I was speaking with one of my clients earlier this week about what it feels like inside when her fear of abandonment gets triggered. I listened to her closely as she described an experience of psychological, physical and emotional discomfort and suggested naming this experience as “meeting her edge.” “NO!” she said, the word “edge” didn't nearly describe deeply enough the phenomenon of being pushed to her internal limit. So - again I listened and this time carefully chose my words “YES,” I said “what I am am talking about is your Oh My God, holy shit, mother fucking edge.” “YES” she said, That’s it!”
We all have an edge.
Anyone who is in recovery, in therapy, is part of a secure functioning relationship, or is building awareness in their life is engaged in meeting their edge and I want to talk about this as a brave and rewarding thing to do!
When I talk about meeting our edge, I am talking about meeting the place inside that feels hard and hot and sharp. I am talking about the place inside that says, “I can’t take it anymore” or “I’m going out the window.” I am talking about the place inside that feels so rough, bleak and unworkable that we throw up our hands ask with pointed desperation, “who is to blame?” I am talking about the experience inside of feeling persecuted, dejected, grotesque and/or completely fed up.
We all have this place.
What do I mean by meeting my edge? I am talking about cultivating curiosity and compassion in the face of our edge.
I meet my edge in my work, with my partner, in my twelve step group, in my family and in my relationship with myself. It may come with feelings of anger, fear, jealousy, shame or boredom. When it comes up, I can sometimes think I am fundamentally not OK or not enough. My brain will tell me that as a therapist and having done all these trainings and practices I definitely should “be better than this.” Ouch! This kind of self talk is a clue that we are meeting our edge - our mind will say emphatically, “THIS SHOULDN'T BE HAPPENING.”
It is a lie. It should be happening and I want to help you deal with it with as much compassion and awareness as you can muster. Sooner or later we will all meet our edge wether it is in an argument, in response to a loss or just sitting on a meditation cushion. We have an edge because we are human - not because we are bad or “unspiritual.” I experience profound benefits from meeting my edge and use the experience as an opportunity do develop as a person, a partner and as a therapist.
10 major benefits of meeting our edge:
- Meeting my edge fosters growth, insight and transformation.
- Meeting my edge helps me remember that this is MY EDGE. It is not caused by a person, place or thing.
- Perhaps most importantly, in meeting my edge I can begin to be compassionate with myself.
- In meeting my edge I can drop the blame game, drop the story and get busy bringing some desperately needed softness, friendlessness, spaciousness and warmth to my edge.
- When I meet my edge I can build some empathy and recognize that everybody has an edge and see first hand how difficult it is to meet.
- If we can meet our edge, we do not have to compulsively avoid it by acting out or numbing out.
- Every time I meet my edge and do not act out verbally or physically I rewire my brain for love rather than war.
- Every time I meet my edge and I do not numb it with drugs, alcohol, food, sex or work I develop precious tolerance and self - compassion.
- Meeting our edge makes it possible for those in recovery to stay sober/abstinent.
- For those seeking to develop or deepen secure functioning relationships, meeting our edge is essential, unavoidable and allows us to “grow not go.”
Meeting our edge is an opportunity to grow. I want to support each of us in meeting our edge with a sense of purpose, acceptance and compassion.
The first step is recognizing and accepting that we all have an edge and getting honest with ourselves when we are meeting it.
10 tips to help you meet your edge:
- Wake up to what is happening and say “I am meeting my edge right now.”
- Breathe Breathe Breath Breathe. Keep breathing.
- Rub the palms of your hands together to create some heat and then place your toasty palms on the part of your body that feels your edge. For me it is usually my heart or my face. Focus on the sensation of warmth pouring into that part of your body. Breathe deeply as you focus on the sensation of your palms meeting your clothing or your skin.
- Dialog with your edge. Sit your edge down and say “Ok edge, I am listening, what do you want to say.”
- Do some writing as your edge, let it out, breathe and listen.
- Do some artwork: What color is your edge, what does your edge look like?
- Ask for help. Call a friend, say a prayer, go to a meeting, reach out to a therapist or mentor.
- Say to yourself, “Everyone has an edge, I am enough as I am.”
- Stop acting out, arguing or blaming yourself or another person for your discomfort.
- Take some time to “come down.” Whatever you are wrapped up in does not need more attention, to be resolved or “figured out” no matter what your brain is telling you - that is just the chemistry talking!
Most importantly, remember that there is something beyond the edge. The edge is a precipice to love. Although our edge can feel like “the end of the world” beyond that edge is love and insight. I support you in meeting your edge and opening to that love - I will be here however falteringly, doing the same practice. XO