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7 Things I Wish I Knew as a Sensitive & Emotional Child

Growing up sensitive, I felt emotions powerfully and perceived life from a deeper level than most. I was born with certain values inherent in me, such as justice, love for all life, and freedom, and when anything in the world conflicted with these values, it tore me up inside.

My parents knew that if they killed an insect in front of me, I would immediately burst out in inconsolable tears, so when a spider happened to crawl by while we were in the living room watching TV, my mom or dad would put a piece of paper or paper towel underneath it, wait patiently for it to crawl onto it and then gently carry the spider outside to set it free. 

As I got older, I discovered that once they were outside and out of my sight, they killed it. Their definition of “set it free” was different from mine, so I lingered my gaze on them and every time without fail, once they got outside, they turned back to see if I was still watching so they could determine whose version of “set it free” they should follow. If I was still watching, they nudged the spider off the piece of paper onto a bush so it could go live the rest of its life happily ever after. If I wasn’t watching, they’d crush it.  

I learned early on that there was little justice or freedom for living creatures insofar as we humans had a say. This applied to small critters such as ants and spiders, to large animals such as elephants and tigers, and even to “our own kind”, humans. This realization made me cry.

I cried when my dad disrespected my mom. 

I cried when a kid teased another kid. 

I cried when a teacher belittled a student.

I cried a lot. 

Because my heart broke a lot. 

Because the world didn’t fit into my inherent values and it felt wrong and upside down and I was too young to understand why it hurt so much, let alone what values meant, and I didn’t know how to make the outside world match my inside view so all I could do was cry.

Eventually, I learned not to cry with tears where others can see and get annoyed. I learned to cry inside quietly where no one could see and notice how sad I was. 

I got so good at it, I often fooled myself. 

Since no one else seemed to feel or think like me, I thought I was an alien for most of my childhood years accidentally dropped on this planet (yes, an actual alien from outer space – it was the only explanation my young mind could come up with that made sense). I didn’t belong here, everything seemed upside down, inside out and backwards in this life. But since the world operated in this backwards way and everyone seemed content with it, I started to believe that I was the wrong one and that there was something flawed in me and maybe the world’s not backwards, I was

It wasn’t until I became an adult and discovered the term “highly sensitive person” (which explained me in a scientific way) and then “empath” (which explained me in a spiritual way) that I realized I’m not alone and that I could learn to trust my intuition and my deep thoughts and feelings.

If I could go back in time and meet that younger Tree, the sensitive little girl who cried a lot, I’d sit on the floor, wrap her in my arms and let her cry. And after she had a good cry, I’d tell her what I’ve learned.

 

This is what I’d say:

 

1. Your emotions are valid.

No matter what others tell you you should or should not feel, the only feelings you truly should be feeling are the ones you’re feeling. Period.

2. You’ll have good-feeling emotions and bad-feeling emotions.

Neither are better than the other. Treat them both with respect and welcome them equally.

3. You are going to feel other people’s emotions.

Treat those with respect too and welcome them as your own, because once you feel it, it’s yours to deal with.

4. Emotions are nothing more than energy in emotion.

Don’t make anything more of them than that. Don’t judge, resist or create drama around them. And most of all, don’t criticize them, yourself or others for feeling them.

5. Your mind will make up stories about you and your emotions.

These will lead to more emotions which lead to more stories. The stories will usually not support you. Whatever stories your mind makes up, don’t believe any of them. They’re just made-up stories. Refer back to #4.

6. Other people’s minds will make up stories about you and your emotions.

Those stories are none of your business. Don’t believe them either. They’re just made-up stories in someone else’s mind.

7. Emotions, when allowed to flow freely, come and go within seconds.

Yes, SECONDS. Not minutes, not hours, not days, and definitely not years. The only thing that makes them last longer than seconds is the resistance you put up about them (see #1, #2, #3 and #4), which all stem from the stories you believe about them (see #5 and #6).

There’s so much more I’d tell her but I think if she had learned these basics from the get-go, she would’ve had an easier, happier childhood and maybe she wouldn’t have beat herself up so much. 

What do you wish you had known as a sensitive child?

Mental Toughness vs Emotional Toughness

Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen

 

What if happiness isn’t about toughening up emotionally but rather about toughening up mentally?

When I was younger, I used to get cold sores on my lips 2-3 times a year. For a kid, it was social suicide and I dreaded that initial tingly feeling signifying that a cold sore was coming. That tingly feeling meant that for the next 2 weeks, nothing else in my life mattered except doing everything I could to hide the ugly crusty sores and praying no one could see them, yet knowing everyone could. 

I did everything from wrapping a scarf around the lower third of my face telling everyone I was cold (even in the blazing heat of summer), keeping a pen in my mouth dangling at just the right angle to block the blister from sight (so I thought), and putting makeup on it to “blend in” to the color of my lip (which often made it stand out more). We all know how subtle little girls are when it comes to wearing mom’s makeup!

