Because Life Will Bump Into You

Towards the end of 2018, I made a pact with one of my dearest friends, Kevin, that we would only fill ourselves up and surround ourselves with the things that fueled our body, mind and soul in 2019. We were done with the negativity, the drama – and our complaining. So, we made a pact that 2019 would be different and that we would hold each other accountable.

2018 was a rough year – for both of us – and more and more each day we found ourselves complaining, pointing out what was wrong and what needed to change. And it was something we felt deep. We were tired. Beyond drained. Constantly on edge. And that wasn’t how we wanted to feel, or who we are, so seeing as how we had two more weeks of 2018 before we committed to the good stuff, we did what anyone does before a big ole commitment – we threw ourselves a party, a petty party.

Creating space for the new, meant getting rid of the old and that’s exactly what we decided the petty party (which we formerly called #dapettyparty) would be grounds for. It was one night and one night only to talk about the bullshit, the drama, the things we were over, the stuff we wanted to move on from – anger, resentment, complaints, hurts. In essence, it was a big verbal vomiting session where anything could be said and nothing was held back.

Let me tell you, there is something extremely cathartic about getting everything out. There’s something very freeing about saying what you’ve been bottling up inside, in an intentional and designed way, of course, because even the Petty Party has rules.

Whether it’s on a physical, emotional or mental level, purging allows us to get rid of the icky stuff – and when it comes to releasing the emotional stuff, purging is a tool that helps you break up with your narrative so you don’t stay stuck in what sucks.

Two Ways to Purge

If you’re feeling the strain of life and you’re holding onto things that are weighing you down, two of my favorite ways to purge are writing out “The Purge” and throwing yourself a Petty Party (not to be confused with a pity party. FYI, there’s no feeling sorry for yourself at your Petty Party. Just releasing and getting it out).

Both of these methods are intentional and they are designed, meaning that you aren’t just bitching about what you don’t like. There’s a process of letting go – and a self-reflection piece so you aren’t just spiraling back into the cycle of what you are trying to get away from.

Writing out the Purge

Writing out the Purge is a method I’ve used numerous times over the last 7 years from my coaching with the Handel Group. Lauren Zander, creator of the Handel Method describes a purge like this,

“A purge is when you write down everything that is upsetting and frustrating you in a stream of consciousness. And I mean everything. From what pisses you off about a coworker, online dating sites, your commute, your career, your tween, the economy, to the gluten-free frenzy.

A purge is about letting out every last part of the narrative you have in your head. In all its detailed detritus. Because until you get that very last thing that is running rampant in your head out of your head and onto paper (or your iWhatever) the entire saga feels real.

…What gets unearthed in a purge is the very thing you need to step back, see, figure out, and change. It’s the very thing that’s stopping you, haunting you, and keeping you stuck.  But, until you unearth is, you can’t change it.”

Step 1: Write Out the Purge

Let it be messy and unfiltered. Get it all out.

Step 2: Step Back

Reread what you wrote and try to identify the common denominator – what’s stopping you from taking action? Why are you complaining about the same things? What in you needs to change? When you can take a step back from the story, you can take out the emotion that makes the narrative so strong and from there you can take actions toward change.

Step 3: Make the Change

Once you decide what needs to change (i.e. I need to stop surrounding myself with people who complain all the time, or, I need to have a difficult conversation with my boss), make a promise that holds you accountable to the change you wish to create. Get someone on board who you can check in with, or post daily about the change you’re making so you can take action one day at a time.

Da Petty Party

Throwing yourself a Petty Party follows the same rules as writing out the Purge, with a couple of caveats:

Addendum 1: Make sure whomever you are inviting is trustworthy and understands the boundaries of the Petty Party. Nothing that is said at the party leaves the party.

Addendum 2: Establish the ground rules for a safe space, meaning anything can be said that you need to let go of and it’s a judgement free zone.

Addendum 3: Each person gets the floor to vent about whatever they need. No discussion is needed and in fact it’s encouraged to just let the person have the floor and vent. The goal is to let the person have their verbal purge and not to create more drama (or a pity party) by everyone chiming in. After each person goes, hold a moment of silence. It’s like a quiet nod to what you’re done with.

