Are You Drained, Burned Out and Running On Empty? It’s Time To Dissolve
Love-Yourself-More Monday Mindbody Wellness Tip #27
Dear Awesome Woman,
I still remember leaving the doctor’s office year’s ago, feeling my body slump. I had booked the appointment hoping for some answers to the aches and pains that I felt in my hips, in my legs, in my back. I had been suffering for too long—some days it was almost too hard to get out of bed. My body hurt.
I kept going to the chiropractor for adjustments that would give me relief for a few days; I kept going to the massage therapist, loving the relief of a mitigation of my aches and pains—but that only lasted for the short time of a week.
I was in my forties and felt young in my brain, but my body felt really terrible and ancient. I was hoping that the doctor would have some answers for me from the blood work they did—perhaps a quick fix in the way of vitamin supplements.
That was not to be. Thank G-d, everything looked fine enough, which on one hand I was truly grateful for. On the other hand, I was left with no answers as to why my body hurt.
After one of my sessions with the massage therapist, I asked her why she thought my body was hurting so much. She put her hand on my sternum and said gently, “There is nothing here. You are completely drained.”
Hearing those words was a huge wake up call. Something was wrong and it wasn’t just the aches and pains of my body. Having nothing in my being meant that I didn’t know who I was anymore. I had spent so much time giving and caretaking outside of me that my spirit was calling out for care. I wasn’t going to stop spending energy taking care of my family, working part time and doing community service, but it was time for me to get some answers from withinside my being.I needed to find out how to do those things differently so I could get some of my vitality back—so I could rediscover who I was.
Slowly overtime, I did heal. I read voraciously a ton of self-help books, did simple creativity, hired a life coach, and got really good at knowing my ‘no’s’ and my ‘yes’s.’ Overtime, I did multiple trainings myself and became a life coach and a master mindbody specialist (somatic healer).
I dissolved the drained me and discovered my wings to fly. The strange aches and pains disappeared and a happier, more vital me formed.
One of the most helpful things I discovered—something I use everyday—is my understanding of the mindbody connection—understanding how emotions are actual ‘energy in motion’ and need to flow and move. They carry wisdom for us in terms of setting healthy boundaries, recognizing our limits and knowing clearly when to say ‘yes’ and when to say ‘no’. Emotions, when processed in an integrative manner, help us move towards joy and health. They also help us tap into our inner wisdom, our ‘soul speak’ as I like to call it.
When we don’t listen to that wisdom, our bodies make it loud and clear that we are not in alignment with our soul—hence, aches and pains, dis-ease and drain.
Another very helpful thing at that time of my healing was learning about the four squares of the Change Cycle by sociologist and life coach Martha Beck. She uses a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly as a metaphor for life’s changes. Let’s take a look: if you imagine drawing a square and then dividing it up into four squares, the upper left corner being called square 1. Next to it is square 2 (the top right square) and underneath square 2 is square 3 and to the left of square 3 is square 4.
Square 1 is when, as Martha describes it, the caterpillar spins a cocoon and melts into bug soup. It totally loses its shape. For a human being, Square 1 is when an event has happened— a loss in some way—that propels us into losing our identity as we knew it to be. We become formless. It could be that we even chose the event—by moving, changing jobs, getting in or out of a relationship etc. or it could be that something happened that we had no control over. This is a time of grieving, disorientation and discovery. We have lost our identity. This is how I felt when I began to take a look at those aches and pains from an emotional perspective. What was so off in my life that I was drained? Why had I lost all my vitality?
In Square 1 there is a cycling through of many emotions—disappointment, anger, grief, denial, sadness and some moments of acceptance. For me, I had to feel all my feelings to discover a new identity for myself. I had to ask myself what patterns in my relationships were working and which ones were not, what caretaking habits were ok and which ones were hurting me, what was my internal dialogue like—was it kind or critical? This was a big Square 1 for me — a big dissolving. I was a big bug soup.