Photo by Christina Ramey

My mom had cold sores growing up too and she understood why these agonizing times meant the end of the world to me and how hurtful it was to be teased and taunted by other kids. She’s also an empath and highly sensitive, so undoubtedly she absorbed my pain and tried to do everything she could to alleviate it, for my sake and hers. This included letting me stay home from school until any evidence of it had disappeared (usually 14.75 days, yes I counted). 

The problem was my dad did not empathize. He refused to let me hide. 

So in the mornings, while he got ready for work, I got ready for school. Then when he left for work, I put my pajamas back on and stayed home with mom, who spent most of the day consoling me by overcompensating for my feelings of ugliness and telling me how beautiful I was every 5 seconds and that she couldn’t see the sores over my beauty. 

When dad came home from work, I hid in the basement for an hour until it was the usual time that the school bus dropped me off every day, and I would sneak out through the basement door in the back of the house, tiptoe around to the front, ducking under the windows, and come in the front door nonchalantly with my backpack and lunchbox, as if I’d been in school all day. 

He never caught on. 

I remember the fights my dad and I had. “It’s not faaaiiir,” I would yell at him, “why do I have to get these stupid ugly things? Why does everything happen to me??? You don’t understaaaand!” 

He always replied with the same stock answer to just about all of my childhood and teenage woes: “Life’s not fair,” followed by, “the sooner you accept that, the better you’ll feel.” 

Unlike my mom, my dad never coddled to my emotions. If I was scared or didn’t feel like doing something, he made me do it anyway. 

He made me face life, despite how I felt about it. It was as if my feelings didn’t matter. If the thing needed to be done, it needed to be done, end of story. Feelings schmeelings. 

I hated him for it. 

But as an adult, I look back with gratitude and understand what he was trying to teach me. 

He was trying to teach me mental toughness. 

He was trying to teach me that it doesn’t matter how unfair life is or how I feel about it, I can’t hide at home all day and cry about it, I need to go out and face it, ugly cold sores and all. 

 

MENTAL STORIES CREATE EMOTIONAL DISTRESS

 

As a teacher of Emotional Resilience and a sensitive, spiritual coach for all things emotion-and-energy related, you’d think I’d tell you that emotional resilience is more important than mental resilience.

But it’s not.

My dad had a point. He was right not to let me give in to my feelings of fear, embarrassment and shame. 

I had defined myself based on the cold sores. My worth and identity were wound tightly around them like a Victorian corset, suffocating me. 

On a physical level, I simply had a viral infection, nothing more, nothing less. Had I stopped there, there would be no story to tell today. This blog post wouldn’t exist, nor would decades of unnecessary torment, shame and pain. 

On a mental and emotional level, the stories I created around my cold sores wrecked me deeply. Stories such as “why does everything happen to me?” and “it’s not fair,” and “why is God punishing me?” and “what did I do to deserve this?” and “I’m so ugly, they’re all laughing at me.”

I lived in deep shame, disgust and anger toward my parents for giving it to me, God for allowing it to happen, and myself for being so wretched to have it. (I was a bit dramatic back then!)   

As I got older and learned more about spirituality, law of attraction and how we create everything in our lives, my stories shifted to a more spiritual form of self-annihilation. I hated myself for being so weak and unevolved that I couldn’t visualize them away and every time they surfaced, I tortured myself with incessant questions of how I manifested them again and how I was subconsciously self-sabotaging and what was my bigger lesson in all this, what did I need to learn and what was I still holding onto energetically that I couldn’t let go of. 

The root of all my stories around cold sores and any other problems that sprung up in my life came down to a sense of self-worth and deserving. 

My mental stories created my emotional distress and my spiritual crises.  

 

HOW TO OVERRIDE YOUR MENTAL STORIES

 

To me, as a kid, cold sores were a mark of shame declaring to the world my unworthiness and wretchedness.  

To my dad, they were just a common viral infection, an impersonal act of science that could happen to anyone. 

Instead of explaining the concept of mental stories to me, like I’m doing now in this post, my dad didn’t know how to talk about that, so instead, he said things like, “toughen up,” and “life’s not fair, deal with it,” and “suck it up,” and “don’t take it so personally.” 

All of which made me feel worse because I didn’t know how to “suck it up.” So I beat myself up for not being strong enough to “deal with it”, and I took it even more personally, creating more drama and more stories.  

What mental stories is your mind creating about circumstances in your life? 

What problems, experiences or challenges are you using to identify with and define yourself? 

If your body is weak or ill in some way, are you transferring that weakness to your identity somehow? Do you think you “should know better” by now how to heal it with your vibration, energy and spiritual wisdom, but it’s not working? Are you spending an inordinate amount of time and energy trying to figure out why this is happening to you, what the Universe might be trying to teach you and how you can unblock whatever’s stuck or release any unconscious limiting beliefs you have? 

If your finances are lacking, are you transferring that lack to your identity somehow? Are you tying the value of your bank account to the value of who you are, to your worth? Do you feel less-than, not-enough and limited? Do you feel singled out because your friends have more than you or people you know manifest easier and faster than you?

I’m going to talk more about mental toughness in the coming weeks. For now, start by paying attention to the thoughts and stories that swirl around any particular challenges you’re facing, and especially bring awareness to how these stories make you feel. 

