One of the things that makes this world so great is diversity. All different kinds of people have different ways to navigate life. What I have come to understand is how much my energy can affect the people around me and vice versa.

Take for example a person who has grown up and hasn’t received a lot of love. She has kind of had to build herself up from the ground up. My example will be Crystal on Ari’s season of the Bachelor. Who I want to contrast against her is Tia, a southern bell with loads of official authority on how people should be. Tia believes Crystal to be fake, while Crystal believes Tia to be mean and non sympathetic. Meanwhile they are both trying to win the affection of one man. A recipe for disaster and non-understanding right of the bat. But somehow the other girls all have a baseline of understanding with each other. Tia has understanding with many people while she can’t seem to find common ground with Crystal. Why is that? Is it because Tia doesn’t have the patience for Crystal’s need for understanding? Is it because Crystal hasn’t dealt with her emotions enough to the standards that Tia lives by and has for the people around her? How could these two get to a common ground where there is understanding and respect for one another?

It’s like two sisters growing up. One is feeling really high and good and the other low and down. The sister who is feeling good begins to slightly boast about feeling good, while the other sister is becoming more and more annoyed.

One night as I was trying to fall asleep I was ruminating on some negative experiences I had while I was in China the past summer. One of my roommates and I hadn’t really gotten along. She was a young 21 year old, skinny and toned and went to college in New York. We had just moved from our monastery to temporary housing and she made a comment about how she didn’t approve of something I had said earlier and I had brushed it off because she didn’t direct it right at me. Then later in the day she was referencing to me when she was talking about ‘cool girls who thought they were cool just because they smoked weed.’ It made me really upset. Most of the time, the truth of it, is that I’m too scared to talk to people, let alone connect in a genuine way because I always seem to connect with people that end up stomping on my heart and eating it for dinner. But what causes this mass divide in understanding one another?

During this time it helped to remember Margaret, my therapist, and her mantras. Even though I depended on what other people thought of me I was learning to depend on what I thought of myself. The first step in understanding another person is being able to understand yourself.

I had started listing off practical starting points to remind myself of in order to help me  through my rumination. For example, even though some people don’t understand me I was learning to understand myself. I was scared in that particular situation. I may have behaved or reacted in a less than ideal way but that didn’t have to mean that I was bad or less than ideal. I felt a lot of guilt, and I had a challenging time beginning to forgive myself. I, like many others, can be very hard on myself.

I needed to remember that even though I felt inadequate I totally loved and accepted myself. This, no matter how disconnected it can seem is the first step in being able to have successful relationships. Healthy relationships are built by first loving and accepting yourself. Otherwise you will always be striving to find the love and attention that YOU NEED for yourself from someone else. Consciously acknowledge that, no matter how sad it is, no one else can realistically fulfill this need. Especially not when they have their own needs and battles that they are facing. This is what I learned in my story from Lauren and Melanie.

This is what Tia and Crystal’s relationship was lacking. Crystal had a need to be accepted and loved. Tia didn’t have the resources to give her that. She had enough for a intermittent hiccup here or there from one of the other girls on the show. But what Crystal needed was a constant acceptance and no one could give her that besides herself.

A greater understanding of themselves, therefore lending to, over time, a greater understanding of each other can be learned by both of them simbly being themselves with their own unique limitations. That, my friends is what this world needs and it starts  with simply a long hard look in the mirror. It’s so easy to be mad at another person and hold onto believing that you were right. It’s a lot more challenging and upheaving to see what is causing you to act the way you do and forgive yourself for ways in which you strayed from your ‘true self’. But it IS worth it. It’s our work and we must do it. Tia may learn over time that she may have some unresolved resentment towards someone who got more attention than her once upon a time.Crystal may learn to continue to love and appreciate herself. By putting ourselves through these hard situations we are able to learn and grow as people.

On Columbus day weekend I was driving home. I was on a stretch of highway between my house and a neighboring town. The shooting in Vegas had just happened and I had been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love on social media. But as I was absentmindedly driving home all I could seem to notice was rage behind the driver’s wheel. Everyone was tailgating each other closely and I was doing the same to the car in front of me. I was thinking about how angry all the drivers around me seemed while not looking at myself and realizing I was angry. I immediately slowed down and got into the right lane. I tried to not let the anxiety of everyone else rub off on me. I didn’t have to get home at a certain time, sure it would have been nice to get home earlier, but there wasn’t anything pressing. I instantly became a positive example for everyone else. Everyone had had a long full moon week and it was palpable. I didn’t need to contribute to the madness, and I felt instantly relieved by my decision, and at peace. Sometimes all it takes is a small observation of what’s really going on inside you to affect change in other people and therefore the world.

In my opinion, the feeling of emotions moving and shifting in the body is one of the best experiences of life. I request that you experience them for everything that they are. Start asking yourself what your inner being thinks about the situation to try and see if you can come to any realizations. Make yourself feel a little better about life.

Realizing repressed emotions is real and so raw. Many times I wouldn’t even know the depths or severity I had of a certain emotion until I worked on it.

These days, most of the time, I notice feelings in myself but can notice them from a distance. There is a clear distinction between being the feeling and being aware of the feeling from a distance.

When I am trying to feel an emotion it comes up on the left side of my body, usually, around my heart space. I try to acknowledge the feeling, but sometimes it’s not enough. Have you ever heard the saying “you have to feel it to heal it”?

One time I tried envisioning my emotion as a plant. Don’t ask me how I came to this decision. I felt where it was rooted and if I felt like there was more to the plant then I noticed that the plant was, indeed, bigger. I started noticing that it actually extended to, what I visualized as, ‘the lane,’ down. Sometimes I wanted to believe that is was big as I wanted to believe it was. I had to ask myself if it was really true or not. It was a delusion I created in my own mind to keep me safe. The plant was ALWAYS bigger than I wanted it to be.

For example, that day I had been feeling a lot of shame and I was working towards releasing some of it. But I realized that I needed to feel ALL OF IT before I could release anything. I noticed that I felt ashamed of even feeling the magnitude of the shame.

I knew instinctively that if I wanted this to work I needed to visualize the plant exactly as it was and accept that it was there. I started visualizing my shame plant. It started near my heart, it was different than other plants I had intuitively visualized because it seemed to have one long root but was also moss like. I noticed that it wasn’t only one patch but if I leaned into my shame that it grew into another patch and then another until it was almost covering a whole ‘field’. It felt overwhelming, but I tried my hardest to admit that it really was there even after all of the self-work that I believed I had done. This was helpful because I truly was able to feel all of it without resistance. It was just a plant and I couldn’t help but admit how big the plant was.

When I was hurting the most  I needed to find compassion for myself. I needed to know that if no one else in the world knew the level of pain I was feeling, I at least could. I was then able to show myself compassion. Rub my chest a little bit and say I know Nicole, I know.

With that came the responsibility to not shame myself as much anymore. To respect myself in more and more ways. To know that even with this hurt that I carried in my heart I was still making it through the day. I was still smiling at strangers and still tried to be steady force my fiancé could rely on. I still got out of bed. And when I became better I was determined each and every day to navigate the waters of my brain and to remain aware of what was happening inside of it.

I know that I went through those challenges for a reason because I stand before you strong and self-aware and out of the loop of negativity that so strongly was attached to my being. I know that the worst is behind me because my angels tell me it is so. I know that I will be okay no matter what because my heart still beats despite the pain and anguish it has felt and that I have forced myself to feel. I want to know that I am serving my mission. That I am trying to put my lessons out there for others. It takes compartmentalization and awareness and I guess it takes courage.


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