Storytime.  This is still a little raw.  It’s not life-threatening or anything, but.. oh so frustrating.

First, I need to tell you a little about the process of creating these HSP illustrations I have been sharing.  I struck on this art style to create words within boundaries.  I start with a box that I divide up and the words kind of fit themselves into the space.  I literally create and hold space for each word.

It’s fun and absorbing as I pencil it together.  Then I black-ink the pencil lines once it all feels balanced and complete.  Next, I scan it and darken the contrast using an old version of Adobe Photoshop that I have on my computer.  While I’m in Photoshop, I “fix” areas where lines don’t quite touch or are a little thick or thin. I erase lines that went too far, erase pencil marks or straighten a wobble etc.  I have to keep talking to myself to avoid spending hour upon hour on this step because the kind of pixel-detail I sometimes trap myself in will mostly not be seen in the end.  It’s like moving molecules under a microscope.  (Insert eyeroll at myself here.)

Now it is ready to make a paper copy and begin the process of designing the colored doodle design.  I’m not sure how many hours of work I have put into it by that point.  The coloring part will take another few hours.  But I enjoy each step and don’t watch the clock.

One day I was making a paper copy of a template design I had drawn by hand, scanned and digitally cleaned.  I have no idea how one of my completed art pieces got in a small stack of blank pages, upside and inside the printer.  My heart sank when I realized that I had printed over the top of my original artwork.

After fretting about it for a couple of days, I put it away and tried to forget about it.  I succeeded… until today as I began to write about “Staying in the Space without Giving into Distraction”.  I went looking for my picture and found it.  There it was–my forgotten mistake before my eyes.   The emotion came right back up.  “How could I do something so stupid?”  Then I consoled myself, “This is not life-threatening.  You have a digital scan of this.  Really, this is not a problem.”

I am realizing the irony.  There is emotional pain associated with my mistake.  It was too much for me to keep sitting with it when it happened.  I chose (either consciously or unconsciously) to distract myself from the pain by putting away the reminder of it and literally forgetting it.

Some emotional pain is so intense (much more intense than this example), that we bury the pain hoping it will be gone forever if we distract ourself and forget it.  We all did this (and probably got good at it) to survive childhood.  Sometimes those old, buried issue surface and we don’t even know what it is from.  When we feel old stuff surface it can feel intense, confusing, unfair and frustrating.

Many (probably all of us) turn to some form of addiction to get a quick-fix distraction when we feel uncomfortable.  Addictions range from drugs, alcohol and sex to binging on exercising, running, reading, food, TV, YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and plenty of other “vices”.

Beating ourselves up about our “vices” and mindless addictions only makes matters worse.

Becoming aware of our personal pattern of running away from emotional pain is the first step to healing it.  The next step is to allow ourselves to lean into the pain a little bit.  (Feeling feelings.)  The more we can stay aware and process the energy-in-motion, the greater our capacity to tolerate and bounce back from challenges and find balance and healing.

Here is the trick.  Know when you have reached your emotional limit.  With awareness, choose a GOOD (not harmful) distraction.  Do something you can enjoy within appropriate boundaries that that uplifts you and allows you to leave the emotional work for a while.  BUT, you must promise yourself to return to the e-motion and not bury it.

“Feelings buried alive never die.” -Karol K. Truman

It can be hard to get back to your emotional work.  It is almost always best to feel and process it while it is up on the radar.  The emotional energy can become elusive and hard to beckon back on cue.  Think of whatever emotional stuff that is on the screen as a blessing to be able to clean out at the time it is ready to be moved out.

In my opinion, it is OK to “call in sick” for “emotional cleaning” on days it comes up.  (“Calling in sick” looks different for stay-at-home moms.  It might look like canceling a playdate for your toddler and letting him/her have extra videos to give you some space to do your emotional work.)

Can you relate to what Rachel Sargent wrote?:

The Holding Space Practice gives me permission to feel my feelings, without shaming or rejecting parts of my emotional life, but rather seeing all emotions as valid, that deserve their own space. Emotions can be helpful information, even if they are not pleasant.  The tool of “Gently Noticing with Curiosity” helps me remember to be, see what is, and withhold judgment.  “Staying in the Space without Distraction” has become a mantra for me, as this fast-paced modern life is full to the brim with distractions that can impede connection with others and even the very experience of our being in our own life.

You are stronger than you know and getting stronger as you stay with the Holding Space Practice work!  Like Rachel said, you could use “Stay in the space.  Don’t give in to distraction”  as a mantra.  Repeat it over and over in your mind.  Coloring and repeating this (or another mantra) as you color can help it get inside of you!

Click on picture to get coloring page


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