Friday, October 7, 2016

When You Need to Cocoon

I have this tendency when I'm feeling vulnerable to hide inside my comfortable little shell I've created for myself to feel safe and secure. To others it often looks like anger, sounds like silence and feels like indifference. To me, it feels like the times when I was a child and a thunderstorm rolled in. I would quickly grab all the pillows, blankets and stuffed animals I could and created a shelter in my closet, behind closed doors, feeling untouchable. Even back then I hesitated to lean into others for support and comfort. I kind of grew up learning to rely on myself.

I'll put a hooded sweater on so I can cover up as much of myself as possible. I'll pull the strings of my hood to shield my face from the world and pull my sleeves long so my hands are tucked away. I'll cancel plans and stop interacting with people as much as I can. I'll appear subdued as I quietly process my emotions and attempt to figure out the root cause to my funk. One of my best friends once referred to this as "cocooning." And the metaphor is perfect.

Do you ever feel this way? Like you just want to hide away? Like you need a break from the world and all that overwhelm that comes with life? Like you just need to retreat into yourself and no matter how good the company is from others, you just can't tolerate it? Like you just need to numb and stop giving, being and doing so much every single day?

Yeah. I cocoon. I probably cocoon a lot. It comes with the territory of being a very introspective person who lives by her emotions.

I'm learning to ride the waves when this happens. Instead of judging myself and pushing myself to do the things I think I should be doing, I'm learning to sit back and allow, process, feel, explore and let go.

Because this has been a hot topic of conversation these days with one of my BFFs, I wanted to bring this up in case any of you are feeling this shift as well. What's a girl to do when she just wants to cocoon?

1. Honour your Needs

If I've learned anything in my life it's that the more you repress your emotional needs, the greater the breeding ground for resentment, anxiety & fear. Through yoga and meditation, one of the biggest things I have learned is to just sit with whatever I'm going through. Rather than trying to change it, expedite it or erase it...I sit with it and observe. I observe what childhood trauma is triggered. I notice how my body and mind react. I listen to the symptoms my body is sharing with me. I honour my need to cocoon because it's in the cocoon that transformation and growth take place.

2. Keep your Heart Open

This is about the most unnatural and uncomfortable response in the world for me. I learned from a young age to build up body armour quick as a wink when I needed it. Vulnerability couldn't touch me I believed (inaccurately). It became second nature to feel a bit hurt by someone and immediately turn off my emotions and harden myself. I would go numb and didn't get an eff about anything or anyone. I now refer to this as my "bitch face." I notice even now I pull it out at times. When I'm feeling vulnerable, there it is, and I throw vibes out that scream "don't talk to me!" to anyone within a 79870 mile radius. I've learned to recognize it though, and am faster at removing it and allowing people in. But it took me a very long time to see it and understand its purpose in my life. It served me well in my childhood. A few months ago I was in one of the most vulnerable places of my life and I was desperate to harden. It's my safe place, it's my go-to when I'm feeling unsafe. But I knew those defenses were destructive to myself and others so I forbid it from happening. Which meant opening the door to vulnerability and holding its hand. Yikes. Not a comfortable place to sit yet it's what will grow you the fastest. In Yoga, poses can be more or less classified in two categories - expansion or contraction. Even now, I force myself into expansion poses that allow opening, despite my sometimes desperate need to curl up into child's pose, safe in my little shell.

3. Ramp up your self-care practice

When you're sitting with vulnerability and leaning into it for growth, it's a good idea to increase the amount of time you spend in your self-care practice. When you're already feeling exposed and uncertain, the last thing you need is to be belittled and yourself especially. Take extra care in being gentle with you, in speaking kinder to yourself and in indulging in things that bring you joy. Epsom salt baths, facial masks, a walk through the woods, reading a good book...whatever speaks to your heart, do more of that. Always...but certainly in times of cocooning. Hold space for yourself. In love.


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