Once you become aware of the stories, take the next step to recognize that they’re just that: STORIES. Not fact. Not truth. Not you.

When you recognize that they’re simply stories, you can step outside of them and observe them without being lost in them. You realize that practically everything you feel is a result of the stories you’re telling yourself and your level of belief in those stories.

Then ultimately you can make a conscious choice… wallow in your story and let it define you, or do the hard thing and live, refusing to be defined by it. 

My dad instinctively knew the unnecessary drama I created and pushed me not to hide at home and wallow in the stories and emotional pain they caused, feeding them and allowing them to grow. To him, doing the hard thing (in this case, go to school) despite what my mind told me to do (stay home and hide) was a way of telling my mind that I’m in charge, that I don’t care what stories it makes up, I’m going to forge ahead in life anyway. That it can’t define me, I define myself.  

How are you defining yourself?

How to stay peaceful and calm (& loving) when the world around you is chaotic (& nasty)

The #1 question I’ve been getting recently is how to stay peaceful and calm when everything around you is in utter chaos, disruption and turmoil. 

As one of my course students in America aptly puts it: 

Everyone’s hating on everyone for everything. No one’s truly present and each side is claiming the other side is closed-minded and brainwashed, and in a way, they’re all right. It’s like we’re all existing in some sort of invisible fog that’s taken over our minds and destroyed our ability to think and see clearly, be kind, loving and compassionate. As a sensitive person whose core value is LOVE, even I’m having a hard time being loving, especially when I’m triggered, which seems to be a lot these days. How do I remain true to my loving self when things are so nasty out there? 

Mark G.

The photo above is from my high school yearbook. Along with 2 others, I was voted “Calmest” in our school. I’m the one sitting on the far right. No matter what was going on around me, I remained unruffled (at least externally). People have often told me I’m the calm in the midst of a storm. Back then, part of my calmness was because every time I got emotional, people became uncomfortable and I found that it was better for everyone if I remained – at least on the outside – emotionless and quiet (which came across as calm). It was part innate and part trained. Now, over 30 years later, I’m still calm but my calmness is much more informed, grounded and deeper than it used to be.

A few years ago, I received a vision while practicing transcendental meditation. I was sitting in lotus position (the traditional cross-legged, straight-back pose with hands palm up on each knee) on my bedroom floor. In the vision, the room, walls and house around me dissolved and parts of my life appeared, swirling around me, coming and going like flashes of a character’s life on a movie screen. Unlike in a theater, the screen surrounded me in a circle radius and I was able to see the scenes from all angles, even behind me.

I saw my 16 year old self staring out my bedroom window at night in the small rural town of Platte City, Missouri, crying and looking out toward the quarter mile long dirt driveway for my then-boyfriend’s old rusty blue Chevy pickup truck. I spent many nights waiting for him, obsessing over him, crying over him because I didn’t know my own worth back then and I’d made him out to be the only evidence and gauge of it. Without his attention, validation and love, I was nothing. When we broke up, I thought I was going to die. He was the only one who’d ever love me, I thought. 

I saw my 21 year old self on my birthday, lying face up depleted and exhausted in the cool sand of Long Beach, California, staring up in desperation toward the sky. It was a brisk fall day (by sunny California standards) and no one else was out. I was glad to be alone and begged God to let the sand swallow me up, to let me disappear. No one would notice, I pleaded, please have mercy and let my suffering end. I didn’t realize this was merely the beginning of a decade-long battle with deep depression. I waited over an hour, thinking He was busy and would get to it as soon as He can. But He never did. By the time I left the beach, I had only one thought about God: Asshole.

I saw my 25 year old self, drunken and dancing at a Halloween party in Los Angeles, California, wearing a black faux patent leather dominatrix costume that barely covered my girl parts and a long curly black wig that reeked of cigarette smoke and fallen souls. It was my attempt to fit into the world, not just with the “cool kids” but with people and society in general. I was always an outsider and it had become clear to me that deep thinking and feeling was the killer of joy, friendship and a good life, so I drank to numb myself and acted the way everyone else acted in order to belong, and hopefully, if I was lucky, find some of that happiness that everyone else seemed to have. It didn’t work.

I saw my 42 year old self, taking out the trash one inconspicuous morning at the small apartment I moved to after a brutally devastating breakup that nearly broke my soul and left me without a house, a business and savings, everything I’d been building for the past 5+ years. Holding a Hefty white tall kitchen trash bag in my hand, unshowered and alone, walking toward the communal dumpster bins, I felt the warmth of the sun on my face, looked up to the sky, and suddenly a profound wave of joy rose up within me and washed over me, cleansing me of the sadness that had consumed me only moments before. It was the moment I fully realized that joy had been there all along, my entire life, just waiting for me to notice it. It was my natural state of being and all it took was being distracted enough by taking out the trash to let go of my unnatural state of being, my internal and external drama, even if only for a split second. But it was long enough to notice something else, something real and ever-present.  

