Podcast Season 1, Episode 11
In this episode, Steve talks about how we as humans are usually in pursuit of a different experience than the one we're having - especially if that experience is uncomfortable. As we do this, we miss the present moment and what it's here to teach us and how it can help us heal, develop, and grow. Steve shares some of his experiences with discomfort and then demonstrates how he gets into healthy relationship with what's showing up for him. It's work that's challenging but profoundly healing.
Hello, my name is Steve Mattus with actual infinity, thank you for being here. Welcome to another episode of the love is always the answer podcast.
This is episode 11 of season one. And this is a really, really beautiful episode where I talk about being with what is what I’ve noticed in our world today. And in myself as well this is my behavior as well is that we are in a constant state of trying to get to somewhere else trying to be in a different state, we’re trying to get away from our current experience so we can experience something else. And it keeps us stuck, we actually think that being in pursuit of something different is moving us forward. But it’s actually running us in circles.
And we think that if we’re with what is we’re going to get stuck in that. And it’s actually not true, it’s actually what will move us forward in a direction where we make progress, there may not be as much activity or speed of movement, but we’ll actually be making progress versus simply having a lot of activity. So that makes sense.
And so towards the end of the episode, I walk you through a very high-level demonstration of the kind of process that I do frequently when I’m having an experience, especially if it’s a challenging experience, how I work with it, how I will be in relationship with what is so that I can learn what I need to learn. So that I am able to move forward in alignment with love in a healthy way being in a relationship with myself, in a healthy relationship with myself, and I’d like to share that with you today. So if you’re ready, let’s get to it.
Being with What Is
Today, I wanted to talk about being with what is because as I’m sure you know, life tends to bring us things that we don’t always request. And sometimes those things can be really challenging. And what I notice is that most people, and I don’t think I’m generalizing or over generalizing here.
But I think most people are in a constant state of trying to be in a different states trying to get somewhere trying to be different trying to get past wherever it is that they are, so that they can get to a different experience. And I believe that that leads us to miss a lot about life and actually keeps us more stuck. And it’s really counterintuitive, because we would think that, you know, if I am able to just be with what is well then won’t I just stay there forever. That’s the fear, right?
If I learned to just be with what is won’t I just get stuck. But actually learning to be with what is catapults us forward. Whereas this constant pursuit of stuff keeps us running in circles never getting anywhere, but it feels like but there’s a lot more movement there. But we’re just running in circles and learning to be with what is actually moves us compellingly in the direction moving forward. So we actually are making progress.
That might look like there’s less movement, but there’s actually more progress. So I want to start the discussion today talking a little bit about some experiences that I’ve had very recently, mostly during the month of October of this recent year. Been really, really challenging for various reasons, different things were going on, but there was a week in October, there was some time leading up to it and there was like a hangover afterwards.
So a little bit more than a week but there’s a week where the only word that I could use to describe what was happening to me was I felt neutralized just neutralized and I thought I was depressed and I think I think it was a form of depression but because I’ve been I’ve dealt with you know mental health stuff my whole life.
I have complex post traumatic stress disorder and a DD or ADHD one of those and highly sensitive. All those neurodivergent all these all these things right? So this is not something that’s new to me and so I’ve done a lot of practice being with what is. And so as this fog came in and neutralized me, what was really interesting is that it wasn’t bad. It’s not like I was crying curled up in a ball with a blanket and I, you know, wanted to get away from life. It wasn’t bad. But it wasn’t good either. I was just neutralized, like emotionally, I was just neutralized, which is almost a worst place, in my opinion, because you don’t have access to anything deep. It seems.
I wanted to do stuff, right? Like I could feel inside of me a desire because I’m, I’m doing a lot of things that I really care deeply about. I wanted to do the things. And yet I had zero Spark, to do anything, it’s like you have a car with a well, running engine, everything works. But no gas. So you turn the key. And yeah, it might turn over, but there’s just nothing there was able to get essentials done. And that was that was pretty much all.
So you know, I had some client appointments and some obligations that I had to attend to. And when it came time to those things, I was able to pull it together. I think that in some instances, that might be a form of masking, which is a term that’s used for those who are neurodivergent, or maybe on the autistic spectrum or different things like that, where we tend to hide what’s actually going on, so that we can feel normal. So we can look like we’re okay. And so I think that was a form of masking, I also think it’s a skill of compartmentalizing.
