Featured Photo by Aaron Thomas
You’ve probably never been told a basic truth about who you are. Which is a shame, because this truth eliminates your anxiety.
When I realized this truth for myself, I experienced more freedom and space for happiness, yet had no space for depression, anxiety, or fear.
Ready to hear it?
I am big enough for all my weird.
Are You Big Enough for All Your Weird?
The answer is a resounding, “YES!”
Let me tell you why with a super cool analogy.
Picture yourself as a reservoir with a river flowing in on one side and a river flowing out on the other.
Life brings weird experiences into your reservoir via the first river. Some of your weird experiences may be unbearably painful, like losing a loved one, while others may just be sorta painful, like that bee-otch Tracy talking behind your back again. Still some of your weird experiences may be quite pleasant, like unexpected compliments and insights you gained from traveling.
Good or bad, it’s all just part of your “weird.”
After hanging out in your reservoir for awhile, parts of your weird experiences exit your reservoir via the river on the other side. This symbolizes you letting go of these experiences (which may happen without your knowing).
To recap: You’re a reservoir with two rivers. Weird stuff comes in, it hangs out in your reservoir for awhile, and then passes through.
So here’s the thing, when you experience anxiety or depression, you believe you are a small reservoir.
Think about it:
- You become anxious when you worry about even more weird experiences entering your already stuffed reservoir.
- You become depressed when you believe too much weird has entered your small reservoir, leaving you permanently flooded.
- You become fearful when you imagine something entering your reservoir that will damage it beyond repair.
What if you believed your reservoir was big enough to hold and fully experience all of your weird experiences?
If your reservoir is massive enough to hold all your weird experiences and all your future weird experiences, what is there to be anxious, depressed, or fearful about?
When I started seeing myself as a massive reservoir that is impossible to fill up, I stopped seeing my problems as bigger than me. Instead, I saw myself as bigger than my problems. This is true for you, too.
My problems are still quite large, mind you, just like your problems are large to you. And painful. So very painful.
But your reservoir is even bigger than the pain your problems cause.
All the weird stuff that has happened to you doesn’t need to shrink down in order for you to “manage” it all. You don’t need to find a solution to your problem before it will fit into your reservoir. You can hold it as it is right now, as messy and unsettling as it is.
Instant peace comes as soon as you awaken to the truth that you are big enough to hold it all and still have plenty of room leftover.
One Massive Trick to Finding Instant Peace
The trick is simple: remind yourself how massive you are.
This brings peace on three fronts:
- Freedom from anxiety about the future
- Freedom to fully receive good experiences
- Freedom to embrace your weird in the present moment
1. Freedom from anxiety about the future
By “future,” I mean anything that isn’t happening right now, this very instant.
The belief that you are a small reservoir is what fuels your anxiety. But when you believe you’re a massive reservoir capable of handling anything life throws at you, anxiety doesn’t even fit into that framework. When you’re a massive reservoir, what’s there to be anxious about? What even is anxiety? It makes so sense.
Just the other day, the song Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum came on the radio while I was folding laundry. My Mom wants this song played at her funeral, so as I listened I imagined what that day might be like.
I suddenly felt unbearable grief and sorrow. A weight in my chest sunk me onto the pile of clothes where I began bawling.
Then, a thought popped into my head that caused me to sob even harder, “Yes, dear, even this you are big enough to fully receive.”
Even though the feelings will likely be more intense during my mother’s actual funeral, I realized that no matter what comes into my reservoir on that day, I am big enough to fully receive it and still be left standing on the other side. But because I am free from my anxiety about what it will be like when she’s no longer here, I can now fully receive all the joy she brings me in the present moment.
Which leads me to the next point…
2. Freedom to fully receive good experiences
Ever heard of foreboding joy?
As Brené Brown explains perfectly in this video, foreboding joy is when you look at your child sleeping and think, “I love you so much, I’ve never loved anyone so deeply. You are so precious.” And then a split second later you imagine something terrible happening to them.
Or when you think, “My job is going great. I’ve got a good thing going with my partner. My family is healthy. This is awesome!” And then immediately think, “Oh, no. Something bad is going to happen, isn’t it?”
It’s like we see the joy flowing into our reservoir and are quick to dam it up with the most unpleasant thoughts we can muster to block all that joy from entering. Because what if something bad happens to take that joy away? Surely our reservoir isn’t big enough to handle that much pain.
But it IS big enough. You are big enough.
When you realize you’re big enough, you see that managing the joy you receive doesn’t make any sense. You are big enough for all the joy flowing in now, and will still be big enough for the pain if it’s taken away later.
So you might as well fully experience the joy in each moment it’s flowing.
3. Freedom to embrace your weird in the present moment
You are big enough to hold all your weird forever if you need to, and you’ll still have space for more.
But what you’ll notice as you examine all the weird stuff floating in your reservoir is that there are two types of weird particles. Some weird particles need to incubate before they are ready to leave and some weird particles are ready to leave as soon as you give them the right attention.
You might even find some of your weird particles are so overdue that they have been rotting and polluting the rest of your weird (even your good weird). In these cases, it is necessary to work with the rotting particles so they can pass through you, leaving you with a cleaner reservoir.
Indeed, life is a forever process of purifying your reservoir.
Note I didn’t say emptying your reservoir. There will always be weird stuff in there. Maybe even painful stuff, like grief. But if it’s still incubating (and isn’t rotting), there is still more to learn from it so don’t try to force it out too soon.
Now THATS a pure reservoir. Photo by Paul Gilmore
How do you know if a weird particle is rotting? For starters, anything that hinders your ability to believe you are an infinitely huge reservoir is probably rotting and needs to go.
If you still don’t know if it’s rotting, take a good, long sniff. That should make it clear.
As we face each rotting particle in our reservoir, it is common to feel a good bit of emotional pain. But never fear, because your reservoir is big enough for you to fully experience this pain. Let the waters of this emotional pain rush in, fully receive them, and then let them take the rotting piece right out with it.
It sometimes takes years to heal what we’ve let rot. But if you trust this process, you’ll look around one day and think, “Huh…it actually smells good in here.”
But I’ve got so many rotting things! Where should I start?
How about with your very first great sadness?
You’ve got to start somewhere, it might as well be at the beginning.
If you would like help identifying and healing your first great sadness, I wrote a free ebook that outlines how to do this very thing. Just fill out the form below and a link to download it will be sent to your email.
Also, I’d love to hear how you specifically are embracing your bigness! Shoot me an email or post in the comments.
How to Identify and Heal Your First Great Sadness
For a free guide on identifying and healing your first great sadness, enter your email and hit send.