GREY

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Which do you want to start with: the good news and then the bad news? Or the other way around?

I mean, it’s got to be one or the other, right? There’s going to be an up, and there’s going to be a down. And if you have an up, you pay for it later. And if you’ve just been plain out of luck for too long, you’re due for some sunshine.

It’s interesting to me that this is even a question.

When did we decide that we have to sacrifice and give up our state of being to something else? Are we offering it to… fate? God? Other people?

The weather?

In fact, there are diagnoses for being affected by the skies, and while the issues are real, I’m not sure we have to simply lay down and accept that this is the way it has to be, and move to Phoenix or the Bahamas (though these are fine and dandy places to be, and are you already thinking about beaches and golf courses?).

In literature it’s called “pathetic fallacy”.

This is not a derogatory term. To be pathetic really means to “relate” to something else, literally, to connect with it. Pathetic fallacy and our being affected by the weather make all the sense in the world – because we are sensing beings.

Is the grey sky bringing out your greyness? (What else should a grey sky logically trigger?)

As you drive to work in the dark and drive home in the dark, does it make you feel… a little dark? Like maybe you should have stayed in bed? (Geez, was it supposed to light your fire?)

The REAL question is, are we fighting against each grey-dark day, or are we accepting the unique rhythm and experience it offers. The same is true for all of our daily experiences.

Like going to the dentist…

If you’ve worked with me, you know that one of my favourite questions is: “How can I use this to my advantage?” Careful what you ask for.

What’s the one thing that could make that dark, grey drive any worse? Yup. Heading out on a cold, rainy November day… to the dentist.

Now to be clear, I have an amazing dentist. In fact the whole staff there are absolutely awesome. And it was really no big deal. Or so I thought. Until it was.

This visit took an unexpected twist. Right then and there, I ended up having DENTAL SURGERY (a gingivectomy to be precise) (eeek!). Doesn’t that sound scary?? And right on the heels of Halloween, when the collective consciousness leans toward fright and fear.

Well, you can imagine where this is going. I felt the heart rate speed up, a bit of sweat coming to the palms, and in my particular version of fear it more closely resembles “freeze” than flight or fight. Lucky for my dentist!

(It’s interesting that we even call it FREEZE when we are being anesthetised…. Talk about implanting!)

As those old pangs of fear swelled to the surface, I was taken by the familiarity of the feeling. I’ve had this before. My body, all on its own, is well practiced. In fact, it is a habitual reaction stuck in the amygdala (the lizard brain).

But this awareness triggered something else: The Question (which is another habit my body has learned).

How could I use this to my advantage?

What if I could change that emotionally reactive habit right here and now? Or at least take one step toward changing it. (I’m a gradualist!)

So here is the BIG difference, the shift, the change – the empowerment we seek.

When we can SEE our habit, we don’t have to BE it.

(Read that sentence above once more, please……………..)

In other words, we become the observer of it. Not it. This is a grand transformation, and so simple.

I watched. I softened when I could feel myself hardening and tensing up. I breathed more deeply when I could feel myself holding my breath. All these actions took me away from fight-flight-freeze, toward rest-digest-be your best.

Now back to our regular program on the weather channel.

How do we use all that grey damp darkness to our advantage? Lets take our cue from nature. Can we actually tune INTO our darkness?

Is your “normal” way of dealing with “feeling grey” to push those feelings away because they don’t “feel good”? Whistle a happy tune, look the other way, jog past the bully on the playground.

Or do you tend to judge yourself for not being “positive”? (If you were only like those morning people!) Do you try and fool yourself into thinking that you have “no reason” to feel grey, and therefore you shouldn’t… or that you blame the weather for how you feel internally (yikes).

Is there a subtle (or strong) judgment or self-criticism that feeling grey is BAD or negative – and you’re supposed to be positive, and since you are feeling these grey feelings – then… YOU must be bad?

If you resist your dark side, is the old saying true: “what you resist, persists”? Does it actually make it worse?

Clearly, just being positive doesn’t get us where we need to be.

Side Note: all along have you been assuming that “dark” equals “bad”? Including YOUR dark side? What if we understand darkness, like pathetic, to be a sensitivity we possess. It’s a shade, a colour, a temperature, something that makes things interesting – makes the song, the painting or the story more meaningful? Could we stop giving the dark such a bad rap! It offers us the best sleep and makes movies more romantic, for goodness’ sake.

Can you look at your dark side?

Try this out next time. Just be present to it and tease it apart – just as I did when that old “fear” pattern of mine arose.  There is a heaviness in the chest; there is a solemnness to the mood; there is a desire to curl up and tuck back into bed.

What else are you noticing? Take the time. Pause. As you become the observer of it, the density of it diffuses. Can you perceive a little lighter feeling?

Can you make friends with the dark?

If you cannot change your state because you haven’t quite built that muscle yet, can you at least be gentle with yourself?
 
Just as the days get shorter, and the darkness longer, we can be present to it and not resist. If you push against it, you just practice that old habit of “fight” (and there may just be a little flight or freeze thrown in). 

Notice what is true for you. Be present to what is, and soften into it. As you soften your resistance, the state will change. And you’ll change. And you’ll start accepting more of the gifts that come to you in surprising shapes and colours.

And that’s worth more than precious silver.

– Betty Mae