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The other day I told someone that I love to sleep with a stuffy tucked up under my chin. She laughed as if this was odd, which I didn’t really understand. Because I’ve been pretty committed to finding my soothing things for a while now, and it has become my normal to sit on the couch in the evenings with my weighted vest and blanket, my heated rice sock, my blue light glasses and hoodie, and … if I feel like it, my stuffy under my chin. If doing these things calms my nervous system and sets me up for a great night’s sleep and a good day tomorrow, then yes please. And also, who was the one that said we had to grow out of the things that make us naturally feel good? Who was the one who said we had to be like everyone else? And wait what, I’m not allowed to sleep with a stuffy anymore now that I’m fifty? Ridiculous.

When I think about what made me feel good when I was little, there was so much dancing, and so much singing, running through the woods as fast as I could dodging trees, coloring, trying to swing so high I’d go up and over the bar, jumping rope, kneading playdough, lots of cartwheels and skipping and wandering barefoot in streams and collecting treasures and being fascinated by all the tiny wonderful magic things that are all around us.

Is there a reason we stop doing the things we loved doing when we were children, the things we innately knew made us feel good?
Why, why did we stop?

We did those things because they felt good,
and
we came into this world WANTING to feel good.

And – We came into this world knowing HOW to feel good.
Knowing just exactly the things we could do to help ourselves feel good.

So when did that get conditioned out of us?

Somewhere along the line we were taught to “grow up.” The big people in our lives bullied out of us all the gorgeous things we knew we needed.

We were taught to be good. To be quiet, to sit still, stop fidgeting. Color in the lines, make eye contact, be polite. Say the right things at the right time in the right way. Don’t feel bad; in fact, don’t feel your feelings at all. Be quiet, wear shoes, pay attention, stop daydreaming.

In essence, we were taught to squash out every natural inclination we have. To trample upon and eradicate everything that comes naturally to us in order to fit in with everyone else. Do the opposite of what you know your brain and nervous system need to be successful and feel good.

And that was that. They instructed and modeled the life energy right out of us, stomped upon our free spirits and tried to break us because they had been broken TOO and they didn’t know any other way. They could literally not handle seeing our raw joy when they had stopped being able to access their own. And we didn’t know enough to hold on to the last remaining remnants of the power we came into this world with.

And – they were wrong. And – now we’re grown ups and we get to get back to doing things our own way again. We may be a bit banged up, yeah, but however it feels, we are NOT broken and we can be made free and whole again. We can reclaim what we once were, we can reclaim what we came into this world knowing, and we can feel amazingly well again. We can.

If you liked to jump on a trampoline when you were little, what’s stopping you now? If you liked to blare music and sing at the top of your lungs. If you liked to color or dance or swing, these are the natural ways that you knew helped you to feel your best, they helped your brain function optimally, they helped to soothe or stimulate your nervous system in just the right way that YOU needed, and you can reclaim all of them, no matter your age. You might not feel physically or emotionally up to it. The thought of swinging or singing or bending over or laughing might feel utterly foreign and inaccessible to you right now because these outlets may have atrophied a little or maybe a lot. But I promise you that they are still in there and they will still be accessible to you if you work your way slowly and gently toward making it so. So go as slowly as you need to, but find little ways you can re-incorporate into your life the things that used to feel just right to you. Take all the time you need, but keep trying things ‘til you find YOUR things. You’ll know when you do.

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I wrote this after having a conversation with a woman who told me her dad had slapped her hands when she played with her fingers as a child. She had had this lovely self soothing habit that was shamed out of her. After I wrote this free-flowing rant, I didn’t want to stop, so I created a full-length guided writing prompt sequence complete with a couple pages for further processing and a coloring page! for those who feel inspired to continue exploring this topic. It can be found here in my shop.

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