It’s Okay to Feel

We’re taught that certain emotions are “bad” or wrong. We aren’t supposed to feel them. We’re supposed to suppress them and act like they don’t exist.

The top among these is anger. Especially if you’re a girl, or raised/socialized as one, you’re told to be quiet and “ladylike” and sweet. If you show anger, you’re bad.

This can be common in the spiritual practice world as well. If you’re truly spiritual, so the story goes, you don’t feel anger. You just accept and forgive everyone and everything and feel nothing negative at all ever, because if you do, you aren’t really spiritual.

Bullshit.

Anger, jealousy, fear…all the emotions that some people designate as “bad” are HUMAN emotions. If you’re a human being, odds are good that you feel emotions. Feeling anger is no more “bad” than feeling joy. Emotions are not good or bad; they just are. And trying to force yourself not to feel them often results in just stuffing the emotion down into a little box in your mind—a box that might burst somewhere down the line.

The key isn’t to stop *feeling* emotions. It’s to learn healthy and productive ways to *express* them.

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I was raised in a home where it was not safe for me to be angry. If I expressed anger, I was punished for it, sometimes in psychologically damaging ways. I was told I was a bad person for feeling angry. That “good little girls” don’t feel that way.

In my first marriage, expressing anger was even more dangerous to me, so I learned not to express it to my husband. Unfortunately, that meant sometimes it spilled out onto my children. But more often, I just stuffed it down into that little mental box and convinced myself I’d dealt with it and didn’t feel it anymore.

When I was finally in a place where it was safe for me to express anger, I had no clue how to do so. I had no tools for managing my emotions—any emotions, regardless of what they were—because I’d spent so much of my life trying not to allow myself to feel them. So when something small sparked anger in me, the anger became huge and harmful, with lots of ranting and swearing and punching of mattresses and pillows, because I didn’t know how else to handle an emotion I was terrified to feel.

Note that I am not making excuses. I handled my anger very poorly a number of times, and at times that caused emotional harm to others. I am working to repair relationships that were damaged because of this.

Despite the reasons, ultimately we are each responsible for our own emotions and how we display them, and although I didn’t have the knowledge, skills, or tools to display my anger in less harmful ways, I still take responsibility for how I did display it and the consequences thereof. Part of my healing journey has been repairing those relationships, making amends where possible, and owning my stuff. Part has been accepting myself as a good *person* despite the things I said that I can’t take back, because while I *own* my emotions and my actions, I am not the things I feel and do. Emotions are neither good nor bad; actions can be, but taking a negative action does not automatically make someone a bad person.

It took a lot of work and therapy, but I did learn. I still sometimes get angrier than a situation warrants, but I am now able to recognize when I’m angry beyond what makes sense. I’m able to walk away from a situation that’s causing anger, and sometimes even to say to whomever else is involved, “I’m feeling very angry right now and need to step away.” I go someplace where I can be alone to work through what I’m feeling, and when I feel calm enough, I return to the other person and say, “I’m feeling angry about that thing you did, because it hurt me in this way. I’d like to stop feeling angry with you, so I’d like to talk about this and see what we can do.” It works a lot better.

Feeling emotions is NORMAL. Even emotions we’ve been taught are wrong or bad. Trying to suppress or ignore those emotions can be harmful to us and can lead to them coming up in less manageable ways down the road.

We also dishonor ourselves when we deny our emotions. Many of us who have experienced abuse and trauma have a child self living within our minds, a part of ourselves that became frozen at a time of trauma. In DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy, a technique often used in treating borderline personality disorder and PTSD among other things), that part of us is referred to as the “emotional mind.” In some forms of Witchcraft, it’s Younger Self. Whatever you call it, it’s a part of us, and it’s part of our healing journey to accept, nurture, and work with it. If we’re telling ourselves, “I can’t feel angry, it’s bad, I’m a bad person for feeling this way,” we’re continuing the abuse that damaged us in the first place. We’re taking the words and concepts forced on us by others and internalizing them, and that continues the damage.

Instead, I’ve found it’s far more productive to feel the emotion. To say, “I feel really angry, and that’s okay; how can I deal with this?” Even to express fear of feeling the anger, if that’s present for you. Some coping strategies for anxiety and PTSD can be used for anger as well.

Allowing yourself to feel those emotions and express them in *healthy* ways can help lessen them, and honors you as the awesome human you are.