Addendum 4: Once it’s out, it’s out. It’s a one night only event and once you get it out at the party, the promise is that you do not get to rehash it to your best girl/guy pal a week from now. The reason for that is to stop the narrative, whatever story you’re telling around the event. Most often, once we give voice to what’s bothering us, whatever it is we’re holding inside, it relieves some of the pressure we’ve been building up.

The major difference between the two methods is writing it out literally helps you step back and see whatever narrative you’ve been telling. With the Petty Party, that’s the post-party work you’ll have to commit to on your own so you don’t go back to the same cycles and stories. Just know that both methods aren’t mutually exclusively, but if the work of purging is newer to you, writing it out is the easiest route to start with.

The biggest revelation to come out of this experience of having our own Petty Party was the awareness of just how much crap I was filling myself up with daily. Up until the Petty Party, I hadn’t realized just how much anger, hurt and resentment I was carrying in 2018. It was no wonder that every little thing set me off, that even the tiniest of things would shake me and whatever was inside – the anger, the hurt – would just spill out.

Thich Nhat Han, a Vietnamese Buddhist Monk recounts this analogy beautifully:

One day a man was walking down the street with a cup of hot coffee, hurriedly and frantic on his way to see his teacher. He was running late and beyond stressed when another man bumped into him spilling his hot coffee onto his hand.

The man roared, “Did you not see me?! Look where you are going! You have spilled my hot coffee onto my hand!!”

The other man apologized, being so caught up in his own thoughts, he did not see the man with the hot coffee.

But the man with the hot coffee had no time for such talk, he was already late to see his teacher and so he continued on his way. When he finally arrived at his teacher’s, he explained why he was late, recounting the story of his hot coffee.

The teacher asked, “What spilled out of the cup?”

The man replied, “The hot coffee.”

“And, why did you spill the coffee?” asked the teacher.

“I told you,” said the man, “Because that man bumped into me!”

The teacher sat for a moment in silence and then asked, “If there had been tea in your cup, what would have spilled out?”

“Well, tea, of course,” said the man.

“Ok,” said the teacher, “What if juice had been in there?”

“Juice,” said the man.

“You see,” said his teacher, “It’s what’s in the cup that spills out when the cup is shaken. It’s not about not having life or people bump into you. That will happen. It’s about what is inside your cup when life shakes you up, because whatever is inside will come out.”

It was then the man understood the work that had to be done and from that day he began to fill his cup with love, compassion, gratitude and joy.

The bumping is simply the catalyst to reveal what we’re holding inside

It’s the wake-up call to ask: What’s inside my cup? What do I need to deliberately pour out and what do I need to consciously pour in?

Do you spend your mornings rushed, yelling at kids to get out the door, irritated and nagging your spouse? Are you gossiping with coworkers or complaining all day?

Whatever you’re putting in, that’s what’s going to come out.

This week, I invite you to clear the space and purge what needs to go and to fill your cup with something different so that when life bumps into you, as it inevitably will, what pours out is gratitude, kindness, forgiveness, understanding and joy.

Filling Your Cup

Add Positivity To Your Day

I love reading books and listening to podcasts to fill my mind and spirit. They give me inspiration and a fresh perspective on the days I might be feeling less than ideal (by the way, podcasts are free, so there’s no reason to not to jump on and listen in).

What’s on my reading list:

My Favorite Podcasts:

Get Moving

You don’t have to run a marathon (and you sure as hell won’t see me running one any time soon), but exercise is shown to literally make you feel good. Exercise gives you endorphins and endorphins make you happy. So, whatever you are doing – walking, running, yoga, studio classes – schedule it in. And make time for yourself to move. Just 10 minutes a day can transform your mindset.

Surround Yourself With The Right People

It’s said that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. And, listen, I get it. We don’t always get to “choose” who’s in our life. There’s certain non-negotiables like your in-laws or siblings or coworkers that you can’t exactly “divorce”; but, you do get to decide how much of your time and attention they get.

Surround yourself with people who are aligned with the same values, who are working towards something, who are fighting for something bigger than themselves – the kind of people who light your soul on fire and when you leave their presence you feel energized and alive.