Estrangement Fatigue

"I'm exhausted."

"I'm so tired of having no energy or motivation."

"I start every day feeling emotionally overwhelmed."

If you can relate, you have lots of company. In coaching sessions I hear estranged moms make statements like these all the time.

Feeling drained is a symptom. To feel better, we need to get to the underlying cause.

And from what I've seen with clients - and experienced myself - it's that we don't deal with our painful thoughts and feelings. Not on purpose, or even consciously. Coping skills aren't taught.

Instead, our society promotes happiness at all costs. So not only do we not learn how to cope, we learn that negative thoughts and feelings can be wrong, and scary, often best to hide and avoid.

This frequently plays out in 2 ways:

1. We go through the day resisting emotions and fighting off thoughts. Anything related to estrangement is to be avoided and pushed away. We may appear "flat" or numb. Basically we spend our day using willpower to hide and reject painful thoughts and very real feelings.

2. Instead of using all our energy to fight off tears and negativity, we use it to force positivity. Instead of appearing numb, we fake a smile. Consciously or not, we try to meet societal demands for happiness. We want to be accepted, maybe even admired, for our positivity.

Pretty sure I've done both of these! As you probably know, it's exhausting.

And the result is that by denying our thoughts and feelings, we intensify all of it.

In other words, when we go along with the idea that we shouldn't have pain, then we block ourselves from coping in a healthy, real way. And we add another layer to it - usually guilt or shame - on top of the pain we're already experiencing. The pain escalates.

There are research studies about this, one is here. And another about "avoidance coping," which, as the term states, is coping by avoiding emotions, here.

And there are anecdotes. Have you ever heard the phrase, don't think of an elephant? We immediately think of an elephant. We can't help ourselves!

Or if you're trying to lose weight and block out what you "can't" eat - eventually you exhaust yourself with your thoughts, and devour the forbidden craved food.

By actively trying to avoid thinking about something, we end up thinking about it all the time.

So if you're with me that denying our thoughts and feelings doesn't work, what does?

Because of course we're going to have lots of thoughts and emotions when struggling with one of our most important relationships. We're human, we're moms.

It seems obvious. Intellectually we know this.

The 1st step? Accepting painful thoughts and feelings. Seeing they're a normal part of life. Not buying in to society's happiness obsession. Not feeling guilty for being human.

From what I see, in spite of getting it intellectually, our actions don't match up.

We work so hard at pushing it all away, we exhaust ourselves.

Negative thoughts and emotions aren't scary or shameful. It's the resistance that's the hardest.

Kind of like getting ready to speak publicly, or anything that might cause anxiety, it's the anticipation through which we suffer most.

On a practical level, we're not always in a place where you can let loose - we may not want to sob in the grocery store. And sometimes we want to fake smile our way through situations.

But the idea is to recognize our thoughts and emotions in the moment. When we accept them we don't have to judge them, or judge ourselves, or think something terrible is happening.

Then we can make space to really feel. For some, that's setting aside time each day to think about what's happened and feel their way through it. For others, it's catching their emotions and taking them in quietly at that moment, until the feelings pass. When we acknowledge without resistance, they do pass.

It takes effort. And it leads to more energy and freedom.

Ironically, a happier existence.

Moms, I want you to know that processing emotions is a skill. That you can learn - anyone can. I'm to here to help you through it. Schedule a free consult, here.

To learn more about I do, watch my free video! It's just under 10 minutes and I've had a lot of feedback about it being helpful, so I hope it helps you, too.

Have an amazing week!

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