Square 1 requires you to relax into the process and not take much action—only the bare minimum at times. You need to do a lot of selfcare, a lot of resting, one day at a time. You’re dissolving and grieving some big beliefs about the world, about yourself, and even about others. Self-nurturance and self-kindness is key. And so is patience.
At a certain point, you start reimagining a different life for yourself. Martha calls this ‘dreaming and scheming’ and that is when you have slowly entered into Square 2. This is when the caterpillar’s cells have begun to re-form and are taking shape. You are too. There is more a sense of curiosity, of desire and the hope of possibilities with the future. You are embracing a new identity.
For me, I started to get a sense of vitality back. My aches and pains were slowly disappearing as I chose to bring more joy into my life. I collected pretty things for the shelves of my closet—feathers, colorful stones, crystals, shells, uplifting affirmations. I started to surround myself with beauty and whatever brought me light. I also began to collage a lot—not necessarily vision boards because I didn’t try to futurize anything— I just chose pictures and words that sparked a feeling of happiness in my being. Just like the cells of a caterpillar take shape into a butterfly, my cells started to shift, forming a new identity. I felt a sense of hope.
Square 3 is when the butterfly takes action to leave the cocoon. Martha writes that just like that butterfly, you will also be motivated in this square to take action. She advises taking small turtle steps forward as to not get overwhelmed. The emergence into the real world can be quite challenging. Small steps will aid your process and progress.
What’s interesting about Square 3 is that there are ‘setbacks.’ Some of the things that you newly believe will also get challenged and you’ll find yourself back in Square 1 for some dissolving. But it won’t necessarily be a full fledged dissolving that you had before. You’ll be dissolving limiting beliefs that showed up as you experimented bringing your new self into the real world.
For me, Square 3 looked like this: I took my rewiring that I had gained from working with a coach and from doing so many exercises of self-help books into the real world by entering into life coach trainings as well as mindbody trainings. I was taking my tools into the real world not just to affect myself, but to help affect others. To help teach other women how to care for themselves mind, body and soul so they could avoid (or recover) from similar mistakes that I had made in ignoring the mindbody-soul connection.
The body speaks louder than words when you don’t listen to the soul. When you find yourself in relationships that lack respect and boundaries, when you find yourself over-doing, when you find yourself working too hard to prove your worth to yourself or others, the soul does not like that and your body will let you know—in the way of migraines, thyroid issues, stomach issues, auto-immune issues etc. My body spoke to me in the way of aches and pains (and I also have suffered at times from chronic UTI’s, sciatica and migraines) and I desired to help others recognize their limiting beliefs, recognize their mindbody symptoms for what they were, recognize that they could make choices that were clear and healthy.
For you, square 3 may look like getting to know a new community if you’ve recently moved, getting to understand couple dynamics if you’ve recently gotten married, taking on the challenges of a new career or raising a child if you’ve become a mother. This square also requires you to rest and self-care as you integrate changes.
And Square 4 is when there is full flight for the butterfly who has squeezed itself out of the cocoon. Its wings have dropped the heavy liquid and its identity is more settled. There are no major changes happening in this part of your life and it is a time to enjoy for awhile until more change comes, which it always does.
Meanwhile, understanding the Change Cycles of your being and your metamorphosis is a blessing. It is helpful to have a sense of where you are at different times as well as different areas of your life. It is a blessing to allow for dissolving when necessary. And whether you’re dissolving an old identity or welcoming a new—patience, self-compassion, knowledge and intuition are the important factors to lead the way.
Love-Yourself-More today. Your body and soul will thank you.
Please feel free to forward this to friends. I believe that all women can benefit from understanding the wisdom of their body, their emotions and their soul.
Need a helping hand? I invite you to schedule your free Clarity Call today. As a Somatic Healer and Clarity Coach, I help women align with their physical, emotional and intuitive wisdom, empowering them with clarity and strength in their relationships, career and health. Download your free eguide: “3 Secrets to Solve Burnout and Get Energized the Mindbody Wellness Way” (which includes access to the free eguide, “Escape From the Borderline Narcissist’s Web”).