‘Residue’

‘a small amount of something that remains after the main part has gone’

We have a growing number of life experiences. The people we meet, the places we go…some exciting, adventurous, they make us come alive. Other experiences, more rough, they leave some bruises and don’t quite fit. But each leaves its mark on us, it changes us, maybe only slightly, but we’ve changed.

The experiences that made us come alive – they may leave a residue of joy, inspiration – we embrace these feelings fondly and allow them to propel us further, allow them to push us out of our comfort zone and grow.

But the experiences that left bruises – we tend to ignore them. When we’re reminded of them, we shrug them off quickly and bury them deep. We don’t want to go back. They may bring up sadness of something lost, anger at something that hurt, disappointment at a dream unrealized.

When we’re reminded of these times, we may feel frozen in panic, the feeling, the memory, it consumes us, our breath gets caught and we may feel like our heart actually hurts.

How do we deal with this residue? Keep ignoring it until it goes away? We could…but this will limit our growth instead of expanding it.

So how do we find the opportunity for growth?

Acknowledge that the residue is a part of you.

You can’t wish the residue away. It simply doesn’t work like that. You may use distractions to run away for a short time – friends, sleep, food, drinks, shopping, working out, all provide a temporary escape but acceptance is the only way we can start to see the residue’s purpose.

Instead of running away, face it, accept it and work with it.

Pick it up like play-doh and describe it.

It’s hurt. It’s disappointment. It’s trying and not getting what you want. It’s loving deeply and feeling loss. It’s sadness. It’s anger, defeat, deep pain. It’s unanswered questions. It’s incomplete, it’s grey.

Seriously, describe it and say it out loud.

There it is. Out in the open. Take it in your hands. It’s tangible, it’s workable.

Breathe.

Get to the root – see the story you’ve created.

Emotions are one thing but the story-line we create around the emotion is where we limit ourselves.

The feeling comes up – a jolt of anger, sadness, disappointment, frustration, fear – but do you see the story associated with it?

“I’ve been disrespected”, “bad stuff always happens to me”, “I’m not good enough”, “I’ll never get it right”, “they’re a horrible person”

Do you know this to be true with 100% certainty? No. These are the stories the ego creates to protect itself.

Stick to the facts. Come out of the story. The story can cause us to react in unhealthy ways. We bury our residue so deep that we don’t connect our actions to the pain, we don’t see the patterns of behaviour that we keep repeating because we’re not facing the pain, the fear.

Healing and growth requires work.

Don’t run

Notice yourself wanting to ignore the residue, run away from it, wishing it would flush out of your system, disappear.  Distractions will give you the false notion that you have healed, that you have successfully gotten away, the escape is rewarding, and so we repeat it over and over again, but the escape is temporary.

You’re not alone in how you feel. But can you sit still and alone with this feeling? Can you pause, breathe and be still to acknowledge what’s happening?

We want to run, that’s natural, it’s our fight or flight response kicking in, wanting to protect us from this perceived threat. Except that it’s not a threat, it’s a perception created by story not by fact. You can sit through it, I know it.

The residue has a purpose. It is full of opportunity – to open your heart further, to have compassion for what so many others are also feeling but may not be acknowledging or expressing.

Act differently

It may not feel like it but you have everything you need to be whole, to succeed, to feel joy, to feel safe and secure – you have always had it all and nothing can touch that.

Know that you are enough in this very moment and let that bring you the courage to do things differently. What habit can you change? What reactive patterns have you created based on your story? Break those patterns now and consciously CHOOSE to act purposefully, according to your best self.

Your intuition wants to speak to you, it wants to tell you what’s in your best interest but if you’re always rushing, always letting your mind control you, you won’t hear it. Create a pause, create some space and silence to listen.

It won’t stay the same. 

Nothing is permanent or static. Other experiences will come and mix with our residue, changing  it, allowing us to see it differently, creating new residues…it’s in accepting this that we can let go of the overwhelming feelings, allow ourselves to move forward instead of running away, allow ourselves to face our fears instead of hiding from them and wishing them away.

No matter what, the residue can be held in our hands, it’s tangible – let’s pick it up, realize it’s not too big to handle, see our usual patterns and choose to face our fears and do things differently this time.

The scratches and bruises, they won’t break you, you’re so much stronger than you think, you’re not alone, you can get back up, there are so many hands that have your back, mine are just one of them.