You aren’t bad if you feel anger. You aren’t “not truly spiritual.” You are human, and you have the right to feel however you feel. You don’t have the right to express those feelings in harmful ways, but you one hundred percent have the right to feel them, and to express them in nonharmful ways. (And if you do express anger or another emotion in a way that’s harmful, that still doesn’t make you a bad person. It still just makes you human. Make apologies, make amends, and get help with learning more effective management strategies if it’s an ongoing problem… but accept yourself as a good *person* who just needs help to learn better *actions*.)

As a final note, if you’re a parent, please teach your children that emotions are always okay to feel, and teach them healthy, productive ways to express them. Show them that they, too, are good people, and that you love them no matter what emotions they feel. Show them how to love and accept themselves even when the anger seems big and scary, or the jealousy overwhelms them, or the fear seems to cover everything else. Let’s break the cycle of people who believe and preach that it’s bad and wrong to feel human emotions—and the people who, because of those beliefs and preaching, believe that *they* are bad and wrong.

Healing Is a Process

In the past, I’ve done Chios Energy Healing sessions with people who, at the end of the session, have said, “I don’t feel any different. I don’t think this works.” And then they’ve walked away, and I’ve never seen or heard from them again.

Based on the results (or lack of) from 30-60 minutes of energy work, these people have decided Chios doesn’t work and they don’t want or need another session.

Healing, like most things that lead to growth, change, and wellness, is not a one-and-done thing. You wouldn’t go to a gym, do a 60-minute workout, and expect to walk out 30 pounds lighter and muscled, would you? Or take a prescribed medication once and expect it to cure whatever you’re taking it for? Would you see a mental health professional to address trauma from your past, and expect one appointment to make all the crap go away so you can instantly handle your life better and shake the aftereffects of the trauma?

Probably not, right? We accept that we see a doctor more than once in our lives, and if that doctor prescribes medication, we accept that we’ll have to take it more than once. We know exercise takes time to show results. We know mental health treatment is ongoing.

So why expect a single energy healing session to be able to address all the energetic damage that’s been caused in your life? To bring to light all the things holding you back? To bring immediate, lasting change?

Energy healing, like other forms of healing, takes time and repetition to show true results. I generally recommend clients who are just beginning this type of work have at least one session a month. Those who have been working on their healing on an ongoing basis for a while will benefit from sessions at least 3-4 times a year, though I believe more often is still preferable. It’s important to remember that in addition to more than one session being necessary to address issues, the energy system experiences wear and tear through daily life, just as our physical bodies do, and so “maintenance” is needed.

For the past year or so, I’ve been offering Chios sessions on an one-by-one basis. I’ve realized that doesn’t serve my clients well, especially when I’m a firm believer in the need for repeated, ongoing energy work. So I’ve put together a program, currently called the Best Life Jumpstart. (The name may change. I’m not great at naming things.)
The Best Life Jumpstart is a 12-week program that includes 6 biweekly Chios sessions along with 12 mindset coaching sessions, six included in the Chios sessions and six occurring on the non-Chios weeks. The intention is to guide my clients to identifying the thoughts and patterns holding them back, along with the roots of those patterns, and help them find ways to change, release, or reset the way they look at themselves and approach their healing journey. People who enroll in the program will have email access to me between sessions, and there will be a Facebook group where clients can interact with each other for additional support.

I plan to launch the first round of the program February 24, and I’ll be opening enrollment for it on January 27. This first round will be sort of a beta test, to help me improve my skills and make sure the program is the best benefit for my clients, and so will be offered at a much lower investment than future rounds.

I’ll be sharing more information about it over the next couple of weeks, but if this sounds like something you’d like to learn more about or be part of, just reach out to me at kim @ riverflowhealing.com (no spaces) and we’ll talk!

Welcome to 2020

2019 felt like a long year. I’ve talked with a number of people who have said they felt like 2019 put them through the wringer. A lot of pain, a lot of struggle. That was true for me as well.

In 2019, I started off excited about my business, then called River Flow Healing…and then things started going downhill both business-wise and, more importantly, in my personal life. The personal life struggles impacted my ability to be effective as a healing practitioner and coach, and at times impacted my ability to do much of anything at all. Those difficulties led to my choice a couple of months ago to go on hiatus and focus on myself and my own healing journey for a while. But now it’s 2020, and it’s time to start fresh.

My journey isn’t over, of course. Life itself is a journey; there isn’t any point where someone can say, “There, I’ve made it, I’m healed and everything’s perfect now.” Life isn’t intended to be something to master. It’s something to experience, and to learn and grow from.

