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We dissolve stuck and rewrite patterns. We apply radical playfulness to life (when we feel like it!), embarking on internal adventures (credo of Safety First). We have a fake band called Solved By Cake. We build invisible sanctuaries, invent words and worlds, breathe awe and wonder.

We are not impressed by monsters. Except when we are. We explore the connections between internal territories and surrounding environment to learn what marvelously supportive delicious space feels like, and how to take exquisite care of ourselves. We transform things.* We glow wild.**

* For example: Desire, fear, worry, pain-and-trauma, boundaries, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity.

** Fair warning: Self-fluency has been known to lead to extremely subversive behavior, including treasuring yourself unconditionally, unapologetically taking up space, experiencing outrageously improbable levels of self-acceptance, and general rejoicing in aliveness.


What you do when you feel like dirt.

This is not some theoretical post, full of brilliant bits of how-to-ishness from genius expert me.

I actually do feel like dirt at the moment.

Dirt. Dirt. Dirt. Dirt. Dirt. Ugh.

To the point that I don’t even feel up to walking you through my process or anything. Sorry.

But maybe just a few of the things I do when everything is dirt, and some of the ideas behind the process. Because there’s no way I can write about — or even think about — anything else right now when it’s all dirt. DIRT.

So: some of the things that help me cope with the hard and come through on the other side when I’m ready.

Not asking “how come”. Just don’t ask.

There is always a good reason — usually a series of good reasons — for why you’re feeling what you’re feeling.

As soon as you start demanding to know why everything feels so awful, you start to doubt the legitimacy of the feeling and wonder what’s wrong with you?!

Which leads you straight into more stuck.

Better: assume legitimacy.

Even though I have no idea why I feel like dirt, this is where I am right now and baby, that’s how it is. For now. Not forever. Just right now.

Giving yourself permission to feel as crappy as you want.

Because that’s what you’re feeling.

It sucks, yes. And … that feeling is what’s true for you in this moment.

If you can’t give yourself permission to feel what you’re feeling, give yourself permission to not be able to feel what you’re feeling yet.

This feeling of dirt doesn’t define me. It’s not the whole of who I am. It’s just the thing I’m dealing with right now. Even though I hate feeling like dirt, I’m allowed to hate it as much as I want.

Letting the reasons have their weight.

Once you’ve stopped asking but how come how come how come and you’ve stopped fighting with the feeling, you’ll probably know why you feel like dirt.

Or at least, you’ll have some pretty decent theories.

Instead of trying to convince yourself that these are stupid reasons and here’s why you actually shouldn’t be feeling like dirt, let those reasons seem like okay reasons.

Talk to yourself as if it were your best friend in the entire world who felt like dirt and had every reason to.

Wow. No kidding. Of course you feel like dirt after X happened. That’s a really hard thing to go through. And you’re catching up on sleep. And you’ve been dealing with all these other things. And things are changing in your life like crazy now. Who wouldn’t feel like dirt right now?

Figuring out what you’re actually talking about.

Okay, so I feel like dirt. What does that mean? What does that look like?

It’s not the same as dirty. It’s not necessarily about messiness. It’s about blah. It’s dusty and formless and smudged and hard all at the same time.

It’s not rich soil where something can grow. It’s just there. It’s useless and it’s there.

It’s hurt in my heart. It’s dread in the pit of my stomach. It’s blocked in my throat.

This is my personal definition of feeling like dirt. And now that I know what it looks like or sounds like or feels like, I can recognize it when it comes up.

Reminding yourself of the relationships between things.

At this point, the stuck might have less power over you, but to some extent it still kind of seems like it’s running your life.

This is where you remember that pain and stuckification and suckiness and feeling like dirt are all temporary, momentary, normal parts of being alive.

They are not the grand sum of your identity. Even when it feels like it is.

Even though I have no idea how long it will take to stop feeling like dirt, I’m going to give myself as much support as I can stand right now. And I’m reminding myself that I am not my thoughts and feelings.

I am larger than all of my thoughts and feelings. I am the being that brings these thoughts and feelings into existence, and I can learn to interact with them instead of being the innocent bystander who keeps getting knocked over by them.

Finding your resources of strength.

There are internal resources to call upon. I get to mine through breathing, singing, dancing, crying, repeating words, writing or meditating.

There are also external resources to call on. I get to mine by talking to my duck or leaning on friends or consulting an old, favorite book. Reading a blog post counts.

If I can’t draw on my own strength, I can draw on someone else’s. If I can’t count on someone else’s, I go back and look for my own.

If the stuck is so intense that it feels as though neither of these are available in that moment, I plant the request in my heart.

Like this: you close your eyes and say, “Strength, please!” and wait for it to come to you.

Sure, this too shall pass and all that. But in the meantime — while I’m in it — I’m willing to receive whatever support I can. I am willing to get better at accessing hidden sources of support that fit what I need.

Avoiding people who will try to talk you out of what you’re feeling.

The cheerer-uppers mean well.

But just as often they make it seem as though it’s no big deal. As though you don’t deserve to feel the thing you’re feeling.

You want the people who will give you a hug. The ones who will make you laugh but are also strong enough to just let you feel like dirt for as long as you need to.

Not the ones who can’t handle your pain because it sets off theirs.

I’m ready for support and kindness from the people in my life … and in the meantime, I’m going to practice giving it to myself because that’s where it starts.

That’s what I’ve got for now.

That and appreciation for my duck Selma and my patient, loving gentleman friend who both allow me to feel like dirt when I feel like dirt.

They remind me what unconditional love is and what it looks like. Which means that — at some point — I’ll probably have at least some sort of shot at being able to practice it with myself.

57 Responses to What you do when you feel like dirt.

  1. […] I think my monster has quietened down a little – I don;t want to ignore him, but it’s good that he’s not making me feel like dirt anymore. […]

  2. Lily says:

    Not much to add. What to do? Check out other people via the net and realize that you are not the only one in pain, nor is yours necessarily the worst pain ever. But that no one here is denying you your pain, either, no one is blaming, no one is telling you to snap out of it (does anyone ever actually say that in real life?).

    One bad thing about depression is that everything seems like just too much effort. Yet sitting and stewing over how miserable you feel doesn’t help either. So you try to numb out, and the means used often cause you to feel worse.

    For “you” I mean “me,” of course.

  3. […] as long as necessary, is the process described in the following post by the marvelous Havi Brooks: What you do when you feel like dirt. Because I really REALLY […]

  4. […] I’m sharing all my depression-fighting techniques, this from Havi at The Fluent Self also helps put me back to center. Because I am emotionally […]

  5. Cat says:

    I have my dog. NO matter how I feel, he doesn’t think of me as dirt and is always there to comfort me. Pure dog love has been more healing and teaching of unconditional acceptance than anything so far.

  6. […] Questioning their legitimacy? Not gonna help anything. This is something I learned from Havi Brooks http://thefluentself.wpengine.com/blog/not-hating-on-yourself/what-you-do-when-you-feel-like-dirt/ When all the cheerer-uppers in the world, and even yourself, are acting as though you don’t […]

  7. Christina says:

    I believe this is the fourth or fifth time I link to this blog from my Facebook page. I read it, reread it, have it printed out and pinned to the wall in my office. It’s brilliant and reassuring and calms me down without side effects when I’m awfulizing and — yes, feeling like dirt. Thank you, Havi. :)

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