In addition to seeing moments of my life, I also saw moments in history. I saw the witch hunts of Salem, Caesar’s rule, the tragedy of 9/11 and more personally, my mother orphaned as a teenager struggling to survive in Vietnam, and my father joining the military out of high school, full of American pride and determination to make a difference.

As I sat in my room, I saw the vision of myself sitting in one place perfectly still while the scenes around me shifted and fluctuated with humanity’s thoughts and emotions, ranging from fear and suffering to joy and love, and peace and contentment to stress and worry. They were my own, people I knew and society’s as a whole. It all swirled together in one big quantum mixture of existence called “life”, and I saw the future, which was no different than the past and present, the same fleeting thoughts and emotions fluctuating through time. 

And all the while, I remained sitting, still, myself. 

The one constant in this experience was the watcher. A multitude of scenes from my life, my loved ones’ lives, humanity’s struggles through time, past present and future, came and went, while the watcher, the one witnessing it all, remained constant, a sustained eternal presence, perhaps expanded from the experience yet unchanged and whole.  

Coming out of the meditation, I realized that WHO I AM, who I REALLY am, has nothing to do with what’s swirling around outside of me. Whether it was pain or pleasure, sorrow or joy, the real me remained unharmed, unchanged and unaffected by anything happening “out there” and while the human me was deeply affected by the fluctuations of the human condition, the real me, the soul me, was sitting in meditation watching it all unfold. 

I always remember that gift of a vision when the world around me becomes chaotic. I imagine that there’s a soul me sitting somewhere in meditation and the life that’s happening right now is what’s flashing on the screen for the soul me to witness. The human me, my human life and the external world is what she’s watching on her ethereal 360 degree movie screen. It helps me step back into the seat of the soul and remember that everything in this life is temporary. 

Everything from our thoughts and emotions to our challenges and struggles is fluctuating and shifting on the big screen of the movie called “life”, temporary flashes of moments in time.

And there’s a higher reality, a transcendent presence, that’s witnessing all of it. Watching. Loving. Being. Emanating calm, peace and acceptance in the midst of the chaos on the screen.

When we silence our drama long enough to catch a glimpse of this emanating calm, we wake up from the dense fog of madness and begin to see more clearly, with presence and wisdom. We step back into our authentic, natural state of being which is pure love, joy and peace, and regardless of what’s happening “out there”, we can experience it without getting lost in it.

What to do with powerful feelings of dread, doom and foreboding

I woke up this morning with an intense feeling of dread.

This is not normal for me as I usually wake up with a feeling of excited anticipation for the day ahead, not an anxious feeling of impending doom. 

I felt light headed, like the feeling you get when you’re overly hungry, except my stomach was full of cement. 

The first thing I did was check in with the present moment, go within and ask “what’s this feeling about?” Taking long, deep breaths and silencing my mind, I waited for an answer. But the more I sat in the feeling, allowing it and not resisting it, the stronger the dread became and waves of nausea washed over me, forcing me to run to the bathroom to throw up. 

I then called my beloved, who’d already been at work for an hour, and said, “please don’t take any risks today,” but deep down, I knew that whatever’s meant to happen will happen regardless of how safe and cautious he, or anyone, is. It was a futile grasp for control and I knew it but I did it anyway because I wanted to feel in control even though I knew I wasn’t.  

That sense of control quickly faded as soon as I hung up and the foreboding unease increased ten fold, rising up powerfully within my body and being, and I noticed my mind was starting to make up possible gloomy scenarios of what might happen and running through a list of people in my life and who something bad could happen to today. 

I know how this plays out all too well. Been there, done that. The highly sensitive mind has an innate tendency to consider all possible outcomes as well as ruminate about things endlessly. We also like to analyze things from every angle so we can understand it better. It’s easy for a sensitive soul to get carried away by their thoughts and emotions if they haven’t practiced grounding themselves, mindfulness and staying in their own true power. 

I didn’t want to end up like this:

So I turned to the quickest and easiest disruptor to let the energy of dread (or any powerful emotion) flow through me without getting lost in the thoughts and feelings of it: EXERCISE.

Moving your body physically is a great way to release any powerful emotion, allowing it to flow through rather than getting stuck in us. It transforms it from a raging river to a trickling stream so that you can better process and understand it without getting swept away in its current. And exercise doesn’t require any inner work such as changing your mindset, witnessing or self-reflection. 

I grabbed the dogs, put on my shoes and went for a brisk walk outside. 

But don’t think my mind didn’t try to wander off into the bad possibilities that might happen while on a walk… What if there’s a coyote and it attacks my dogs? What if a car doesn’t see me and runs over us? What if I have a heart attack and die in the middle of the field and no one finds me? What if a plane falls from the sky and crashes on us? What if the very act of trying to release the feelings of doom actually causes the thing of doom to happen? 

My mind went to all those places and more before I was able to reign it back in, put a leash on it and take it for a walk alongside the dogs. 

Nature is also a powerful calmer-downer of intense energy. Being in the stillness and unconditional acceptance of the trees, flowers or sky can immediately calm one’s energy. When I returned home, I was back to my normal, centered self and could acknowledge the dread without getting lost in it or being fearful of it. 