And, you know, when somebody else is expecting something of you, sometimes you can pull it together. You know, I remember when I worked in corporate, I would get migraines. And as I felt a migraine coming on during the day, this is way back in my 20s I will be able to, you know, pull it together. And I could I could keep going while I was at work. But as soon as the obligations were over, I crashed.
And this is reminiscent of that, you know, sometimes my mom used to do that she used to have a headache every single day. And she would go about her day and do what she needed to do. But then, as soon as the obligations were over, and the kids were cared for, and so on and so forth. Like she just had to lay down because there was just nothing left.
Anyway, I know that there are others that have felt similarly, one of my clients use this actually, this exact same word, felt like like they were in neutral. And so I know I’m not alone, and having this experience and just feeling neutralized, you’re not good, you’re not bad. You’d like to do stuff, but you have no spark to do stuff. And you’re getting some essentials done. But that’s the extent of it.
And often, in situations like this, or in similar situations, like with depression or with when folk when dealing with trauma or things like that, all we want to do is to get into a different state. We want to be different, we want to feel different, when we have access to a spark, we want to feel better. Sometimes we’d even be willing to feel worse, if that would move us forward more quickly. We just don’t want to be where we are.
When nothing is ever good enough
So day to day. It’s very clear, we’re constantly striving to get out of our experience and into a different one. Especially when what we’re experiencing is uncomfortable or it doesn’t match what we want or what we need or what we expect. And we struggle in the pursuit of F everything but the experience we’re having. And so that’s we end up in that endless loop of seeking something else and nothing is ever good enough.
Even when we get something that’s pleasurable. We’re off to the next thing. on a micro level, even when we accomplish something, like let’s say we did the dishes, we don’t stop to celebrate that or acknowledge ourselves for that. We bypass so much of what we do. Because it’s just what we do day to day. And we’re not being with what is in my experience and in my belief The place where real love and peace is found is where we are now as we are being with what is right now.
And accessing the love that’s available for us, even in those moments. Because love is always the answer. And love is always available, we don’t always feel it, we don’t always feel like we’re experiencing it or have access to it. And that’s okay. That doesn’t mean that it’s not available. But there’s a real lack of presence, in our own experience, especially when it’s uncomfortable.
So a quick disclaimer here, I want to mention that, as I’m talking about this, you know, if you’re experiencing oppression or violence, that’s not what I’m talking about. Here, if you’re being harmed, if you’ve been hurt, or you’re in danger, that’s not a place that you need to be present with, or to feel the love in the midst of all of that, right. If you’re in any of those situations, please get help any way you can get out of that situation, get somewhere safe, get somewhere where you’re cared for, you’re supported.
How to deal with your feelings
I’m talking about the general day to day life experience that we have, outside of some of the other systemic problems that we’re facing in the world. Alright, so how do we be with what is? So the question is, okay, so this is how it is today? How can I be with this? Without being harsh with it? Or myself?
In other words, maybe you’re feeling grief? How can I be with this grief today? Without being harsh with my grief? Or with myself? Okay, be with my sadness today, without being harsh with my sadness or with myself? How can I be with my trauma today? However, that’s showing up for you without being harsh with your trauma? Or what you’re experiencing around your trauma, or with yourself? How can I be with my ADHD? And how that’s showing up for me today? being distracted all the time.
Without being harsh, with a distraction, or with yourself? How can you be with your sensitive heart today? Without being harsh with your sensitive heart? Or with yourself? Or how can you be with your anger today? Without being harsh with your anger? Or with yourself? Who’s feeling the anger? How can you be with your overwhelm today? Without being harsh with your overwhelm? Or with yourself who’s experiencing the overwhelm? Why is this important?
It’s important that we’re able to find healthy relationship with what is because we will never be exonerated from our human experience except in death. So we’re gonna have feelings, both difficult and pleasant, due to various situations and circumstances, right? What would life be like for you, if even within the discomfort in the trauma and the other things that you deal with day to day? You could be with it. You’re able to be present with it doesn’t mean that you like it or that you want it right?
Let’s be clear. But if it’s here, what if you could expend your energy in a healthy way on things that matter to you, instead of expending so much energy on trying to get that thing to change or to get out of that situation? Because all it does is return? What if what we’re really being asked to do is to find our way to walk with these things. With our full and complete authenticity with our full heart with your full mind your full soul, your full spirit without apology and show up doing what matters to you, however, you’re able to do it in the state that you’re in.
Masking how you really feel
Now, I know that the world is not wired this way. which presents a whole another challenge. It’s why neurodivergent folks mask all the time, because it’s not acceptable to be sad in the world, or to be anger in the world or to have tics or to stim, or, you know, stimming is like when you tap your fingers or to wait to like stimulate yourself. Right?
