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Want to Heal? Be a Hot Mess.

Posted Dec 01 2011 6:00am

Grief BlanketRight now, I have a group of coaches taking my Mind-Body Coach Training . They’ve been thrown into what I call The Mess as they experience the first part of the training. This just means that they are learning how to feel emotions, what to do with body tension and pain, and discovering that their minds have the ability to create a lot of extraneous stress.

I’m impressed with them, because they are definitely mind-body troopers. They are sticking with the process, digging in to The Mess, and willingly learning about themselves so that they can guide future clients through The Mess with aplomb.

They’ve been practicing taking self-pressure off and actually letting their bodies lead the way. There have been many aha’s as they start to see where they’ve been judging themselves, beating themselves up, and pushing against what their bodies were telling them.

This is probably the most important survival technique for The Mess. The Mess is messy – there’s no doubt about it. If you’ve stored emotions in your body for any length of time, or if you’ve denied deep inner truths, the self-awareness process toward joy and health simply has to start with a big ol’ Mess. Most people go through The Mess as they begin the mind-body healing process, regardless of their goal. Whether they want pain relief, weight loss, more confidence, or simply a kinder relationship with themselves, it all starts with The Mess. (Interestingly, when I started investigating my bladder syndrome, interstitial cystitis, I found that it was commonly linked with a fear of letting go. When I finally allowed myself to let go and enter The Mess, normal bladder function returned.)

Then, as life goes on, most people experience versions of The Mess every time they start to make a new shift, personal growth curve, or delve into another inner-truth awakening. It’s like a spiral – every time you go through The Mess, you come out on a new level, but you continue to spiral around, up and through another Mess every time you’re ready for a new you to be born.

Here’s the good news: it gets easier. Once you know about The Mess, you can approach it with self-kindness. The Mess is not the time to force yourself or push yourself or achieve any major award-winning accomplishments. It’s a time to cocoon, to go inward, and to create a safe space in your home where you can actually let yourself be a mess.

I’m writing this post because I got an email from one of the trainees. She was describing how she feels terribly vulnerable, cries a lot, and is beating herself up about it. She doesn’t want anyone else to know just how messy her Mess is. She is afraid she is alone, afraid of what others will think, and not sure what to do. I get emails like this from clients who are going through The Mess, too.

Everyone thinks that they are alone and lost when they enter The Mess. They think they’re the only one who can’t get out of bed some mornings, weeps on a moment’s notice, and has no confidence anymore. Everyone thinks they’ll never make it through the emotions, the confusion, and the sense of not knowing who they are right now.

Yet – everyone DOES make it through. They become more aligned with inner truth. They create health in their bodies. They learn how to feel so that they no longer stuff emotions in their bodies. They come alive with new confidence and sense of purpose. It’s always a beautiful transformation.

The key to The Mess is being kind. Allowing yourself to be a mess. Allowing yourself to be in this place where things feel unstable, new, uncertain, and different. Heck, there’s even slang for it these days. Check out this quote from the Urban Dictionary:

Hot Mess: When one’s thoughts or appearance are in a state of disarray but they maintain an undeniable attractiveness or beauty.

There is, indeed, a surprising beauty to accepting The Mess, because it makes you authentic. A coach friend of mine was laughing about The Mess the other day. She said, “Yeah, you have to be willing to feel, or the universe will give you a smack-down. You have to go through The Mess, where it feels like your ass is being handed to you on a regular basis.”

That pretty much sums it up.

I went through my own Mess this year, too, so trust me, I get it. I just have the advantage of knowing now, that if I surrender to the Mess, I’ll move through it more quickly. I resist it much less, and I use my mind-body tools to help me through it. I practice self-kindness.

Speaking of tools, here’s one of my secrets you might find useful for The Mess. I call it the Grief Blanket. Often, The Mess involves bringing up old grief, or even new grief. There is usually a lot of crying and a deep need to hide in a cave. I say, embrace that. It’s a great way to take care of yourself.

Here’s how

Get a blanket that feels especially soothing and comforting. Make sure it’s large. Wrap your whole body in the blanket, and then curl up in a fetal position on a bed or the floor. (You might want some Kleenex, too.) Put the blanket over your head so that you’re now fully cocooned. Cry. Moan. Say what’s on your mind. (You might prefer to do this exercise in privacy, though I have had clients do it while on the phone with me. If someone is there, make sure they are a trusted loved one around whom you feel incredibly safe.) Give yourself this time to retreat into your cocoon and remind yourself that in there, in this moment, you are safe. Allow yourself to be a mess inside your cocoon. Let it all out. Just be. Stay in there until you truly feel ready to emerge. Return the next time you need to feel safe and let yourself be a mess.

This practice has magical qualities. There is something relaxing about letting yourself retreat, no longer trying to “hold it together” or “be okay.” Creating safety and a place to melt down allows you to move through The Mess and truly align with yourself again. It allows your body and soul to feel loved. It lets your mind know that everything is okay, even when it’s messy.

My grief blanket got a workout this year. It got me through the roughest days after my miscarriage. It helped me stay sane and available to those around me, because I was able to retreat and then return, repeatedly. I was able to get normal stuff done because I took the time to go be a giant mess under my Grief Blanket.

So – the next time you think you’re alone, are sure no-one else has ever been such a mess, imagine me huddled under my blanket, weeping and melting down. Know that you’re in good company. We all experience The Mess and we are all Hot Messes, at some point. Know that you’re not alone, and that if you can just allow yourself to be the mess you are right now, you’re actually doing really well. You’re being kind. You’re allowing yourself to grieve and feel. You’re healing.

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