I’ve learned a lot about myself over the past couple of months, though. Things that lurked in the dark places in the back of my mind that I hadn’t really wanted to deal with because we’re taught that “dark” equals “bad,” and that we have to either eliminate the bad things or pretend they don’t exist.

The thing is, dark isn’t automatically bad. It’s just dark. Just as we have to have both night and day, we have to have a balance of darkness and light in our lives and ourselves. The key is to learn to accept the darkness within us and work with it to change the negative results of it being there. 

When a toddler misbehaves, we don’t try to eliminate the toddler; we accept them, love them, and try to teach them more productive and positive ways to act. It’s the same with the dark aspects of ourselves. The goal doesn’t need to be eliminating them. It’s much healthier for us, and more effective in our healing, to accept and acknowledge–and LOVE–those aspects of ourselves, and learn more positive ways of managing them.

As a child, I experienced neglect, emotional and verbal abuse, and bullying. Those things were a constant in my life, day to day, even into adulthood. Because of that, the “dark” aspects of myself manifest, in my mind, as young children. It isn’t my job to get rid of them, but to give them the love, attention, and respect I didn’t receive. That means when one of my child aspects starts throwing a tantrum about how everyone hates her and that’s why I don’t have clients for RiverEvolutions, instead of ignoring her or telling her to shut up, I’m learning to embrace her and say, “I know it feels that way, and it’s okay to feel that way right now, but that isn’t reality. Let’s take a break and come back to this later.”

Taking a break is another key. When emotions escalate, sometimes we feel like we have to “push through” and get the thing done no matter what. But forcing ourselves to keep pushing at something that is causing us pain doesn’t serve us. It is okay to take a few steps back. It’s okay to leave a task temporarily unfinished so you can take care of yourself and let yourself feel your emotions. And when you’ve allowed that, you can go back and finish the task.

There’s a lot I’ve been learning over the past couple of months, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you as I continue my work on myself as well as my work as a healing practitioner and coach.

Darkness Equals Rest

In the pagan Wheel of the Year (or at least the one with which I’m familiar), we’ve just passed Samhain, the end of the old year and beginning of the new. But we’ve also entered a time of year when, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, daylight is short and harder to come by, and it’s only going to grow shorter until Yule, a/k/a the Winter Solstice.

This is a hard time of year for me every year. The lessening of daylight impacts my mental health, and the holidays I grew up celebrating at this time of year (primarily Thanksgiving and Christmas) were sources of trauma and pain for me. Things will start getting better for me after the Solstice and Christmas have passed, though the cold New England winter that will prevent me from being outside as much as I would like will continue to have an impact.

These are things of which I’m always aware, and I do know how to manage myself and keep myself as focused and positive as possible through this time. But in the past years, I’ve also often put self-care behind trying to push through doing things. Running RiverEvolutions, working other jobs, keeping my house (mostly) clean, doing things that other people ask me to do…

This is the time of year when, thanks to having to interact more with blood-and-marriage family, I’ve most often heard that yet another year had gone by without my doing anything that mattered or anything that anyone could be proud of. And so even though most of those people are no longer in my life, and I know I’ve accomplished things people told me I couldn’t, and have accomplishments I can be proud of, it’s the time of year when I get the hardest on myself for not doing “enough,” whatever “enough” is. And so I push too hard, and try to do too much, and don’t honor my own needs.

This year, I’m trying to be different about that. I mean, seriously, who am I trying to impress by pushing through the darkness to do things that sometimes I’m not even sure have a purpose? It’s a time of year when some forms of life enter hibernation, and some just settle in to keep warm until spring, and I think I–at least the business “I”–am going to follow their lead.

I’m not shutting down RiverEvolutions. I believe strongly in this business. I believe people need balance, relaxation, and clarity, and I have seen through working with clients that I can help them achieve those things. I know where I was fourteen years ago before I learned Chios Energy Healing, and I know how far I’ve come–even when voices from the past pop into my brain to tell me I haven’t come any distance at all. They’re wrong.

But I do believe there are times to work and push, and there are times to rest and recharge. There are times to plant seeds, and to harvest them, and to cover the garden with warmth and let the snow fall.

I’m still open to clients on a very limited basis for both Chios Energy Healing and channeling; very limited meaning a maximum of 2 clients per week. I’m still working with my students, and I’m really pleased to watch their progress, and honored they chose me to work with. I’m still poking at tentative plans and ideas for RiverEvolutions for the future.