I still have a feeling of dread but it’s not intense or overpowering as it was early this morning. It’s more like a subtle pulsing rather than a throbbing fury, and much more manageable. Now I can process the energy while remaining grounded. I don’t want to transmute it because it’s here for a reason. Our emotions, especially the random, unexpected and powerful ones that come out of nowhere, bring gifts of messages for us. Whether it’s something we’re ready to bring to light, an unresolved or unconscious issue, a loving forewarning of things to come, or a communication someone’s imparting on us, if we can center ourselves enough to acknowledge, allow and honor it, we just might receive the gift.   

 

Soul Mates and Soul Contracts

In the midst of a global pandemic, political, public and planetary disruption, my family and I managed to find a pocket of profound peace, love and joy this week when we met our sister we never knew we had. 

A recent DNA test revealed a sister of 47 years abandoned in Vietnam, left behind by my father who took his other three daughters (me included) back to the United States during the fall of Vietnam. My two sisters and I grew up not knowing we had another sister who had been looking for us her entire life. We don’t know if our father knew about her or not but we can’t imagine he would’ve left her behind had he known. You can read my post about it and watch the ABC news story here.  

This week, despite quarantine orders and concerns for Covid-19, we each traveled from four different states with our husbands and kids to one location to meet in person for the first time ever. 

While home, we all comply to the mask and social distancing ordinances, but during our reunion, we could barely comply to one inch distancing as our hearts, souls and bodies collided in a divinely orchestrated homecoming that the writer in me struggles to describe. 

Words fail me as I try to adequately express what happened this week but I’ll do my best to come close.  

 

WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO MEET A SOULMATE

 

Imagine living in the same house for 49 years. You love the house, knowing it inside and out, and have taken great care throughout the decades to keep it clean, functional and thriving, fixing and updating things here and there as they become outdated. Then one day you go into the attic and stumble across a box tucked away in a corner. You’ve never seen this box in all your years of living in this house, nor do you have any idea how it got there, the history of it or what’s inside. But in the same moment that you see the box, a key appears in the lock. You twist the key to unlock it and inside is a part of you, an energetic extension of who you are, that merely by discovering it, makes you more whole than you were moments before. You’ve become more of yourself, fulfilling a potential YOU that might never have been had you not found and opened the box.  

Meeting my sister, Margaret, in person for the first time was like discovering a locked place in my heart that I didn’t know existed but evidently was reserved just for her and could only be found and unlocked by her. When we embraced, a part of me became not only unhidden, but also alive, and I became more than I was before we hugged. 

I expanded.

It felt as if my soul opened wider and the Universe became bigger. I became more of me because of her, and I surprisingly discovered in that box that I’ve known and loved her soul long before I ever knew or met her in person.

When I first met my soulmate partner, Joe, I felt an electrical current run through my body. Even though we were both in different relationships back then, every time I saw him, my lower lip quivered and I could barely speak. It was embarrassing and I didn’t know what to make of it, let alone how to hide it when around him. It was as if being physically near him was too much for my body and it had to shake the energy out through my bottom lip and jaw. Why it couldn’t shake itself out through my foot discreetly where no one could see is beyond me, but instead, it was right there in plain sight on my face where neither of us could deny. 

Despite the intensity and mystery of the electrical pulses, I dismissed them since I was in a happy relationship with someone else, not thinking much about Joe other than when I physically saw him every few months or so and my body did its weird uncontrollable shaking thing. It was only when we were in physical proximity that I reacted that way and paid any attention to it or him. We had met at work and were platonic co-workers in different departments long before we became friends, after both of our relationships ended, and then, finally, partners. 

To this day, my body still shakes sometimes when I see him. 

When I physically hugged Margaret for the first time, a similar electrical pulse ran through me. It wasn’t nearly as intense but it was there, nevertheless, and I felt a warm homecoming, as if we had both arrived home after a long, treacherous journey apart. It was like coming home to a part of me I didn’t know was missing and I felt energy flow through my body. 

Meeting soulmates doesn’t always result in feeling powerful energetic surges. Sometimes there’s a subtle sense of recognition as if you’ve met them before or you feel a connection to them even though you can’t explain it, and sometimes you don’t notice anything different. The extent to which you feel is a combination of how open and present you are in the moment of meeting them along with the depth of your soul contract with them. 

 

WHAT IS A SOULMATE?

 

I believe that soulmates aren’t only romantic partners, but also those we have soul contracts with before we came here to this particular life on earth. It could be a father, mother, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, friend, lover, husband, wife, co-worker, boss, elementary school teacher, anyone we come into contact with who we’ve mutually agreed to:

1) learn from, for any lessons, big or small

and/or 

2) experience life with, for any duration, short or long

 

WHAT IS A SOUL CONTRACT?

 

While it may appear that Margaret and I are two different individuals, separated from one another, each of us having our own varying life experiences, thoughts, feelings, bodies and journeys, the truth is we are all one, and Margaret and I come from the same source, the same divinity and light that you and everyone else also comes from. 

We are extensions of that one source, each person, each soul a part of the one. 

