Article and Photography by Rachel Leah Gerson
At 05:44 EST tomorrow, the winter solstice will be upon us to bring about both the shortest day and longest night of the year. It is at this time in the calendar year that many people feel some sort of longing, or an innate sadness. I’ve found that it has been exponentially so in this year we’ve been calling “2016”- the year that has given us the gift of hardship so that we might face our shadows, and step into the light of our newest selves. This year has been tough for a lot of us- myself included- although as a good friend and client of mine put it, maybe it’s not necessarily “tough”, but “different”. This year has just been a different year, a year we hadn’t expected, a year that many of us were not prepared for, and so, yes, indeed, if you were looking at 2016 through the same lens as you had 2015 or 2014, then perhaps it was a difficult year. But it has also been a year that has brought much growth. Sometimes it takes the “different” times (or the difficult times- however you choose to look at it) to wake us up, to make us moult, and to force us out of our sheds and into our new skins. Whether it’s the feeling of not wanting to let go, or fear of the unknown, or the feelings of confusion and uncomfortability in navigating your newest body, sometimes a sadness or anxiety or depression can set on, and that’s okay.
It is OKAY to feel SAD. It is OKAY to feel DEPRESSED. It is OKAY to feel ANXIOUS or SCARED or BEWILDERED or CONFUSED or ANGRY or FRUSTRATED or any of the other emotions that we try to force ourselves to push down just because someone told us it was not okay to feel them. Because of all of the years that society has made us feel like it is not okay to feel them. Because we have been told to, “get over it” or “move on” or “grow up” or “just be happy”. We have been told that these emotions only hold negative content; negative connotation; negative outcome. That there is no place for them in our lives other than to poison us and promote our self-destruction.
But that is simply not true.
We have these emotions for a reason.
These emotions are here to help us to transform.
They are here to help guide us to our next selves; our next steps; our next possibilities and realities and greatnesses.
They are how we process things.
They are how we grow.
These emotions can sometimes onset when we are intentionally trying to change. When we wake up that morning and realise, “Wow… I really don’t like this aspect of myself”, and we do the work to try and change that aspect; to maybe even be rid of it in its entirety. This is necessary for growth; for self-love; for self-care; for self-compassion- and that’s wonderful and amazing and encouraged. It also means that we are still losing a part of ourselves, whether or not it’s for the good.
And so we can feel a sadness or a confusion or an anger or whatever else, because we are dealing with a death of a part of ourselves.
We are dealing with loss.
Anytime there is a loss or a change- be it, perhaps, a positive change- there is still some rearranging to do inside ourselves. And with that rearranging can come so many emotions.
I feel like the whole world is changing right now- both together as a unit and also as many individuals- and it is happening so rapidly. And because we are all feeling these emotions of change and then grief or confusion or anger, or etc. at the same time, it is making it even more difficult for some of us to separate “what is MY emotion” versus, “what is John Smith’s or Jane Doe’s emotion”.
All of our threads are so inter-connected, like there’s just one big web we’ve spun suddenly, and we’re all walking on each other’s threads and feeling and feeling and feeling, and people who were never Empaths before- or could never recognise that they were- are Empaths now because the feeling is just too strong and breaks through the barriers, no matter who you are.
People who are Empaths have a particularly “different” time with this process, as they are feeling the emotions from their own change, as well as the emotions from other people’s processes. It is possible to protect against this by grounding yourself (see video for more information), meditating, asking the Universe or Source or whatever you believe in- or your own Intuition or Higher Self- if this is really your emotion or if it’s someone else’s, and, lastly, really being familiar with what YOU feel like, i.e., what is your own personal energy?
(SIDE: For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term “Empath”, it is a psychic quality that allows for one person to be able to feel another person’s emotions and/or physicality. For example, John Smith is an empathy. He is in a terrible mood until he is standing in line next to Jane Doe when he suddenly starts feeling really cheery. When Jane gets up to the front of the line and begins joking around with the cashier and being really happy, he realises that the cheerfulness is hers. Another example would be that Jane Doe is an Empath, and her shoulder starts randomly hurting when she is standing next to John Smith. She later finds out that John fell off a ladder onto his shoulder and badly bruised it earlier this morning. Any emotion- whether on the spectrum of happiness or sadness- can be felt by an Empath, as can physical pain or health.)
