This morning I woke up with low-grade sadness permeating in my heart, and an overwhelming sense of not being good at anything. I don’t know if it is a result of a poor nights sleep or perhaps being greeted by a gloomy day, where even the clouds are heavy with tears. Whatever it was, it caused me to drag as I readied for my morning. It felt like everything was moving in slow motion. Heavy sighs escaped my lips turning regular breath out of its rhythm and into a pace that matched my current mood. Slow and heavy, each breath was laboured and dropped out like a slow thud to the floor. I looked into the mirror and was greeted back by my own small self-image, laden with slumped shoulders, wrinkled brow and that droopy mouth that just hung on my face as if it were ready to fall off at any moment.
This happens from time to time, days of sadness and low self-worth, they would hit without warning and make daily chores burdensome and difficult. This mood shatters any self- confidence I have and cause me to second guess everything. Self-devaluation and negative self talk whisper in my ear luring me to believe every unsaid word uttered.
As a child I would experience these bleak moments; moments of sadness or unworthiness. Growing up with a parent who was emotionally abusive and controlling made it hard to express emotions in a healthy way. When these moments of sadness would hit it was even more difficult because they were simply not allowed, accepted or to be acknowledged. I’d have to put on my mask if I was going to make it through the day. You know that mask? It’s the one I put on that says, “I’m fine” even when I’m not at all. The mask that is meant to fool everyone including myself. Do you have a mask like that?
The trouble with a mask is that it simply disguises the feeling and doesn’t actually get rid of it or deal with it. Underneath the mask the emotions still smoulder. I liken it to pouring water on a fire; the flame from the surface may go away and give the illusion that the fire is out but if you don’t roll the logs over and cool the embers underneath they will continue to smoulder and could reignite into flame at any moment.
There was always one person who could never be fooled, she could recognize my mask immediately, she knew exactly how I was feeling even when I was confused and second guessing myself, Best of all, she knew what I needed. My mother was a master at reading emotions in others, I guess years of practice watching for triggers or keeping the peace had given her the experience and wherewithal to help me know what to do.
When I was small and feeling blue she would stop me and sit me down. She’d take my face into hands and look deep into my eyes. In her soft, calm voice she would say, “Katherine, which way does the mouth go?” I’d resist, preferring to stay in my own little safe world of quiet masked sadness. Searching my eyes she’d ask me again, “Katherine, which way does the mouth go?” After a few repetitions I’d realize that she was not giving up on me so I’d turn my mouth up into a feeble, somewhat pathetic little smile. She’d just stare back with a try again look on her face. Somewhere in this process a true smile would cross my face or I’d think about how silly my smile must be and start to laugh. It’s all I needed. Someone to take the time to see me and know I wasn’t okay, someone to show love, patience and to acknowledge I was sad and then help me through it. It worked every time and still to this day some 50 years later it still works.
As I stood in front of the mirror looking at myself this morning; forlorn and feeling blue I remembered my mother’s words and let them play in my mind, “Katherine, which way does the mouth go?” I gave myself a little weak smile. I stood there for a moment just looking at myself with that same try it again look as my mother, giving myself the patience and kindness I needed until I finally broke out into a full real smile. “I’m okay, I’ve got this,” I told myself.
Wanting to make sure that I got the care I needed, I then went to my phone pulled out the Reset Zone App and selected <Sadness> as my emotion. I watched and walked through a one-minute video tool “Bring in the Joy with Mike.” Together Mike and I breathed out the sadness and breathed in joy.
The gloomy day still exists and the clouds are still swollen from their teary expressions but as I returned to the mirror the girl whose reflection I now faced holds her shoulders with greater confidence, her brow is smoother and her mouth is turned up like a cup full of joy. The sadness and self-doubt acknowledged and moved through to be replaced with the hope that today will be filled with a fresh start and a little more joy.
Here’s my top 5 tips that help me on days like today, my hope is by sharing them I can be that small voice that reminds you which way the mouth goes:
When our emotional health is in a bad state, so is our level of self-esteem. We have to slow down and deal with what is troubling us, so that we can enjoy the simple joy of being happy and at peace with ourselves. – Jess C. Scott
A Note to Myself:
Stop, take a minute to look after yourself, be kind to you and on days like today remember to look in the mirror and ask yourself “Katherine, which way does the mouth go?”
Peace, Love and Joy awaits….
Director of Operations – Reset Zone