The Magic is in the Mess… of Life
With every messy moment and experience and every messy feeling we have an opportunity for immense growth, healing and change.
Embrace the mess and see the gift and welcome the opportunities gifted to us.
I cannot wait to tell you about my new favourite place to eat in London. I have a memory from so many years ago that I have never forgotten. It impacted me so immensely that when I remember it today it seems so vivid and so clear it is like it occurred yesterday. And when I recall it in my mind, my whole body responds because it was one of those unbelievable ‘ah ha’ moments when a part of me woke up and started seeing something about myself I couldn’t see before.
Do you know these moments? These unbelievable ‘ah ha’ moments of self-awareness that change you forever and you can never really go backwards from? I’ve had many in my life and they are priceless golden gifts each time they come.
I was standing in my acting class. I used to be an actress by the way! Yup, in another lifetime!
Anyways, I was standing in my acting class in front of the whole class whilst my acting teacher was speaking to me. I was never a very good actress. I was never fully able to let go and let the real life flow through me and transform into creative art. I was a very good ‘performer’ and I was very good at putting on a certain ‘presentation’ of myself, but these are very different things to allowing something real and authentic to show.
My teacher was being particularly hard on me that day, I guess because he had had enough of my presentations of myself and the characters I was working on. He was desperate for me to start revealing something truthful, something authentic. He came up to me (in front of the whole class) and our conversation went a little like this:
Acting Teacher: “Nicky, my dear, why do you avoid the mess so much?”
Me: “I’m not sure I understand what you mean acting teacher” (Me looking completely bewildered and baffled)
Acting Teacher: “I mean why do you avoid the mess so much? When I watch you, when I’m around you, when I’m with you, it’s almost like you’re semi-frozen. Like one of those semi-defrosted chickens you get once you’ve taken it out of the freezer” (Yup he called me a bloody frozen chicken) And he came over to me and he touched my heart and he said “And your chest, your heart, it’s like it is semi-frozen”
Now I really started looking and feeling baffled. I literally had no idea what he was talking about. What did he mean? What on earth was he talking about?
Acting Teacher: “You see Nicky, you are using all your energy, all your creative life energy that makes you YOU, that makes you alive, that makes you a living breathing alive human being, to avoid all the mess. To keep things all held together and tidy and good and perfect and pretty. But whilst you’re so busy trying to keep everything held together you are freezing up all the life in you”
Acting Teacher: “Because Nicky, the mess is the life. This is where the art is. This is where the magic is. THE. MESS. IS. THE. LIFE”
And then boom! It hit me! And in literally a few milliseconds my whole life flashed before my eyes. And I looked around the room and I saw my perfect little pink handbag and my perfect outfit and realised I had always desperately tried to present the most perfect version of myself, and smile, be pretty, be skinny and whatever happens DO NOT SHOW anyone, especially myself, the messy emotions and storms and thoughts that flowed through me on a daily basis.
And why? Because I was terrified of the mess.
I went home after that class feeling like I had been hit in the head. I could barely move. He was right. I felt semi-frozen. But facing the mess, feeling the mess, embracing the messiness in me seemed like an absolutely terrifying thing. I had no idea how or what to do next but right there in that moment something had woken up and I knew I couldn’t go back.
I was frozen. I felt frozen. My diet was rigidly clean. I pushed myself repeatedly to exercise all the time. My relationships were almost always on my terms. Even my health had frozen up with my periods stopping up for nearly 3 years by then.
I didn’t want to be frozen anymore. I wanted to be and feel alive. Really alive!
Over the next decade I began to dive into my mess. Messiness around food, messiness around my body, my emotions, my life patterns the whole shebang. And I soon began to realise that there were so many unbelievable gifts of opportunity within all my mess. Opportunity for me to grow, heal, change, transform, learn about myself and become more empowered.
And I got messy! Well at least it ‘felt’ messy but I’m sure from the outside it didn’t look as messy as it felt. I let go of any rules and regulations around food and diet and exercise and began listening to my body and my cravings. I paid attention to my emotions and allowed them to begin to flow. I had days where I cried and shouted and let go of anger and I had days where I felt peaceful and calm and quiet.
I went through what felt like years of ‘messiness’ where I wasn’t quite sure of where I was going and I doubted myself many many times and called myself mad. But something in me trusted that what I was doing was what I needed to do and was the right way for me to go.
So I kept going.
And throughout all the ‘messiness’ something beautiful was beginning to grow, something solid, something grounded and something that was more ‘me’ then I had ever known was possible. My relationship with food and my body began to change and it began to be based on trust and freedom and love. The same came with my relationship to exercise and my body. And my emotions stopped being something I so desperately wanted to run from or hide but became such a huge part of who I am and part of the life in me today. And guess what… my periods returned too!
And I started to find my own voice. My own sense of self. My own expression. That is unique to me and that was in me the whole time.
And with each messy moment there has been something for me to learn and grow from, some opportunity for change and transformation. And I don’t feel frozen anymore. And I feel alive. And yes, sometimes I wish I didn’t feel things so much and I still get frightened of the messiness but then I remember……. THE MESS IS THE LIFE.
