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"What else is true?"
This is a question, brought into my life by the beautiful soul Laverne Cox who incorporated it into her life through her trauma healing work. It's a really useful question to ask ourselves, and Laverne asks it to her interviewees/collaborators at the end of each episode of her wonderful podcast. For those of us living with pain, anxiety, trauma, depression - it's a way to allow ourselves to honour what is hard and wrong and sad and painful, and to also recognise that other things, neutral and even positive, can exist at the same time.
Despite my training as a coach having deep roots in positive psychology, I talk fairly often in The Deep Duckpond and with my 1:1 clients about how important it is to not Pollyanna over everything, ignoring the dark shit we're experiencing or have lived through. It can lead to bitterness and resentment, burnout and chandeliering, and doesn't recognise the beautiful mess and variety of existence as a fully-rounded human. It can stop us from acknowledging our own thoughts and feelings, and create a barrier to real, deep connection with other souls. All our feelings are valid (they are not necessarily facts, but they are valid). And we, as beautiful humans, contain multitudes. Simultaneously conflicting thoughts, beliefs, and desires. And that's okay.
So comes the question, "what else is true?" - after acknowledging the dark side of the moon of our existence ... what else is true?
It's a way to get ourselves out of a negative spiral, to find some hope, some light, a positive branch to cling onto and grow with. A tool to open up that door to life and breath and opportunity and otherness.
It ties in quite nicely with a metaphor I found while working with my old therapist (we did quite a lot of parts-therapy), where I imagined my "me" and my "voice" as being made up of many different voices in a choir. And I get to choose where I put the mic. Some voices are, through nature and nurture, societal 'norms' and personal practice, more powerful than others. They carry further, they know the timbre and pitch to get those wine glasses tingling. But I'm in charge of the mic. I get to find ways to amplify the quieter voice, the gentler voice, the voice of that little novice nun who lets her power burst out when Whoopi gives her the look of love in Sister Act.
What else is true? Where do I want to put the mic?
It's important to be able to hear all voices. Doesn't mean that we have to listen and give reason to them all, but being able to hear and learn from them all is a way to honour that stunning complexity of our human lives, loves and losses.
Next time you find yourself giving an 'absolute' truth about yourself, particularly if it's 'negative' (I'm not using 'negative' with any judgement here, I just mean a truth that concerns sadness, anger, guilt, regret, pain, shame, fear, ...), remember this little prompt. Especially in times of heightened anxiety or despair ... remember to ask yourself the question: what else is true? Go into your body, find another truth.
We're not trying to negate the 'hard' emotion or feelings ... we're just recognising that it's not the only one there right now. And this can sometimes be enough to pull us out of that anxious doom-spiralling.
I feel anxiety every time I leave my house. What else is true? I feel better almost every time, rejuvenated when I get home by connection, movement, mask-filtered fresh air.
I worry about how my transition is going to affect my family relationships. What else is true? I'm touched by the ways my family are finding to support me.
I'm still intimidated by the power of 'never' when it comes to booze, despite being over 500 days sober and a fucking sober coach!! What else is true? I don't have a single regret about my sober journey so far, and can't currently think of a single positive effect going back to the booze could have for me.
My body hurts and can't do everything I want it to. What else is true? I feel more at home in it over this last year of transition, pain and fatigue than I did in any of the 35 previous years.
I love you all.
Thank you for seeing and supporting me. If you are able to contribute a little financial support via my Patreon, I am always grateful for those who allow me to spend my time and energies focussed where I'm supposed to be. Here is some more information on why I've chosen this platform and this approach - it truly does take a village.
(image description: a photo taken not far from my house with a big mirrored building, in front of which are some trees - two still with their winter wardrobe in full effect, and one showing off the splendours of spring, with gorgeous white blossoms covering its branches. Both states - wintery and springy - are true, valid, and simultaneous)