It’s not okay to do that in public. And so we mask we hide, we put on a costume so that we can be accepted. I know the world is not wired this way, which is another challenge. I’m not meaning to bypass that. But sometimes. And sometimes we have to compartmentalize our experience so that we can function. That’s a healthy skill to have.
That’s, as I mentioned before, that’s how I function through my feeling neutralized is, you know, when someone was relying on me to do something, I was able to compartmentalize it somehow, because I had to show up for somebody else.
A few months earlier, I had a week of complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder stuff show up for me, which was one of the worst weeks I’ve ever had in my life. So, so difficult, and still was able to maintain this practice of presence. And while it was terrorizing is probably how I would describe it. I also wasn’t overcome by it, I was able to stay present with it, which is awesome, almost unbelievable. Just even as I reflect on a personally in this moment. So compartmentalization. Other ways of coping, we have to learn how to function in the world, right.
And yet, if we want to change the world, to rewire how the world works, then part of our call is to be that change. And it starts with you and I making the commitment to love and accept ourselves and every part of us that shows up. Now want to note what I just said there, to love and accept ourselves and every part of us that shows up. I did not say every thing that shows up. It’s important to love yourself. You don’t have to love and accept and embrace all the stuff that shows up for you. Does that make sense?
For instance, let’s say depression shows up for you. Being neutralized, shows up for you. That’s something that should that is showing up within you. That’s an experience you’re having. But your experience is not you. You are the one having an experience of depression, or having an experience of being neutralized or feeling neutralized. You are not your feelings, you experience your feelings, your feelings are information pointing towards needs that you have, you are not those feelings and you are not those needs. You are the one experiencing those things.
So the point here to be present with is be present with your self with your own heart, the one who is experiencing these things. And love your own heart as the experiencer. We often identify with the things that we’re experiencing as if it is us. And it’s not.
We often think that we get in our own way. Why would we do that? Like that doesn’t make any sense at all that we would get in our own way of something. You never get in your own way. It looks like that sometimes, but you never get in your own way. What’s in your way actually, is what feels like it’s in your way.
Actually. It’s there to remind you of something you need to learn or because a part of you believes it will help you meet your needs or keep you safe or give you access to love. If you’re quote unquote getting in your own way. It’s actually not in your way. It’s important for you to pay attention to that it’s there for a reason.
And again, you don’t have to like it or accept it but if you love your heart if you love yourself if you’re willing to stop and pay attention to be present with what’s here. What is here is here to help you to keep you safe. If you experience trauma in whatever form it showed up for you.
And here you are middle aged, maybe 40s 50s 60s. And you’re having trouble coping with loud noises. And you think, oh my god, I’m 50 years old. Why are loud noises? Why do I have to run and hide or put noise cancelling earbuds in? Why does it wreck me so much? Right, why does it rack me so much? Loud noises? What am I going to get over this? Your sensitivity to loud noises is trying to keep you safe. And does that get in your way? Yeah, it looks like it. It looks like it does, it feels like it does, because we just want to get past it.
And of course, I’m not a therapist. So I I’m not the one to go to for help. And well, how do I get past my trauma? That’s for those that are more trained than I am to help you with. But it’s not in your way. It’s trying to help you survive. And yeah, I’m with you. I wish I didn’t have CPTSD I wish I didn’t. Oh, I wish I didn’t. It is no fun. And it stops me cold in my tracks. Do I wish that it would just go away? Absolutely. And it’s always here for a reason.
Treat your difficulties like a visitor
And part of my job is to be with it when it shows up. As if it were a little last child who knocked on my door who returns time and time again. And I invite them in, and I sit them down loving myself along the way. Understanding that it’s visiting me for a reason. My job is to be in relationship with it.
How do we do that? Well, I just started talking about it. I’m gonna kind of walk through something with you, as I do with myself, this is how I work with myself and when my stuff comes up. And I’m going to what I do is I do I literally think of this as a visitor as a small child. Because often our traumas or the difficulties, the different things in our lives that get in our way originate from our childhood. Not always, but often they do. I know in my case, a lot of it does.