So we’re all in this explosive web of change- combusting change. And as more and more people are waking up to themselves, more and more chain reactions are being stirred up. People are feeling “feelings” on a whole new level. It has been intense, to say the least. We have all been made to grow and change at a rapid rate. I feel, personally, almost as if I’ve been put into some sort of weird intensive course about myself and my relation to others. It is not something that I am unused to doing- growing, changing, facing my shadows- but it all feels so much larger, this time.
This torrent of change has brought on so much overwhelm and anger and confusion for many of us, but that has only led to the activation of our next and newest versions of ourselves.
So it is OKAY to feel SAD. It is OKAY to feel DEPRESSED. It is OKAY to feel ANXIOUS or SCARED or BEWILDERED or CONFUSED or ANGRY or FRUSTRATED or any of the other emotions that we try to force ourselves to push down because they are what help us to realise what is to come.
They are how we cope.
They are how we eventually push through- unless we get stuck in them.
And if we get stuck in them, that is when it can become self-destructive. I want to lay the line down- the important line:
Yes, it is okay to feel these emotions! You shouldn’t have to shut them out. You shouldn’t feel the need to feel happy all of the time, or even just as fast as you can, because these emotions are important to go through. They really help to mould us, and to mould that new progression of our inner paths, and the new and exciting experiences that are to come out of that change and that moulding.
So the line is that, yes, we should feel those things- those “negative” emotions- and we should grow to love them because, after all, we would not know happiness without sadness, or, at least, maybe we would not appreciate it as much. But at the same time, it is IMPORTANT not to DWELL in them.
There is a difference between FEELING sad, or FEELING angry, and DWELLING in those things. If you FEEL it, you go through the steps:
You know you’re going to come out of it. You know that, “yes I am going to feel this now”, but that you will emerge on the other side and you will take care of yourself during the process of feeling these stickier emotions. Going through these emotions, it’s not hard. It’s just different. It’s not tough- it’s necessary.
As soon as we label these experiences with words like “hard” or “tough”, we’re setting ourselves up to make it that way, and we’re pushing ourselves into more of a hole of overwhelm. And in that hole- well, holes can be “dwellings”. When you dwell in your emotions- when you dwell in self-pity- that’s when it gets harmful.
So how do you know which one you’re doing? Are you acknowledging and coaching your own emotions, or are you dwelling in self-pity? If you’re constantly finding reminders or reasons as to why you should be feeling these “different” emotions and you’re looking for those reasons, then you’re dwelling. You’re not letting yourself escape from the emotions. You’re forcing yourself to feel them, even if you’re being is done feeling them and they have already played their principal role.
However, if something comes up out of the blue and tends to remind you of what you were feeling by chance- perhaps it’s even as close together every couple of minutes, or as far as every couple of years- then you aren’t forcing yourself to feel it and you are still working through whatever growth process that emotion has in store for you. If it’s naturally coming up and you’re simply allowing these emotions to come through you, then you’re not dwelling in it. You’re merely “emotion coaching” yourself- allowing yourself to feel these emotions as they come up with provided self-compassion- you are not dwelling in self-pity or in the emotion itself.
So why is this the theme of a Winter Solstice article? It is also the darkest time of the year, and with all of these compounding hurricanes of emotions, we also have nature’s darkest hours amidst us. Bare branches swaying in the 5 o’clock sunset to cradle us in their arms in the dusk.
Our personal shadows have coincided nicely with those of the Earth, thus making it that much more intense, but also giving us that much more room to knead into the process. Something I read, lately, in an article written by Allie Theiss, is that “Gentle exposure to sunlight stimulates the flow of your own energy. Some lower vibrations cannot exist with exposure to bright light.” The light of the sun is cleansing for us, and can help us to release emotions in a different way as it energises our bodies. We are lacking in that gift as the days have grown shorter and shorter, and the sun appears and disappears in such a short time span, if even at all with a thanks to cloudy skies. But after tomorrow, things are looking up.
The days will once again grow longer- slowly but surely- and little by little we will have that much more sunshine to let the old emotions- and other people’s emotions- filter through us in a much more fluid way.
Until then, let’s revel in our darknesses. Let’s revel in our mysteries and our emotions and our growths and our confusions. Let’s revel in the candle we hold to ourselves to light the way.
Happy holidays and much love,
xx RLG ❤