Friday, December 13, 2013

Thoughts on humanity

My younger brother shared the following Edgar Allen Poe quote with me the other day: "I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity."

It's an interesting quote and probably means different things to different people. But for me, it suggests that people who release their inner insanity are possibly the sanest of us all...

I believe we all have insanity inside of us---darkness, emotional complexity, tangled thoughts and feelings, the desire to lash out like a toddler from hell when we're having a bad day, etc. It's not socially acceptable to have a complete meltdown and let every bit of darkness and pain come out of you when you're an adult. For instance, babies are allowed to cry when they're hungry or unhappy about something, right? They scream and cry until their face is red and their little head looks like it's about to explode. But if a grown-up did that, they'd probably just scare the shit out of their pets or be sent to a psychiatric ward.

As we grow older, we suppress and stuff down the very things that make us human beings---anger, grief, confusion, immaturity, vulnerability. We have all this discomfort swimming around inside of us and then think there is something horribly wrong with us for feeling overwhelmed or dejected by it all. Or for having a blowout over something that's not really a big deal...Like when I swore at a piece of dishware the other day because it had food stuck to it that I couldn't clean off...It wasn't about the dishware. My bottled up emotions needed somewhere to go, so they took the first outlet they could find. That's what happens when we constantly suppress, avoid and deny our emotions. We blow up. We get depressed. We go "insane."

We have to give ourselves permission to be human. We have to give ourselves permission to feel and hurt and get pissed off. We have to find healthy outlets for these emotions and avoid discouraging others from exploring their outlets. (I'd rather be friends with someone who writes poetry about killing people than someone who actually kills people.)

Our dark emotions need love and attention too. They need freedom. They need proper nourishment. If we avoid giving them those things, they turn us into something we're not.

So find a healthy outlet for your emotions. Don't let them control or consume you. And remember that going a little insane doesn't mean you're actually insane. It means you're giving your emotions somewhere to go, so they can be free and stop poisoning you.

How do you feel about the societal normalcy of suppressing our emotions? Do you have a healthy or creative outlet for your darker emotions? Do you often judge yourself for feeling pain and bewilderment?

Leave me a comment or shoot me an email, and let me know your thoughts!

<3 Madison    


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thoughts on self-love

Lori Deschene, founder of Tiny Buddha, recently released her second book titled Tiny Buddha's Guide to Loving Yourself: 40 Ways to Transform Your Inner Critic and Your Life. I haven't really given this book a lot of promotion on my blog, and I figured today's topic would give me a good excuse to. Not only am I featured in this book, but it is like a bowl of warm soup on a cold day if you frequently struggle with self-love like I do. I keep it on my nightstand with Lori's other book, and I refer to it when I'm having "one of those days."

I have "one of those days" at least twice every month, if not more. Sometimes my day just gets off on the wrong foot. Sometimes I get struck with jealousy or the need to compare. Sometimes I get really excited about something only to fail at it miserably. Sometimes I get dejected about everything I lack and forget to notice all the wonderful things I have right under my nose. Sometimes I just feel like a total failure.

Unconditional self-love is by far one of the hardest things I've ever tried to achieve. I am going to have days where I feel like I've finally reached that place, and I am going to have days where I want to punch myself in the face...And I might as well, considering the horribly self-depreciating thoughts that are going through my mind.

Imagine if you had a little man handcuffed to your wrist at all times...You would eventually start to hate him a little, regardless of how cute, funny or nice he was, right? Because he is handcuffed to your wrist at all times, and you have to deal with him every moment of every day. I think that's why self-love is so hard. No matter how great we seem to others, we eventually get sick of ourselves because we know everything about ourselves and have to wake up and face that every morning. It can get messy. (The little man analogy is kind of creepy, but I'm trying to make a point. Just go with it.)

I can literally go from wanting to dive off a cliff to feeling super proud of and okay with myself in a span of 24 hours. I never know what's going to set off a fresh bout of self-hatred or when it's going to end. Self-love is one of the most challenging and puzzling topics of all time. It has the smartest of humans and the most established of self-help professionals scratching their heads. Why is it so hard? Why doesn't it last? Why can't we all just reach that place of unconditional self-love once and for all?

Truth is, I don't think anyone ever really does. And maybe that's okay. All we can do is the best we can at any given moment. Sometimes your best is going to be simply picking yourself up off the floor or giving yourself permission to watch 4 hours of Boy Meets World without judging yourself for it.

And if self-love is something you struggle with a lot, the above mentioned book is a must-read. Keep it by your bedside or in your purse (if you carry one), and flip through it the next time you're having "one of those days." You might just come across something you've been dying to hear.

What has your own self-love journey been like? How do you pick yourself up when you're having an awful, self-hatred filled day or week? What does self-love mean to you? Do you have any additional self-love resources to share?

Leave me a comment or shoot me an email, and let me know your thoughts!

<3 Madison    

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Thoughts on change

One of my new favorite humans is Sheryl Paul, international counselor and founder of Conscious Transitions. I wrote a post one time about how I viewed every change as a loss. I then proceeded to write about how viewing change as a loss was a terrible way to view change. While that may be true to a minor extent, following Sheryl's work has made me realize that it is normal and valid to feel a profound sense of loss while experiencing change and transition---because you are losing something. Whether it's comfort, love, security, identity, or peace of mind, we are losing something and figuring out how to embrace something else.

