EMOTIONAL DROP EXPLAINED
After all the emotional highs of a workshop, the return to normality can have a profound effect on participants. There can be a period of transition that offers even more growth space, but isn't always easy to deal with.
We call this ‘The Drop*’; the coming down, the return to what we have identified as 'normality'.
(*This term, and article was inspired by London Faerie, who is an expert in such matters and is acknowledged at the bottom of this page.)
It can happen quickly, or slowly. It can be a nice experience, or a bad one. And the effects, good or bad, can last almost no time at all, or they can go on for hours, even days.
I like to think of a surfing analogy - we ride a wave of experience - if it is profound the wave takes us high and we skilfully manage it when we pay attention, with presence, which happens in workshop spaces, where the participant is guided. When that guidance is removed we find ourselves somewhere near the crest of the wave and are left to our own devices to navigate the surge down the barrel and back to normality. If done with care this can be a beautiful experience, but if we don’t pay attention or are feeling wobbly this can be scary, painful or difficult to handle.
“The higher the wave goes, the deeper is the wake that follows it. One moment you are the wave, another moment you are the hollow wake that follows. Enjoy both – don’t get addicted to one.” - Osho
So here is a guide to dealing with the drop.
It helps to understand the mechanics: Dropping is the emotional and physical affects of the release and drop of endorphins in the body after an intense experience. The endorphins and other hormones released during the experience leave your body in such a way that it takes time to rebuild the balance of hormones in your system. Physiologically we can often feel that we have exposed some parts of ourselves (weakness/vulnerability) and that can unmask the hidden shame - the judgement that our weaknesses mean something deeper - that we will be seen as the small beings that we perceive ourselves to be. This emotes a fight/flight/freeze response, so feelings of anger, fear or sadness become prevalent and override our higher brain functions of rational thought. Brene brown talks about the thoughts she experiences in her 'Vulnerability Hangover.'
"Vulnerability is the most accurate measure of courage" (Brene Brown)
Drop can come in many different forms. Symptoms can include, but are not limited to:
REDUCTION / PREVENTION
These steps may reduce the chance of dropping.
A drop kit can be helpful to deal with feelings of loneliness, mental and physical exhaustion, confusion, insecurity and many other possible physical symptoms. It is important to take care of yourself during times of drop. This kit will put all the things necessary at your fingertips.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, please feel free to add your own personal selections.
WHAT TO DO WHEN DROPPING
Well, it's a possible reality, so let's discuss the best way to deal with it:
NOTICE YOUR THOUGHTS - VULNERABILITY
If you've just been in a space where you may have shared difficult things and learned new things about yourself it is often a big challenge to our sense of safety and identity.
We are all growing and it inevitably comes with some self doubts when we feel the discomfort. Take time to recognise the uncomfortable feelings and thoughts - give them space to settle and for the fog of stress to clear. Struggle and discomfort is an essential part of growth. Brene Brown realised this after her first TED talk as she says here.
WHY THIS IS ALL POSITIVE
We are always growing - whether we enjoy it or not. With practice it gets easier to enjoy. The more times we go in and out of spaces which stretch our comfort zone, the easier it becomes. The first few times are always hard - when we begin practice. Over time the mind and muscles become more supple and we can push ourselves further, do things with less effort.
We also learn what tools work for us - we learn about ourselves. For me, I like to make sure I connect with one or two of the people from the workshop afterwards, perhaps the day after and relive some of it. This is my strategy and it works for me, but it’s not for everyone. But you may have also triggered emotions that were caught up in an old memory (trauma) and it may be prudent to seek help if you are struggling. Click on the trauma link for advice.
This is important work - we must acknowledge that it is important for us to work on ourselves before we can really help others. So every time we spend some time in fantastic highs and uncomfortable drops we can see that we grow and we can also see that this will enable us to help others more in the future.Sometimes we plateaux for a while, but rest assured, the game will always be challenging - but without challenge life would be pretty dull!
I hope these tips help you to grow less painfully and with more acceptance and happiness
Love and hugs
As well as Brene Brown my biggest inspiration for this post is London Faerie, who created Sacred Pleasures - a place for authentic transformation, which includes working with sexual desires (Trigger Warning), so may not be suitable to view at work - but his article is available here.
Neil Morbey is a meditation teacher, group facilitator and inspiration guide for Positively-Mindful.com