Before we agreed to come to earth to expand and explore, we made soul contracts with those soul extensions to unite and walk parts of our journey together. Some soul contracts are made to help one another learn things we wanted to learn, and grow in ways we wanted to grow, and some are made purely for the joy of experiencing parts of this life together. And sometimes it’s a combination of both. 

Some soulmates cause nothing but pain and torment if we don’t learn from them, while others bring joy and depth into our lives. 

That’s why some soulmates cause you the deepest grief and pain, but also teach you the most profound lessons and create tremendous opportunities for inner growth. These are often family members or romantic partners. My soulmate father was my greatest tormentor and my greatest teacher. Through my journey with him on earth, I learned how to love unconditionally, forgive fiercely and stand powerfully. The day he died, a heavy part of me died too, and I felt a lightness of being, as if a long-standing contract had finally been fulfilled. 

Every soul contract has its own level of difficulty or ease. 

There are soul contracts that are fulfilled in an easy, short or chance encounter, like when you read an author’s words that changes your life, or a high school counselor veers you in a positive direction away from a destructive path you almost took, or when your first boss sticks her neck out to give you a job despite your lack of experience. Neither of you have any idea why she believes in you after only meeting you once for a few minutes, but she “just has a gut feeling” about you or sees something in you that others don’t. 

And there are soul contracts that take a lifetime until they’re fulfilled, if ever, depending on your willingness to learn the lesson and the depth of your karmic relationship together.

 

SPIRITUAL TETHERS

 

We are spiritually tethered to those we have open soul contracts with. 

If you’ve ever been in a toxic relationship with someone and have long since broken up but find it nearly impossible to let them go (or they won’t let you go), even though the relationship was unhealthy in every way, and there’s something binding you to them like a child or a financial or legal obligation, or even your thoughts and emotions, this is usually because you haven’t yet fulfilled your soul contract with them. Despite your attempts to move on and live your life in peace, the tether binds you together energetically. If they’re physically out of your life, you may still find it difficult to undo the damage that’s been done emotionally, mentally and spiritually and move forward.

By the way, a sure sign that you still have an unfulfilled soul contract with someone is that you have a manifested contract with them, like a legal agreement in some way, shape or form (financial support, business commitments, shared child custody, etc). The sooner both of you learn the lessons you came here to learn from one another, the sooner the contracts will end, on a spiritual level as well as an earth level. 

But not all contracts were created to end. My soul contracts with my mother and sisters are for a lifetime of learning and enjoying this life journey together. I love being spiritually tethered to them, it helps me feel divinely connected, stronger and more whole. I learn alot about myself through them and we lift each other up when one of us is down. 

I had an inner battle with one of my sisters growing up. I was always in her shadow, people told me I should be more like her, tougher, more vocal and outgoing, and I resented her for it. I was jealous of her and it took me well into my twenties to learn the lessons I came here to learn from her. To not only be confident in myself as I am, and embrace my own sensitive, quiet qualities, but also to be able to see her independent of my perception of her as “the popular sister”. 

She flew from her home in the east coast to visit me in California for a weekend in my twenties, and I spent the entire time resenting her, being angry at everything she said and did, thinking she was putting me down and dismissing me because she felt better than me. But those were my internal issues that I projected outward onto her. It wasn’t until she left and I missed her that I suddenly realized I had been seeing her through my lens of “shy little sister who could never be as good as popular big sister” and everything she said and did was skewed through that filter. 

For the three days that she was with me, I never once saw HER, as a person, outside of my big sister/little sister filter, and I cried for days after she left because I wasted our precious time together stuck in my own past perceptions and stories, and was never fully present and open to her as an individual person outside of me, with her own life, her own struggles and her own journey completely independent of me. In the time after our childhood years, she became a wife and mother, and had her own learning journey, and yet all I could see was a big sister who was always better than me. 

I wrote her a letter and apologized, and from that moment on, every time I see her or any of my family, I remember to be fully present to them, as they are now, not who they were or who I was and not through the lens of any unresolved issues, but to let it all go, and love and enjoy them exactly as each of us are in this moment, because our time together on this earth is short and our tether proves that we made a pact to be together, to walk together and experience this complex, beautiful and brutal life together. 

Our soul mates help us become more of who we are.

Our soul contracts ensure we have the adequate motivation, determination and inspiration to get there, should we choose to honor them. 

When Positive Thinking Becomes Dangerous (Warning: Bloody TreeDoodle)

*Disclaimer: No stick figures were harmed in the making of this TreeDoodle. It’s pretend blood (ketchup) and special effects. 

I used to believe positive thinking was the key to happiness and fulfillment. I even wrote an article in Positive Thinking magazine titled “Act Positive, Become Positive!”

I’ve grown a lot since the article was published in 2005. 

I’m no longer an advocate of thinking or acting in any way contrary to how we’re feeling. Trying to control our thoughts, push away our emotions or deny the present moment is disingenuous. By avoiding or dismissing our true feelings in the here and now, we dishonor ourselves.

