I’ve been chosen as a confidant to two friends on opposite sides of the country, both going through devastating circumstances.
A complete upheaval of life as they knew it
A total obliteration of the future they once saw for themselves
In one situation, the source of the pain is physical. In the other, it is emotional. But in both cases, the lines between physical and emotional pain blur, impacting the whole of their being, despite where the pain originated.
And the worst part? They have to keep the pain of what’s happening to themselves… at least for now.
I know what it's like to go through something devastating that you can’t talk about.
And I know the one or two people who are chosen as confidants have been chosen with great care and trust.
The fact that I’ve been chosen by these two friends is one I do not take lightly.
When my friends describe what they are going through, I don’t pretend to know how they feel. Nobody but them understands what their situation feels like, so I listen and let them tell me what it’s like.
The importance of listening cannot be understated.
Listening allows a hurting person to process their feelings… to remember important facts that stress may have caused them to forget… to uncover answers inside themselves they didn’t know were there.
Listening to my friends process their experiences allows me to point out the protective, wise, healing things they are doing that they don’t even realize.
I find myself saying things like:
- You were so smart to prepare by __________________.
- When you decided to continue participating in that activity you love, you prioritized your needs. What a loving act of self-care.
- What strikes me as I listen to you is your capableness AND your ability to know when to ask for help.
- When you cope with the unexpected by ___________, you are providing a beautiful example for your kids.
- Did you notice how you are allowing yourself to feel what you feel without judgement or shame?
- You listened to yourself and held that boundary! That is huge!
I hadn’t really thought about why these types of responses felt both connective and helpful until I saw a video of author Brian Fretwell sharing a powerful exchange he witnessed.
Brian’s work in brain science leads him to bring people together to study the impact certain questions have on human connection.
In the video, Brian describes how a group member had just finished telling everyone about a horrible situation they were going through, and nobody knew what to say.
“After we asked, how are you doing and do you need any help, we all got quiet… until somebody leaned in and said, ‘In all of this that you are going through, what are you the proudest of doing?’”
Brian describes how the person began to recognize specific things she had done in the midst of the challenge. She became emotional, adding that it was the most helpful question she’d ever been asked.
Brian sums up the impact of the question by saying:
“Recognizing what she’d already done, made it easier to think about what she still had to do.”
After watching the video, I couldn’t stop thinking about The Question. For one, it solidified the approach I was taking to support my friends. But also, I could see how that question could lift someone out of a spiral of self-sabotage.
During an emotional struggle, we are more susceptible to negative thoughts and damaging internal messages taking hold.
I vividly remember the night our family crisis came to a head, and I grasped full understanding of how dire the situation was. Suddenly, the voice of my inner bully was louder than it had been in years.
This is your fault. How could you let this happen? You failed to protect her.
Although I’d become quite capable at identifying my self-sabotaging thoughts and shifting to them to impartial and compassionate statements, in this situation, I knew I’d need help.
“Is this my fault?” I cried to my wise and empathetic friend, Shannon.
“Rachel, you do not have superpowers; you couldn’t have possibly seen this coming,” Shannon assured. “But once you suspected something wasn’t right, you listened to that feeling and acted. Rachel, you are here now, and your child knows you are not going anywhere. That is what matters.”
It was through Shannon’s words that I recognized I had done something right – and listening to my gut instinct was something I needed to keep doing.
Through the months that followed, Shannon continued to be my chosen confidant. Talking to her allowed me to process information and gain clarity on difficult decisions. Shannon consistently reminded me to leave space, both in my healing process and in my book-writing process, an endeavor I was under contract to complete during this turbulent time.
Last week, a box of the finished product arrived on my doorstep.
“I think it’s your new book!” Scott said excitedly, setting the heavy cardboard box on the dining room table.
“Aren’t you going to open it?” he asked, as I stood there staring at it.
“I am not ready,” I stated, not exactly sure why, but trusting I’d know in time.
Over the next couple of days, I wondered. Would it hurt to open the book? Would it feel like reliving the pain?
On the fourth day, Avery and I were home alone when I knew it was time.
Avery gladly helped me open the box. She marveled at the book cover, the exquisite sketches inside, and the living map in the back of the book.
After taking some pictures, she went to do homework, leaving me with my book and the cat who never left my side while I wrote it.
Nestled between Banjo and couch pillows, I spent time with every page of the book. It was almost as if I was reading it for the very first time.
The specific ways I’d loved
and protected myself
were all there, speaking to me as if a friend was there beside me, pointing out my strengths.
“Look what we did,” I said to Banjo tearfully.
The shrewd look he gave me seemed to say, “Be for real, lady. You did all the work.”
Then ever so quietly, I heard myself speak.
“I’m proud of me.”
And then, even louder,
“I’m proud of me.”
Those words felt foreign to my lips; I don’t think I’d ever actually said them to myself.
That is when I thought of The Question:
In all of this that you have been through, what are you the proudest of doing?
The question was now mine to answer.
“I never gave up on her,” I said to myself without hesitation.
That is what my mom repeatedly pointed out to me throughout the crisis.
But while holding my finished book in my hands, I knew I wasn’t just referring my child; I was also referring to my inner Dreamer Girl. Since I was eight years old, my Dreamer knew there was a book inside me for weary humans questioning their ability to find their joy and inner peace.
And in time, they will fill the pages of Soul Shift with the most meaningful answers – the ones that comes from within.
Friends, we are just over ONE WEEK away from the release of SOUL SHIFT: The Weary Human's Guide to Getting Unstuck & Reclaiming Your Path to Joy. My beloved launch team has encouraged me to stress how important pre-orders are to helping our favorite authors and their books succeed. It also ensures you’ll get your copy if the book goes out of stock, which tends to happen in the first week if pre-orders are low. To thank you, I’ve created a beautiful pre-order bonus gift called the Self-Compassion Starter Kit, which helps you learn to identify self-sabotaging statements so you can shift to messages of self-compassion. I wrote and narrated the soothing audio series for you, which comes with a gorgeous affirmation poster worthy of framing. There is just one week left to claim this bonus gift. Simply pre-order the book (in any format) from your favorite retailer and enter the receipt number in the form on this page. A list of retailers (domestic and international) can also be found there. Currently, there are still some signed copies left.
BOOK TOUR NEWS
It would be my greatest joy to celebrate SOUL SHIFT’S entry into the world with you. Here’s what has been planned so far:
3/28 Virtual Book Launch Party – This will be held on The Hands Free Revolution Facebook page at 7pm Eastern. Those who order a signed copy from Premiere Collectibles can submit a question for Rachel to answer that night and will be entered in the drawing to receive one of Rachel's handmade care packages! Click here to pre-order your signed copy.
4/13 The Power of a Friend In-Person Event at Maven Space in Indianapolis, Indiana from 6 to 8pm. Includes a meet & greet. Click here for tickets.
4/15 Book Signing at the Shops at River Crossing in Indianapolis, IN from 2 to 4pm. Click here for information.
4/22 Book Signing at the Little Professor in Homewood, AL from 3:30 to 5:30pm. Click here for information (coming soon).
4/23 Book Signing at Fox Tale Bookshop in Woodstock, GA from 2 to 4pm. Click here for information.
Thank you for all the love, encouragement, & support. I couldn't do this without you.
My hand in yours.