It is especially common to experience fear of and resistance to change as one year comes to a close and another one quickly approaches. We spend time looking back on the past year and thinking about what is to come in the next one. I always go through a quarterlife crisis this time of year. Every year brings new challenges and new changes to face. And I'm embarrassed to admit that all I want to do in the midst of such times is crawl under a table and rock back and forth until it's over.

Popular culture often pushes the notion that change is a good thing and that we should be happy about it and brave enough to face it. And when we resist, we feel as if something is wrong with us for not pushing through our fear and being more positive and enlightened. We think something is wrong with us for feeling terrified, heartbroken or confused.

Change shoves us out of our comfort zones, and while being out of our comfort zone ultimately leads to growth and healing, it's still a scary and sometimes painful place to be. Reminding myself that it's normal to freak out when things change actually makes change a little easier to deal with.

How do you deal with major transitions in your life? Do you view every change as a mini loss and go through stages of grief? Do you ever feel pressured to stuff down your true feelings about change or tell yourself that you "should" be brave or that you "should" be happy?

Leave me a comment or shoot me an email, and let me know your thoughts!

<3 Madison  


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Thoughts on success

One of my favorite quotes is, "To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded." Another one is, "Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful."

I like to measure my level of success on how happy I am, whether or not I'm helping others, and whether or not I love what I am doing. Measuring success this way helps me feel...Well, successful.

But something I constantly struggle with is feeling profoundly unsuccessful on a mainstream, societal level. My lack of direction, my lack of money, and my lack of "big scale" accomplishments tend to make me lie awake in the middle of the night and feel as if I'm doing nothing with my life. In those moments, I tend to forget about all the people I've helped and inspired and how much I love what I do every day. I am incredibly hard on myself.

It's difficult to stand by my views on success when I'm surrounded by seemingly countless reminders that other people in my age group are succeeding at so much more than I am. I forget to stay focused on my own life and my own goals.

But no matter how many times I remind myself to keep the focus on my own path, I always find myself feeling as if I don't measure up---regardless of how many people I've helped or how much I love what I do.

So what does success really mean? Do you think it means helping people and doing what you love, or do you think it means actually succeeding at an adequate number of endeavors and being able to comfortably stand on your own two feet as a result of them? Can it mean both? Can it simply mean loving and staying true to yourself, regardless of where you are on your journey?

Leave me a comment or shoot me an email, and let me know your thoughts!

<3 Madison


Monday, December 9, 2013

Thoughts on love and friendship

I've been thinking a lot about the fragility of love and friendship and the struggle with avoiding attachment, fear and loneliness.

I frequently fluctuate between getting too close to people and not getting close enough. Either way, I get hurt. When I avoid deep connections, I get really lonely. And when I get attached, I get disappointed when people pull back, whether intentionally or not.

I've been struggling with allowing myself to connect deeply without latching onto people for happiness and fulfillment. And it's very difficult to find that middle ground because the only way to experience the joy and fulfillment you get from relationships and friendships is to get close to people. So it's tough when getting close backfires. I get hurt very easily, so the slightest "pull back" on someone else's end is enough to break me. And then I judge myself for taking it so personally and tell myself that I shouldn't have gotten so attached in the first place.

But how can we not get attached to people? If you have a great connection with someone and they seem to think you're the bee's knees, you're inevitably going to become attached to them, right?

I don't have very many friends in real life. That's a major downside to working from home and doing pretty much everything from home...I've formed several great friendships online, but offline, my choices are severely limited. And I actually get really attached to my online friends too. Some readers contact me and put me on a pedestal and are afraid to email regularly out of fear that they will bother me or that I'm too busy or something. But nothing could be further from the truth. I love hearing from and making friends with my readers. I practically beg them to interact with me. And when one of them stops emailing or doesn't seem too interested in me or my blog anymore, I get incredibly bent out of shape about it...Just like I would if a real life friend stopped contacting me or stopped thinking I was as great as they once thought I was.

I guess I'm just trying to learn how to fearlessly love and connect with others, both online and offline, without clinging too tightly. When I get too close, I inevitably get attached. When I don't get close enough, I inevitably get lonely.

Do you struggle with loneliness, fear and attachment? How do you get close without getting too close? Do you know how to leave the door of your heart open in case someone decides to leave? Would you still be capable of letting someone new take their place?

Leave me a comment or shoot me an email, and let me know your thoughts!

<3 Madison  

Friday, December 6, 2013

New blog series

I've done a couple of different blog series throughout the course of running this blog. There were the Tiny Buddha book discussions in January of 2012, and then I did a "Favorite Quote Friday" series in February of this year.

And I recently came up with a new one. I will publish one post every weekday starting next week, and each day will cover a different universal topic that has been on my mind lately.

I was up at 2:30 AM the other night with what felt like a million things on my mind. But I somehow managed to dwindle those things down to the following:

~ Love and friendship
~ Success
~ Change
~ Self-love
~ Humanity

I was mulling over all of these things and had to refrain from rushing to my computer in the middle of the night to type out a long, rambling chunk of sleep deprived nonsense.

I've just been thinking about the fragility and impermanence of love and friendship, wondering what success really means, feeling afraid of and resistant to change, trying to understand why self-love is such a damn hard thing to achieve, and pondering over vulnerability and humanity in general.

So I want to share my thoughts, feelings and questions with all of you. I hope you will join the discussion, whether you choose to leave comments or shoot me an email. I want this to be an interactive and therapeutic series for all of us.

See you Monday.

<3 Madison