I had been doing that for the majority of my life. Because the world told me I was supposed to “smile and be happy” and “don’t be so emotional and sensitive,” and “why are you so depressed, you have nothing to be depressed about,” I quickly discovered that people were uncomfortable around my deep emotions so I needed to “tone it down” and mute myself so others can be more comfortable around me. 

After 40+ years of pretending to be someone I’m not, I finally realized that I was dishonoring myself in the name of “being positive” and fitting in. So now I teach a powerful process of allowing our emotions to flow, fully, openly, as we witness them from the seat of awareness, love and compassion which leads to a more positive mindset that comes naturally and with ease, rather than a willed, forced attempt to “think positive”. 

We’ve all had moments when we were in a slightly bad mood, maybe something didn’t quite go our way and we got a bit cranky or frustrated, and someone reminded us of the good things we have. Sometimes a simple reminder is enough to get back on the positive track, realizing that the negative thing that happened isn’t worth fretting over after all. When this happens, our energy lightens and shifts to a more positive state, and we’re not pretending, denying or pushing away the negative, instead our perspective and understanding expands to a broader vision (to encompass the negative and positive) rather than remaining narrowly focused on the negative only.

In this case, positive thinking is helpful because we weren’t deeply wounded to begin with.

 

“THINK POSITIVE” IS BAD ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL ADVICE

 

Like most axioms, people tend to generalize positive thinking as an all-or-nothing blanket rule to practice in all aspects of our lives all the time. 

Saying to someone who’s struggling with depression and mental illness, “you have to look on the bright side, think positive!” is dismissive and incredibly harmful. 

Telling someone who’s learning a new skill to think positive rather than getting down on themselves for not mastering it yet is helpful. 

Positive thinking is a mental act, a state of mind, that in many cases can shift one’s energy toward a healthier, happier state of being and living. But sometimes, taking positive physical action toward the thing you want and confronting your negative thoughts or emotions results in a more positive state of being naturally, instead of feigning or forcing a positive mental attitude. 

For example, if you’ve been out of work due to the COVID-19 shutdown, it’s more helpful to spend your time looking for a job, updating your resume and working on overcoming your fear and uncertainty with practiced trust and acceptance, or if you can financially afford it, using that spare time as an opportunity to slow down and do things you enjoy, rather than lie around in bed all day for months complaining about being unemployed and desperately willing yourself to look on the bright side.

There’s a time to honor the negative feelings of having lost the job, but those feelings need not last for months, or even days. 

 

THE POWER OF EMOTIONAL CLEARING TO INDUCE POSITIVE THINKING

 

Understanding your emotions as simply energy in motion and learning how to move them through you frees you from days, months and years of bondage to them. Rather than getting stuck in the bad feelings of losing our job and spending the next few months drowning in them, if we allow those unpleasant feelings to flow freely, without resistance, latching on to them or creating stories around them, they’ll come and go quickly, leaving us open to more positive, better feeling energy, and then positive thinking comes naturally as a result, rather than a forced mental concept. 

The problem is that’s where most people get stuck. Not knowing how to flow their energy. And that’s when they try to slap positive thinking on top of limiting beliefs and painful emotion, which then becomes nothing more than a cover-up, a pretense, a temporary feel-good band aid that hides the deeper wound and inhibits its healing. 

If you have negative self-identified stories around being unemployed, whether they’re old stories from the past or new ones, you create deeper wounds that need more than positive thinking to overcome it. Perhaps your dad lost his job when you were a kid and you saw the family well-being go downhill after that, with your parents fighting all the time or not being able to have the nice things your friends had, for example. Maybe you equate being unemployed with being a loser, lazy, rejected, deadbeat, not valued, useless, etc. Maybe you see it as a reflection of your worth. Whatever stories you’ve created around being unemployed, your emotions will mirror your belief in those stories. 

Some people are unemployed and feel incredibly free and grateful for the extra time to work on fulfilling their dreams. They have different stories about being unemployed. 

It goes deeper than merely positive thinking from a mental level, it’s rooted in our beliefs about things such as unemployment and about ourselves inherently, which causes us to feel good or bad about it. 

 

THE HARM AND DANGER OF POSITIVE THINKING

 

Trying to force yourself to think positive when you have deep rooted beliefs and stuck, unresolved energy only causes you to feel worse about yourself. You start wondering if there’s something wrong with you, why everyone else seems to be able to “get it” except you, and you feel weak, unspiritual, unevolved, broken or otherwise not good enough or even deserving enough. It causes a downward spiral that makes it worse than before you tried to think positive, and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that holds you captive in your negative loop. 

This is when positive thinking becomes harmful and dangerous. It not only avoids the real cause of your unhappiness, the unresolved wound, it also veers you further away from healing it. 

There’s a famous saying, “In order to heal, you must feel.” 

I like to say, “In order to heal, you must flow.” 

I know, it doesn’t sound as poetic as the rhyming version but how about this:

In order to let go, you must flow. 

Better?

If we want to let go of anything (beliefs, thoughts, emotions), we can’t resist them. Resisting and pushing them away only makes them stronger and binds them to us merely by the magnetic energy of resistance. If emotions are energy in motion, they need to be in motion, not tucked away, shoved aside or locked up in the corner of our hearts because it’s too painful to deal with. 

