Wednesday Missive: What Do We Do with Dread? A Self-Care Emotional Exploration (+ Membership is OPEN for the Beautiful Life Collective!)

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Hi Darlings,

Podcast Alert! This morning, I recorded a podcast on dysfunctional relationship patterns and how they relate to the larger political/social upset that’s happening in the world right now. I’ve been wanting to share on this topic for a while, but didn’t because I knew I would say it all imperfectly. And yet, here it is--warts and all--and I hope you enjoy! Also, listen soon because there’s a time-sensitive offer at the end!

And now, today…

This morning, I woke up today with a subtle feeling of dread. The dread felt heavy in my body and made getting out of bed more difficult. The dread also felt heavy in my mind. I’m normally pretty enthusiastic in the mornings (which can get annoying to the non-morning people in my life - Hi Micah!), but today I didn’t feel excited or motivated about the day ahead.

Over the past few years, as I’ve reduced my numbing behavior, I’ve gotten more curious about my emotions. Rather than deny them, especially the challenging ones, I try to feel all my feelings and understand what they’re trying to tell me. I trust them to be intelligent and to teach me more about myself.

I’ve learned that anger, when experienced consciously, connects me to my righteousness and need for boundaries. Grief opens up my heart to the pain of life, and right along with it, the transformative power of love and compassion. Guilt is a motivating dose of “get going!” energy that enables me to make a necessary change in my behavior.

But dread? When it showed up this morning, I realized that I didn’t understand what it was trying to tell me. And what better place to explore its message than with you incredible people!

From my emotional ponderings today, here is what I’ve gleaned:

  1. Dread shows up for me when I have to put myself out there in some way. For example, this week, along with my dear co-leaders Reba, Lindsey, and Elsa, I’m opening up the Beautiful Life Collective for new members. Although I believe so deeply in what the Collective offers the amazing women in our community and how their awesome self-care translates out as healing in our world, sharing our work publicly still feels like I am opening myself up to get hurt.

  2. I think I experience dread whenever I feel like I’m getting too big in my life. I never feel dread when I’m just going along with the status quo. Dread taps on my shoulder when I’m endeavoring to take up more space, say what I want more loudly, or just generally move my life to the next level. Sometimes this dread happens during genuinely exciting times (like expanding this brilliant self-care community!) and sometimes it happens during quiet, more necessary moments (like having a really hard conversation where I have to set some major boundaries and disappoint other people). This makes sense because despite their energetic difference, both of these moments mean I will be growing in new ways.

  3. Considering this, I think dread is a heavy form of fear, meant to slow me down and thus, protect me. In the past, it wasn’t safe for women to put themselves out in the world for their healing powers. In many parts of the world, including in the United States where I live, I still don’t think it’s safe for all women to fully take up space as themselves. Although many of us are working very hard to change it, we still live in a deeply patriarchal world. Our nervous system impulses are going to buzz when we enter the danger zone of going too far in our independence. Because, above all else, our nervous systems wants us to stay safe.

  4. Practicing self-care means I get to decide the best course of action based on the intelligence of my emotions. My self-care practices help me slow down my fear-based thinking and get a wider perspective on what’s actually happening in my life. This morning, I asked myself these questions: Will I really get hurt by putting myself out in the world by doing this promotion? (Probably not, but I might feel a little rejected if someone isn’t interested.) If I do feel the sting of rejection--which is completely built into living an awake life--do I have ways to care for myself? (Yes, absolutely.) And finally: Does enduring the discomfort of personal growth serve the larger values I have in this world? (100% yes! If I want our society to move with its growing pains and keep evolving, I must stay committed to my own personal practice of enduring discomfort so I can grow).

  5. Once I’ve learned more about dread for myself, I am more able to guide others when their feelings of dread are keeping them feeling small and bound into themselves.

This last point is what inspires me most. As I’ve peeled back the many layers of what it means to practice self-care, I always return to the concept of service. I so deeply believe that the reason we are here on earth is to be of service to each other.

I honestly don’t believe we are here to be of service so that we can prove we are good people by how selflessly we can take care of others. That line of altruism always ends up getting super dysfunctional and often hurts the people we are trying to help. Whenever we try to prove something about ourselves through a relationship, it never seems to end well.

Rather, I think service helps us to understand our inherent value as human beings. In order to truly be of service, we have to go through the hardest parts of life, including facing dread, guilt, grief, and shame. During these moments, we either learn to take care of ourselves more deeply or we get pretty lost in the process. If we emerge from these deep inner battles with an ability to respect ourselves through care, we honestly do have something of value to share with others.

Once we share our hard-earned care and grace with those who are ready to hear it, we can witness a real healing take place. We see that our struggles have not been in vain. Our transmuted pain, also known as wisdom, can make life a more gentle, beautiful experience for others.

This is why 12-step recovery preaches service in its final step. Once we have learned the grace of practicing self-care, we can help others. As we know we can help others, the “sh*tty voice in our head” gradually loses its power and we live on with authenticity and dignity.

Today, I’ve shared two main messages in this post: 1) Don’t let dread keep you playing small in your life because; 2) Facing your fears in the name of self-care will truly make you of service to others. These are deepest truths I know today.

If these truths resonate with you, I hope you’ll consider joining the Beautiful Life Collective! This is a community of amazing women who are working on these deeper layers of self-care together. We practice self-care so we can be of service to others.

We made this community because we were tired of feeling like our self-care had to be practiced in a bubble. We wanted a more critical conversation about the societal impacts of self-care and how our self-care can be translated into community care. We were hungry for the incredible magic that happens when women support each other in community. We were tired of going it alone.

Due to the deeper nature of our work, I only like to open for new members a couple times a year. After our doors close on Friday, June 21st at midnight EST, we can settle into our community and fire up the self-care work together. I hope you’ll be joining us before then!

Learn more about the Beautiful Life Collective here.

(Please note: We’ve created this community to be a more affordable personal coaching option. Still, if the price is not accessible to you and you deeply resonate with the self-care message we share, please let me know and we can discuss options.)

I hope you have a wonderful next couple of weeks. I’m here if you have any questions about anything.

Wishing you more and more of the transformative power of self-care in your lives!

With care,
Gracy

PS: Reading back through what I wrote here, I realize that dread might show up differently and mean different things for you. Please take whatever I shared that feels valuable and create your own meaning from the rest. I’d love to hear any insights you’d like to share with me!