If you’ve been following along, you know that about seven months ago I moved to New York City with my partner Jeremy. I’d lived in Los Angeles my entire life – entire life – so the shift brought up all sorts of emotions (you can read about some of them here and here). About two weeks before we left, I started to get a little bit anxious. Being the calming force that he is, he mentioned to me that we should probably plan for at least 2 to 3 big freak out moments in the first few months. Cool. Okay. Permission to lose it. I can do that.
Fast forward to now, and while I’ve definitely had my own one-off moments of spontaneously crying or stressing out, I hadn’t sat down and really allowed myself to digest the big change. What more, it wasn’t until last week that both of us sat down, frazzled, and realized that neither one of us had truly taking the time to digest the enormous change that we had just made. “Resilience” alone wasn’t gonna cut it.
So here’s what we did: we scheduled a two to three hour block last weekend and decided we were going to go somewhere, get a nice warm cocktail (because it’s cold outside) – and have a planned freak-out.
When Jeremy presented this idea to me, I thought that he meant a good old venting sesh. But I should have known better: Jeremy loves systems and structure, and what he’d done went beyond venting. He’d thought up a plan to help us figure out where to go with all that freak-out energy. And I’ve got to say it was one of the most cathartic, helpful, impactful exercises I maybe have ever done.
Want to do your own planned freak-out? Here’s how:
• Get a notebook. Any notebook will do. Preferably one that won’t end up at the bottom of your backpack or purse or below your bed under the receipts from last year. Open up a spread of two pages. On one side, write THINGS I HATE (*you know how I feel about the word hate). On the other side, write down THINGS I DISLIKE. Set a timer for 20 minutes, and go.
• Now that you’ve got your two lists, draw a line underneath or flip to the next page. Write in bold letters: SO WHAT YOU GONNA DO ABOUT IT?
• Once you’re ready, open up your notebook again to a new spread of pages. On one side, write THINGS I LOVE. On the other side, write down THINGS I LIKE. Set a timer for 20 minutes, and go.
• And then, yes, once you’re done, write at the bottom: SO WHAT YOU GONNA DO ABOUT IT?
What I found interesting was that when I started writing my lists, I could see very clear themes.
Disconnection was at the root of most all of my problems, “hates,” and dislikes.
Connection was at the root of most all my likes, loves, and happiness.
And when I started to write my second list of “To-Do About Its,” I could see one more pattern: that asserting myself in my own life was at the root of most everything I could do to feel the way I wanted to feel.
It’s only been a few days, but I feel completely refreshed after our planned freak-out. No, this is not the end. Yes, I’m already planning on allowing myself this time again in six months (or sooner if needed). But the biggest takeaway for me is that sometimes I need to break down in order to build up stronger than before. And planning that – allowing myself the time and space to just sit with all my highs and lows simultaneously – prevents shame or guilt from getting in the way.
Resilience is a strength for sure, but just because you’re able to tough things out or go with the flow doesn’t mean you need to pretend it’s easy. You cannot truly live into your high highs if you ignore your low lows – and if you look close enough, you’ll see the extremes are directly related.
So. What you gonna do about it?
If you’re like me and need a good old fashioned freak-out, block off a few hours in your calendar and when the day comes, get to writing. I’d love to hear what comes up for you. Do you see patterns? Difficult realizations? Stuff coming up you didn’t expect was even there? I’d love to hear in the comments.
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