So I wanted to write this post for all of you that is terrified of the messiness of life. The emotions, the letting go, the surrender, the chaos, the not knowing. And for those of you that feel semi-frozen in yourselves and your body and are wondering where you’re own voice has gone. We are all in this together and it is just part of being a human being.
THE MESS IS THE LIFE.
And be careful with social media and the internet and advertising and TV where we see so many messages that we need to tidy ourselves up and have it all together and present such perfect parts of ourselves.
THE MESS IS THE LIFE. Don’t block it out. Don’t run from it or hide it or tidy it up. I know it is scary and I know it isn’t always easy and I know it may seem mad to dive right in. But trust me, right bang in the middle of the mess is a beautiful gift. A life lesson. An ‘Ah Ha’ moment that maybe you would never have been able to reach before you were brave enough to dive right in.
And what a relief it is to just allow ourselves to all have messiness. What a relief it is to let go and relax and just be human.
So with our messy hearts and fire in our soul I leave you with a few tools and practices I have picked up along the way to support this process:
1. Take responsibility for yourself
Dive right in to the mess but also take responsibility for yourself. It would be no use to just dive in and stay there and just splash around in the mess. Make a commitment to growing from the experience and taking responsibility for whatever you need to do to learn and grow and change from the the mess. Dive right in and use what you see as a learning tool so that you can come out the other side and transform that messy moment into something beautiful.
An Example: A student of mine comes to me to say she cannot stop eating bread and butter. Big piles of bread and butter every single day. Eating it until her stomach hurts and she doesn’t feel good. And she’s in turmoil about this situation and judges it and hates it and feels shame. But still does it every single day. So I say to her:
“You are eating the bread and butter for a reason. Not because you are bad or unloveable to doing anything wrong. You need something and are going to that bread and butter to try and meet your needs. Let’s dive in to this and see what’s going on”
After some investigation we discovered that right bang in the middle of the messy behaviour and intense cravings was a very clear longing from comfort. A very clear feeling of loneliness and emptiness. And it is painful to feel. It is understandable she wants to avoid feeling this. But in feeling it she may be able to transform it. And we may be able to find other loving, nourishing ways to meet her needs rather than the messy behaviour of the bread and butter binging.
Does this make sense? Dive in then take responsibility to learn from it so you can transform it.
2. Please don’t judge!
Judgement, shame and berating ourselves is a sure and fast way to stop any possibility for healing, growth and change. So please do not do this. Embrace the messiness with love and compassion. We are always only doing the best that we can with the information that we’ve got. Dive into the mess, learn more information and then do something new with that information. But judgement, shame and berating ourselves will not help. Please be loving and compassionate with yourselves.
3. Get support!
Get support. It is not easy to dive into our own mess on our own. And sometimes, often, we need other trusted people to guid us and make sure we don’t get lost in there! Ha ha!
With emotional stuff, see a therapist, counsellor, teacher, talk to a friend, mentor, parent. With food speak to others that will relate and be able to help and guide you. The same goes with anything else.
4. Let go of the picture in your head!
So often we get into so many problems when we have a picture in our head of how we are meant to be or how our lives should be. I still find myself getting in to this trap. That picture is a picture and that is it. It is not real life. Let it go. That picture is not serving us. Real life is not a perfect picture, real life is real life and it has messiness and beauty and chaos and peace. It has everything in it. Don’t get frozen by try to be a picture. Let that go and embrace the messiness of yourselves and your lives. You are exactly where you are meant to be.
5. Build up a spiritual practice
This one is in essential one for me. As diving in to the mess can be scary and often leave us feeling lost as we let go of old ways, beliefs, patterns and control. For me whenever I go through a new messy period I meditate more then ever and connect more then ever to something bigger, to my spiritual practice, to remember that I do not need to be always in control and there is something bigger holding me and guiding me. Otherwise we may just feel like we’re drifting alone in the stormy seas. Pray, meditate, yoga, chant, journalling, whatever it is that does it for you.
6. Balance & Boundaries
Now this is an important one – this post is not permission to suddenly lose all boundaries and control and begin to have full breakdowns or outbursts in inappropriate places or every living breathing moment of your day. For no other reason other than these are unlikely to be situations that will be able to hold and support you through your process. So dive into the mess AND choose appropriate people, places and things that will support you through it and give you the space to express yourselves. Remember the old adage “Don’t go to the hardware store to find milk” meaning try to go places where you know you can get your needs met in a safe and nourishing way rather than taking your emotional anger to work. Get what I mean? xxx
So that’s me for this week. Wherever you are when you’re reading this and whatever you’re doing, let’s all give ourselves permission this week to just be where we are. Mess and all. Because it is all part of the beautiful life that flows and lives in us and all opportunities for more growth and transformation. You are beautiful just as you are. In fact you are quite frankly magical!
Sending you all so much love and wishing you all a beautiful nourishing week.