For the next couple of months, though, I’m turning inward. Looking at my own healing, and seeing where the weak spots are. Relearning what I learned from my mentor 14 years ago that put me on this path in the first place. Relearning what I learned 3 years ago when I was charged with creating this practice and guiding people on their journeys.

Relearning the “me” that exists under the years of sludge and other people’s voices. Because I will be far more effective guiding others to learning who they are when I’m doing a more effective job of remembering who I am, and taking care of myself.

Honoring a Need

Today is the third day I sat down to try to write this blog post. And it’s the third day that I looked at my planned topic and my brain said, “Nope, not doing it. Too tired.”

It wasn’t a hugely involved topic. It was more that I wasn’t as clear as I would have liked on what I wanted to say about it, and trying to put words together was resulting in a lot of mental twisting and turning. I’ve also been fighting off a cold (thanks to working in two elementary schools a couple days a week) and, as often happens at a season change, haven’t been sleeping well, so my creativity is not at its peak.

So instead of sitting here forcing the post I’d intended to write, which would have resulted in some half-assing and inaccurate phrasing, and probably in the energetic vibration of “I don’t wanna do this” coming through, at least to those who are sensitive to energy, I chose to write a post about how I’m not writing the post I’d planned. Because I think sometimes we all need the reminder that it’s okay to give our brains a break. It’s okay to say, “I can’t think about this right now,” or “I can’t complete this project this week,” or whatever.

Obviously if it affects your job or interferes with someone else’s needs, you might need to think about it more and maybe do some negotiation or compromise. But the world isn’t going to end because I wrote this blog post instead of the one I’d planned. It won’t end if my post is under 400 words instead of close to 1000.

It won’t end if I take the time to honor what I need.

Sometimes, I think that especially those of us who were brought up to believe we were responsible for everyone else forget that our needs matter too, and that the world doesn’t actually end if we say no to some things. So this is just a reminder for all of us.

And now I’m going to go honor my need for coffee. Because coffee.

Speak Up, Don’t Shut Up

My mother talks a lot. I mean, a lot. I’m not saying this to be mean; it’s a statement of fact. She will start talking and continue for an hour, repeating herself several times and not stopping even when someone leaves the room. As a child, I sometimes witnessed her talking to empty chairs if she didn’t think anyone else was home, not because she believed anyone was in the chair but because she needed to talk.

The problem was, she didn’t believe other people had any reason or right to talk. If someone was speaking and she had something to say, even something completely unrelated, she would talk right over them. If someone else started speaking and didn’t finish fast enough for her tastes, she would tell them they were finished and go on with whatever she wanted to say.

And heaven help anyone who interrupted her, even unintentionally or with something as innocuous as a deep breath.

Putting words together into a form I can speak that others will understand has always been a bit of a struggle for me. So you can imagine that my need to stop and think for more than half a second to form a sentence didn’t mesh well with my mother’s need to fill any silence–any at all–with her own words. Nor did my anger at being interrupted and disrespected mesh well with her belief that she had the right to interrupt anyone, but they had no similar right.

I learned early to shut up. Whether it was with my mother, or with people who bullied me, or with other family members. If I didn’t like something, I learned, I had no right to say a word. If someone treated me badly, I was expected to just accept it. As an adult, in my marriage to my children’s father before it ended, I learned that not only did I not have the right to speak up if he said or did something hurtful or harmful, but speaking up was a dangerous thing to do. I learned not to speak for the sake of my own safety and, sometimes, my kids’.

That “put up and shut up” tendency still follows me, having become so deeply ingrained that sometimes I don’t even realize when I’m holding in something I need to express. If someone hurts me, I often keep it to myself. If I have an issue with someone or something, I don’t say a word.

Of course, that doesn’t solve anything, and often worsens a problem. If I’m feeling angry or upset about someone’s behavior and I hold it in, eventually the lid is going to blow off the pot of anger and resentment. Usually at a time when something that seems, even to me, quite small happens, so no one, including me, can figure out why I’m “overreacting.” It isn’t an overreaction; it’s a built-up reaction from weeks or months of not expressing those emotions when I needed to. And obviously that isn’t healthy or helpful.

I am better about it, thanks to a husband and a partner who both have a lot of patience and have worked to show me that it is safe for me to speak. Because they have listened when I needed to express anger, even if I didn’t do it in a particularly constructive way, I’ve learned how to express it more constructively. To ask for a moment of quiet so I can put words together. To say, calmly and respectfully, “I’m feeling this way and I need to tell you why,” instead of just going off.

