Aimee Innes, MA, LMHC
Let It Be Weird
Updated: Oct 17, 2019
Making personal changes can put you in a strange inner state but that doesn't mean something is wrong.
I want to share this theme because it comes up a lot in my work. No matter what personal change you are trying to make, there is this period of weirdness that creates an uneasy internal state. Our natural leaning is to avoid discomfort so it makes sense that it is easier to fall back into old habits and not make or stick with the change.
When I explore, "what would happen if you (didn't over function for your friend or family member, didn't eat the thing you're trying to stop eating, say no to that person, go to bed early, etc.)," the response is usually something like, "I will feel bad," or, "it would feel really uncomfortable." When I pursue it further and ask what would happen then, the answer is almost invariably, "I don't know. I would just feel weird."
Can you imagine just letting it be weird?
Ask yourself right now what is the worst thing that will happen if you just feel weird about something for a bit. Maybe you are tired of saying yes to a friend when you really mean no and you're worried saying no will make your friend angry with you (even though you know they won't be). So, you decide to try it once and just let it be weird. Breathe, stay in your body, say to yourself, "this is so weird," and just let it be that way.
Holding weird feelings takes practice
Think about times in your life when you tried something new and were just not very good at it. You pick up a guitar for the first time and are convinced you have to have some kind of distorted fingers to make it work. You go in deep water for the first time and sink. You try knitting and it's a disaster of dropped stitches. It feels weird.
Eventually, with practice, it gets less weird because you have figured out how to soothe yourself through the weirdness. You stay in practice, with kindness, and keep trying until you get it.
Try this exercise...
Imagine the situation you wish to change and the way that you would feel if you did what you've been wanting to be able to do. Let it evoke the weirdness. Now, take a deep breath. As you exhale, feel your "middle" (tummy, core, belly, whatever term you prefer here). Feel the sensation of calm happening. (Find the physiology of this process here). As you do this, say to yourself, "let it be weird."
Now, try it in real time with a real situation. Perhaps start with a situation that is low on the weirdness scale for you (for example: changing an old habit). Remind yourself that the weird feeling is a reassuring sign that your nervous system is working. The body senses something is off and wants you to be more aware so it sends out a signal. The issue is not that it is misfiring, the issue is that you have not practiced how to take care of yourself in this kind of weird situation and you need practice.
It can be difficult to decipher what is an actual internal alarm and what is just the discomfort of uncharted emotional territory
Don't ignore physical threats to your integrity. When you ask yourself about the worst possible outcome, it's important to honor valid threats. If you or someone you care for could be physically harmed, honor that. Start simple and build. If you find it is hard to decipher actual threats from discomfort, consider talking with a therapist or counselor.