I write to you today from within my feeling of sadness. This space makes me think of the Pixar movie “Inside Out” and the little girl, Riley, whose family moved cross country leaving behind her friends and the way things were. Her parents and even her insides, kept focusing on joy. Finding more joy, being joyful and making the most of this. They all thought that’s what she needed to feel better.
Perhaps there are so many new possibilities ahead, but ahead is not where we live. If we’re present, we live in the only thing we have – Now. Riley’s inner world was crumbling as her other emotions scrambled trying to keep her from feeling sad. But her sad was very real and knew the chance to feel that fully was what she most needed.
I’m an optimist, poet, positive thinker, and support people in finding ways to optimize their life. For weeks, okay years, I’ve been the look at the bright side, find the hope, rally the good type kind of person, but now I see that, like Riley, my sadness knows my truth. I’ve learned the tough way that overriding my own truths has a wicked kickback. So this morning I sat with my sad and listened.
First, she helped me list the many reasons why sad was demanding my attention.
My list is personal- capturing the many losses of plans, connections, big life events cancelled like a college graduation and missing out on wedding planning, hugs and dinners with our adult children, and on and on.
My list is global- I truly ache to my core as we navigate a pandemic like no one alive has ever experienced. My sadness is also for our earth who teaches us more about how we’re all interrelated.
My list is for the suffering- those who’ve died alone or will, those brave souls who care for the sick, and those working tirelessly to help make sense of this insanity.
So I ask her, my sadness, what she needs from me. With that question, my breath expands and drops deeper. She needs me to let her be seen and heard. So do all the many other feelings scrambling for light in this darkness.
The news says the worst is yet to come. How are we to navigate messages like that? For me, I’m checking in with all of me- mind, body, and spirit- but my body especially because it offers a compass to help me see where I’m spinning or stuck.
Our bodies are under threat. There are no bomb shelters for novel viruses, but there is shelter and wisdom within that can help guide us through.
Taking time throughout the day to check on our insides and really listen for the state of their union will help us stay present. Where I hold tension perhaps there’s fear, anxiety, or anger. When I can’t sleep, I can make a list of everything running through my mind and look at it in the light of day. Where my breath gets taken away, I can ask why. There are so many clues within to help us better navigate this incredible marathon we’re in with no defined finish line.
What emotions might be asking to be noticed? That’s mostly what they need, just for us to listen so they can be seen and heard. Scared needs to say so before it can settle down. Anxiety can’t be silenced without consequence. And when these emotions have us gripped too tight, ask for help. Family, friends, ministers, therapists, prayer, etc.- asking for support and help is one of the best gifts we can receive right now.
This time in our existence has come to teach. The lessons will change us all in some way. For now, I’m spending the day with my sadness because she’s been pushed aside for too long.