Dear Fearful Ones,

I see you.  I am one of you.  Fear is now the most common feeling I connect with when I go outside and what I speak about with clients and loved ones.  The fear on others’ faces and in their hearts is real and so is this intense grief.  Grieving what we had, on top of an uncertain future, leads to fear.  Disconnecting from that feeling of grief is a part of why we are so fearful.  On top of grief there is real and unabashed fear.  The pandemic creates fear of hurting someone else or becoming sick ourselves.  Fear of what this means for the world and our society.  The world has now shifted, and we must shift with the world.  Freedom to do is now in an incredibly narrow box and we are not used to the freedom to be.

While interacting with the outside world I feel the atmosphere is tense and, at times, angry.  I’m learning to smile with my eyes (as my partner taught me) and attempt connection; even at a distance.  And, I also want to run and hide and not meet another person’s gaze.  All the feelings.  Allowing all the feelings to exist without deciding that each feeling must have an action.  If sadness is felt, we don’t need to make it go away and we don’t need to enhance feeling happy either.   We tend to medicate all the feelings with action.  Eat to celebrate and eat to help when sad.  Allow the feelings to be what they are; the information about what we are feeling in that moment and trust that the moment will end.  I have often said to people that we must lean into the feelings we are having rather than push them away.  The goal is to feel the feelings so that we don’t struggle with the struggle.  Force meets force, which means that we can learn to stop the tug-of-war with ourselves by ‘dropping the rope’ our monster holds.  This monster can be anxiety, shame or guilt, fear or self-loathing, etc.  While ‘dropping the rope’ isn’t simple it allows for freedom in a way that has healed me immensely.  Knowing that we have emotions we don’t want to feel is one way to warm up to the idea of allowing the feelings to just exist.  

There are seven core emotions that can often create an uncomfortable feeling when they appear within our bodies.  Those seven core emotions are: joy, sadness, fear, excitement, sexual excitement, disgust, and anger.  Once we feel one of these feelings we immediately shift towards anxiety, guilt, or shame.  Lately, I am hearing more people explore their shame, guilt, or anxiety and then immediately talk of medicating these away with exercise, drugs, food, alcohol, or other ‘tools’ used to keep us feeling as though we must do and not be.  

Attempt non-judgment when feeling feelings and allow them to be there without pushing them away or deciding they are wrong or bad.

As we watch the world change (and not change at the same time); the question we must consider is this:  Can we stay curious and hopeful?  When we take a moment to be with our feelings, acknowledge the part of us that is grieving, that misses touch, smells of others, the warmth of another emanating from them (ooo I am making myself swoon with the missing of friends and clients).  We tell this grieving part: “I see you and you’re right, this sucks”.  By allowing this part to speak there is room for movement of feelings, the nimbleness of feelings.  We don’t need to stay in this place of sadness and grief, but we can visit it and then soothe ourselves.   There is this belief that if grief or sadness or any of the core emotions are felt; we won’t be able to handle it, or it will last forever.  Attempt non-judgment when feeling feelings and allow them to be there without pushing them away or deciding they are wrong or bad.  Trust that your emotions can be felt and that you can listen to yourself grieve and it will feel validating.  This will allow you to have inner freedom and then just be who you need to be.  

The Covid-19 pandemic has created a wealth of information about self-care.  Work harder, work less, eat healthy, exercise, have a routine, let yourself do what you need to do, call friends, get a pet, don’t watch too much news, stay informed.  Teach your children, support your friends and family, keep working and this will end.  Take what works and leave the rest.  In order to be, to feel our feelings and think our thoughts, we need time.  This time can come in many forms.  When I am covered with garden dirt from head to toe someone might interpret this as me working hard.  But I feel calm and happy and I am being, not working.  Find your bliss.  Find your rhythm and move to that beat.  If you have the luxury of working from home; then make the pace work for you so that you can succeed and be as calm and happy as you can be.  I have advice too and that it is to listen to what resonates for you by finding your feelings and listening to their needs.  It allows for the calmness we need when things are hard and increases joy when life is at its’ best. 

Connecting to my true feelings helps me know and honor all the parts of myself.

The goal of managing feelings and connecting to them honestly is to have inner stillness.  We don’t do anything always and this practice of non-judgment and trust is no exception.  I do not aspire to not be anxious or not feel bad (or good) all the time.  I want relief and rest from the monsters that make me run, do and be busy.  I want to feel okay, good, happy, joyful, loved, and accepted, most of the time.  The practice of feeling my feelings and thinking my thoughts helps me get there.  Connecting to my true feelings helps me know and honor all the parts of myself.  Letting the rope drop gives me solace.  In order to allow more ‘being’ in my life and less ‘doing’. I take pauses and notice my thoughts and ask for those thoughts to step aside when they aren’t helpful.  The biggest change in my life from learning to acknowledge true feelings is that I don’t run for the nearest mechanism for soothing all the time.  Sometimes I drink, shop, eat, be lazy, etc. Other times I drown myself in work in order to push away what hurts.  And…I bring myself back, give myself acceptance and understanding.  Then practice some more.  How do you find your bliss?

Below are links to four articles that explain some of the concepts discussed in this blog.  I hope they help you as much as they have helped me.  

Right there with you

That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief
Tug of War with The Anxiety Monster
It’s Not Always Depression, Sometimes It’s Shame
Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting