How to Feel Alive


I had a lightbulb moment this morning.

As I was meditating, snuggled up under my blankets, listening to Deepak Chopra tell me about life, something that I've intellectually known for sometime suddenly really started to make sense. It was like those moments when someone says something to you that is so true, you physically feel it.

Intellectually, I've known that to really live, to really truly feel fully alive, we have to be able to be with the uncomfortable feelings as well as the comfortable ones. I've known that to get to the lightness of life you have to be ok going through some darkness. I've known in my head that we have a full range and life is about exploring all of it.

But as I sat there, eyes closed, legs crossed, I saw, for the first time, the kind of game I've been playing with comfortable and uncomfortable feelings.

I spend most of my time chasing the comfortable, safe, happy feelings. The emotions feel like a euphoric place where I jump out of bed every morning like a child on it's birthday. It is a place of joy, lightness, fun, hope, aliveness, invigoration, humanness.

I make choices in my life in the hope that I will feel that euphoria, and sometimes it works. In all honesty though, most of the time I'm chasing the feelings rather than feeling them. And whilst chasing those emotions, I'm also trying not to feel the uncomfortable ones, feelings like fear, shame, anger and anxiety.

I'm running towards lightness and trying to escape the dark. And subsequently I end up spending less time in either place, and a lot of time in a sort of middle space. A place of chasing and avoiding.

What I realised in my meditative state this morning is I can stop running, and be with the uncomfortable feelings. And then what really landed for me was that the uncomfortable feelings actually offer some of what I'm chasing in the lighter feelings. Fear, anger, shame, sadness, disappointment are all very real, authentic, invigorating feelings. If I'm chasing feeling alive, then the full body blow of failure is as alive as you can get.

So suddenly it all made sense. Everything Brené Brown, Deepak Chopra, Danielle LaPorte, Thich Nhat Hanh, all my teachers at the Coaches Training Institute say, I feel I now understand on a greater level. Failure suddenly doesn't seem so scary anymore. Failing, trying, falling short, having things work, feeling joy, feeling sadness, feeling despair, feeling excitement, they're all two sides of the same coin. They all make me feel alive.

When I first started coaching, I thought it was all about feeling great and getting stuff done. What I know now is it's about something much greater. It is about knowing that all emotions are beautiful, all emotions are invigorating. My life is about being in emotion, I choose to live an emotional life, because really, what else is there.

* Image by Simon Wijers