Some people hold on to their painful stories and emotions unconsciously because they’re so accustomed to thinking and feeling that way, they don’t know who they are without it. To them, it’s better to feel bad than to face the uncertainty of having no identity.

HOW TO MOVE NEGATIVE OR DENSE ENERGY THROUGH YOU

 

Beliefs, thoughts and emotions are all energy. We create thought-forms with our consistent, tightly held beliefs and those thought-forms create their own thought-forms and we carry them throughout our lives, stacking up old thought-forms on top of new thought-forms and before we know it, we feel trapped and suffocated because there are so many thought-forms weighing on us heavily. This is the same with our emotions.

And we wonder why we consistently feel so bad, even when things are good, and why we can’t just flip a switch and “think positive” like other people we know. It’s because they’re not carrying around so many dense energy-forms. 

We quite literally have a dark cloud hanging over us, following us around. From an energetic level, this dark cloud is the dense energy created from negative thought and emotion forms. 

So how do we let go?

We let go by letting them flow. 

We don’t try to cover them up under the pretense of positive thinking. We don’t try to push them away or deny them. We don’t smile when we feel like crying. We don’t look on the bright side when our wounds are raw and bleeding. We don’t try to think or be or do anything other than who we are in this moment. 

If who we are in this moment is a self-pitying, bubbling mess, we allow the thoughts and feelings to flow through us without latching on to them or resisting them. We LET ourselves be a self-pitying, bubbling mess. We witness ourselves unfolding, releasing, crying, screaming, whatever it is we’re feeling, and we breathe into it with compassion, love and acceptance.

If we’re not feeling particularly compassionate, loving or accepting of ourselves, we breathe into that too and allow it to flow. We continue to flow whatever it is we’re feeling, no matter what it is.

It’s the flowing and the releasing, with complete allowing, that heals the wound. Acceptance is cleansing. 

 

THREE TIPS TO HELP YOU RELEASE NEGATIVE THOUGHT & EMOTION

1. Set a meditation cushion, yoga mat, pillow, towel or something similar in a quiet space in your home. Could be a closet, a corner of a bedroom, the bathtub. Whatever space that you can energetically clear as a “safe space” where you can feel safe to flow your emotions. Designate this spot a “no judgement zone” where even if you’re judging yourself, you’re gently reminded to let the judgment go. So any thoughts and emotions can be free to fully flow through you, no matter what they are, positive or negative.

The intention isn’t to change, fix or manipulate our feelings to more positive feelings. The intention is to simply LET whatever feelings we feel flow so that they can pass through unobstructed by our resistance.

 

2. Write your thoughts out in a journal or piece of paper. Thoughts, like emotions, need to flow too. When you write, they don’t remain stuck in your mind floating around endlessly repeating themselves over and over, they flow from your mind through your body and onto a piece of paper outside of you. In this way, they lose some of their power over you because they’re no longer held captive inside you. 

Take your worst thoughts that you’d never admit to anyone and express them onto the paper freely, openly. Often, we push away thoughts because they’re unkind or unspiritual and we judge ourselves for being awful to even think them, but when we deny them, they turn into thought-forms that linger around. (This is why we keep repeating the same thoughts over and over and over day after day year after year, by the way.) Writing them out releases them to be free to move along, away from us, and dissipate. (Or be latched onto by another similarly vibrating passing thought-form of someone else. But that’s another article for another time!) If it makes you feel safer, rip it up and throw it away when you’re done.

 

3. If the thoughts and emotions are overpowering and don’t allow you to sit still or quiet your racing mind, use your body to help them flow through you. Whether it’s dancing around your house, jumping up and down, shaking your arms or jogging in place, the intention is to get your body physically moving for a few moments so that the frenetic energy inside you can be released. You can also vocalize it by making noises, sighing consciously and using your vocal chords as an avenue of their escape. It doesn’t take long, a few minutes of jiggling about and making nonsensical grunts does wonders to release the pent up energy inside you.

 

Like the fallacy of the “one-size-fits-all” advice to think positive, these tips aren’t “done-once-then-healed”. It takes time to release old, stuck energy, especially if the wounds are deep. 

It took us a lifetime to stack one unfaced emotion on top of another and another and another. It won’t go away with one try. Sometimes we get lucky and release a heavy load in one session but often it’s a day to day, moment to moment practice of releasing and allowing, releasing and allowing, each time painful thoughts and emotions surface. 

It takes consistent practice until one day it becomes a habit. And eventually that habit turns into our way of being, everyday, and we can walk around the majority of the time BEING positive instead of tediously trying to will ourselves to think positive.

Knowing where you are on your empathic and emotional journey can help you so you don’t waste your time on advice or techniques that will only make things worse for you, spiraling you down even further into the pit of self-doubt and pain unnecessarily. For Alchemists, the reminder to think positive typically works in most situations since their state of being is one of positivity and joy. For Identifiers who are still struggling to release deep painful emotions, the reminder to think positive can do more harm than good. Click here to see which of the four stages you’re in so you can better understand what works for you and what doesn’t.