feel hope and joy and patience and calm and inspiration.
Beginning to heal is not just trying to find happiness again. It’s learning to feel again, however slowly it happens. It’s crying in your car for no reason. It’s being grateful for something small. It’s allowing the waves of grief to crash over you. It’s clutching your pillow and wishing that life would bring someone back, while accepting that it can’t. It’s feeling the sunlight on your skin and being happy about it. It’s relaxing into the now. It’s taking a break. It’s knowing there’s nothing to worry about.
It’s learning to feel again — everything, all of it, without limits.
And this is going to be the year that you do it. This is going to be the year that you train yourself to open up to life again, bit by bit. This is going to be the year that you awaken dormant dreams, remember why you started, fall in love with the people already in your life, and bloom where you are planted.
This is going to be the year you remember that you picked the city that you live in for a reason. This is going to be the year that you realize the life you have now was merely a pipe dream for your old self. This is going to be the year you realize how extraordinarily far you have come.
This is going to be the year that you stop letting your past rob you of your future.
This is the year that you stop carrying what happened with you, because the only way the past becomes the future is if we bring it there.
This is going to be the year that you let yourself be happy even if every good thing in your life has dissolved eventually, because not letting the coldness of the world take from you incremental joy is the ultimate reclaiming of your power. This is going to be the year that you let yourself enjoy every vacation, every train ride, every day of work doing what you feel competent and capable of. This is going to be the year you relax onto the couch and read, uninterrupted, the year that you do not let fearful thoughts creep into your mind and govern your life.
Learning to feel again is how we start healing, because it means that we are no longer going to avoid experiencing the goodness in our lives.
In the process, we learn something important. We realize that the faster we welcome tears and that uncomfortable tightness in our chests, the more quickly it passes. We realize that, maybe, the problem is that resisting the natural ebb and flow of life doesn’t make it doesn’t disappear, but instead ensures that it stays within us. The more is stays within us, the more it breeds and deepens and grows, the more it controls us, the longer it remains.
Thinking about the past won’t change it. Worrying about the future won’t make it better. Resisting calmness won’t shield us from chaos. Denying happiness won’t help us avoid pain.
You either love this moment, or you lose it. That’s all.
While it’s true that almost all of your fears are unfounded, it’s also true that not every single thing in your life is going to go your way. When those days come, be grateful, because when we face our fears, we are no longer controlled by them. Even the worst things that could happen can ultimately just show you your own strength.
But this will only happen if you refuse to let one wrong turn dictate the rest of your choices in life. The worst of it all can free you, or it can chain you, and the choice is entirely yours.