And so I’m going to it helps me to be in healthy relationship with it if I view it as a small child, because I would never be harsh with a small child. Maybe you can relate to that. And so when something shows up to me, whether it’s a feeling that’s uncomfortable or complex trauma or something else, I’ll sit with it. I’ll get quiet and I’ll do my spiritual practice is remembrance. And I’ll do spiritual practice just to be present with my heart. Held in the embrace of love, they’ll invite this challenge this trauma, this hurt this pain, this fear this, whatever it is to come in to come in to the imaginal realm of my heart through the door of my heart.
And I invite them and let’s just use fear. Maybe I get what feels like irrationally afraid of doing something that I know I can do. But for some reason it’s just I’m so afraid or I have so much resistance. I go into my heart and I invite the fear the resistance to come in. Would you like to visit and we talk and I basically just Have a conversation and I do a lot of listening, a lot of listening. Just as if it was a strange child who showed up on my doorstep? Who said, I’m lost? Can you help? Where are you from? Honey? What’s going on? What do you need? Is it okay that I asked you some questions? What do you need to tell me? This fear or resistance?
Often, in my experience, one of the things that these things need is simply to be acknowledged. And I say things like, I see you, I see that you’re here. And I trust that you’re here to help me.
I will often ask, Would you like to sit closer? Or would you like, can I? Can I hug you? Can I hold you? I asked, Do you feel safe? What do you want me to know about you?
What do you need to tell me? What am I not hearing? What am I missing? In this process, usually what comes through my heart and this can sometimes take a short amount of time, sometimes 1520 minutes. Other times it can take hours, day after day of doing this work. But without fail, what comes through is something that I hadn’t realized before or had forgotten or some kind of information about why this is here for me.
Now, it’s really important to point out that my intention in doing these kinds of practices is not to rid myself of the thing. My goal is not to get this imaginal child to leave. My goal is to be with it to be present with what is if there is an underlying energy of what do you want, and I’ll give it to you so you can leave that will be felt. And this whatever this is will not be held, will not feel held and will not be healed. So there really needs to be a sincere willingness to be with what is and when my when I can access that sincerity.
Often I get the message of why it’s here, it doesn’t mean that it then goes away. Even if that’s not my intention for it to go away, sometimes it hangs out for a while. And in my experience, part of why it hangs out for a while is to help deepen the face deepen the trust, that I don’t have an underlying covert agenda of getting rid of it. Thank you going to hang out for a while just to see if you really really are sincerely willing for me to be here.
And I tell you my experience with this is that when I truly am willing for it to be here, and I can truly love it not not because I love it but because it’s here it’s it’s an experience I’m having and I’m actually not loving it. I’m loving the experience that I’m loving myself having the experience is what I’m trying to say. I’m loving myself having the experience then with all sincerity usually this imaginal child disappears.
And these children, you know, again, imagine all children that would come visit would visit me often, you know 10 20 years ago, they would come around very often in different shapes and forms. And these days, they don’t visit very often, to be honest, maybe once or twice a year maybe, if that.
And what’s interesting is that the children that used to visit are different than the children that visit now. And that’s, to me a reflection of the work that I’ve done is that those children that they used to visit the deep, dark, horrible depressions, I am not experiencing those. And if I do experience those, it’s like, they walk by the sidewalk and wave at me, like it might come in.
But then it goes away, like I had one day or two days, in the middle of the year, it was super, super, super dark. But that was such more situational that wasn’t just traditional mental health stuff. But even then, it didn’t last very long, I was able to recover from that really, really quickly. Because I’ve been practicing being with what is.
Be in a relationship with what you are experiencing
And so what I want to encourage you to do today is to go in, be with what you’re experiencing, get in touch with it, be in relationship with it, ask it, what it’s here for. What it needs you to know. Notice it, feel it, allow it. Be in relationship with it.
Be willing to let yourself have the experience you’re having deeply, sincerely in your heart. See what this needs from you. If it needs you to listen, or if it needs you to love, or it needs you to stand up, or to be powerful, or what what is here for you, whatever you’re experiencing is here for you.
In some way, shape or form, there’s an opportunity for you. And if we keep bypassing these opportunities and shoving them out the door, get away from me, I’ve got work to do. They’ll keep coming back, and it will get harder and harder until we completely burnout and they overwhelm us. That’s not the path forward being with what is is the path forward because it is the path that is most closely aligned with love.
And of course, as we know, love is all-ways the answer.
I hope you found this helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out. I’d love to hear your experience with this.
And if you need support with this, also let me know I’d be happy to work with you on this as well through really, really beautiful, deep and challenging process, especially to go through on your own. So let me know. Thanks.
So thanks so much for being here. May you experience more love, not less all-ways. Bye for now. SM 💜
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