Having had to hold in anger, and having been told that “good girls don’t get angry” and other such bullshit, since early childhood, learning to manage anger in a healthy way has been a difficult but vital part of my journey. And I think it’s one a lot of us struggle with when we’ve been in situations where we weren’t allowed to show anger or other negative emotions. If you’ve had to bury something, sometimes it gets away from you–and sometimes you just continue to bury it because you don’t know what else to do.
You have the right to speak up for yourself when someone has hurt or harmed you. When you feel angry. When someone’s behavior is disrespectful to you. You have the right to speak those things instead of swallowing them and pretending they don’t exist. Obviously you don’t have the right to cause hurt or harm to someone else, but you can speak your feelings without causing harm. And not speaking them may be harming you.

A Container? What’s That?

Recently, Britt Bolnick, a business coach I’ve worked with, shared information about creating a container for one’s clients. I read the transcript of the video, which she sent out to her mailing list, and thought, “I have no idea what that means.”

And then I thought about it, because “I don’t know” or I don’t understand” sometimes becomes a defense mechanism for me. Sometimes, it becomes an excuse for not putting in the work to figure it out. This sounded like something important, so I chose to put in the work.

Basically, Britt’s point is that the service one provides as a practitioner (coach, healer, etc.) is only part of what one gives the client. It’s awesome that I’m able to provide Chios Energy Healing and that my clients find it effective and beneficial, but that isn’t as useful if I’m doing it in a way that doesn’t leave my clients feeling comfortable and confident in the process.

I tend to get nervous before sessions. Not nearly as much as I used to, but still, those “what if I’m a fraud” fears do crop up occasionally. Because of that, sometimes I don’t have the space adequately prepared when my client shows up, or I’m overly focused on remembering paperwork and the questions I want to ask, so I don’t give the client a chance to speak or I plunge right into the businessy stuff without taking the time to be human first.

I’ve been doing some inner searching to try to find what I could do differently in my business. One of the biggest difficulties I have is that even when someone comes to have a Chios session with me, they usually don’t come back. And since they don’t come back, and don’t answer my emails, I can’t find out *why* they don’t come back. It isn’t necessarily, or always, entirely about me. Some people aren’t ready to do the work of healing. For some, I’m not a fit personality-wise, or Chios isn’t a fit as an effective modality.

But since I’m involved, I have responsibility somewhere, and one of the things I’ve realized is that setting a “container” is something I haven’t really been doing. Partly due to not understanding what that meant, but also, it just isn’t a thing I think of.

I grew up with parents who shut me down–or told me to shut up, though usually not quite that bluntly–if I didn’t immediately get to a point when I talked to them. They didn’t give me time to lay groundwork. As the only child of an only child, with two parents who rarely socialized with anyone, I didn’t have a chance to learn the small talk, give-and-take preambles to business work. I learned to just jump in and say what I needed to say, and do what I needed to do, and I’ve continued that pattern my entire life.

Recognizing that has been important, because I’ve realized I’m not serving my clients if all I’m doing is the service. If all I do is say, “Thanks for coming, I’m going to do this, this, and this, any questions, okay great lie down,” I’m not only not putting them at ease with the process, but I’m also not putting them at ease with *me*. I’m not giving them a means to connect with or a reason to trust me. More, I might actually be causing them to feel less comfortable than they would otherwise, because I’m coming across as rushed or abrupt.

I don’t know if that’s the reason some clients haven’t come back; as I said, I can’t ask them, because they don’t respond. But it is something I can control, and something I can work to change.

That’s where those of you reading this can help me. Just as I don’t think to set a container, I don’t always respond well when I’m having some kind of session and the practitioner spends what feels like forever doing small talk, or clearing the space, or whatever. I start feeling uncomfortable or impatient at those times. That’s also a result of how I was raised, but it means that as I try to change my process to better serve my clients, I don’t have a clear idea of what to do. I prefer the “get down to business” model as a client myself, so I’m not sure what to change or include as as practitioner.

So I would love to hear from you: If you’re having a healing session, coaching session, etc., what do you hope or expect in terms of how the practitioner greets you? What would you want to see (hear, smell, feel) in the space? What would set you at ease and give you confidence in the practitioner and the process? Feel free to comment here, or email me at kim @ riverflowhealing.com (no spaces). Thank you!