Are you experiencing a lot of different emotions right now? I think we all are.
The continuing global pandemic/lockdown situation is unprecedented. There are real emotional and psychological ramifications. You might be feeling disappointed, helpless, frustrated, angry, anxious, scared or even just very irritable. (Small spaces, lack of privacy, homeschooling kids, excessive togetherness…it’s a lot!)
There is no wrong way to feel. And you still have choices about what you do.
Even though there are many things out of your control right now there are things you can do to understand, honor and support your emotional and mental health and pivot into a place of empowerment.
This week I’m walking you through six steps to process how you’re feeling. You can use them to bounce back and course correct any time you’re feeling overwhelmed with negative emotions.
You can also watch my video where I discuss this.
Step One: Honor and Acknowledge Your Feelings
No matter how you’re feeling, there is a part of all of us that has to mourn the way we thought our lives were going to be right now. That can look different for everyone.
Honor yourself by giving yourself permission to feel how you actually feel.
So many of us are experiencing disappointment, frustration, and anger because things we were looking forward to have been canceled, moved indefinitely or just aren’t going to happen. It can be so easy in the grand scheme of things for us to minimize our feelings and talk ourselves out of them by thinking things like, “well, I should be grateful for XYZ…” or “I shouldn’t feel this or shouldn’t be thinking this, etc. etc”.
Stop “should-ing” all over yourself.
Wherever you are right now, stop judging your feelings. Don’t try to bypass them. How you feel is completely valid. So how do we honor that?
You become an observer of your reactions, responses and of your own internal life. That means pressing pause long enough on Netflix to really turn inward and create some sacred space inside.
In this week’s downloadable guide, I’m giving you some journal prompts to help you tune into your internal experience. You can download that here now.
Journaling is such a powerful way to get what’s inside your mind out so that you can acknowledge it, honor it, and process it because only then will you have the space and bandwidth to make choices that can help you feel a different way.
As a psychotherapist, I believe in our human ability to choose to do something different that will positively impact how we respond and react to what’s happening in our lives right now.
Step Two: Be Mindful of Scapegoating
Many of us are sheltering in place, putting us in close quarters with a select few. In a previous blog, I gave you some New Pandemic Boundary Rules with a ton of helpful tips on how to coexist 24/7 harmoniously and you can check that out right here.
Feelings might be amplified right now, and I want to challenge you to be extra mindful of where you might be blaming or scapegoating other people for how you’re feeling. Are you displacing your disappointment, fear or anger? Can you raise your awareness of where you might be trying to micromanage the crap out of your current very close reality?
You might find yourself thinking, “Well if this person weren’t acting this way or doing this thing, I’d be just fine.” Can you take a step back and acknowledge that is not really true?
You are responsible for how you’re feeling, responding and reacting. If you can take that responsibility on, then you have the option and opportunity to learn and evolve from what you’re currently experiencing.
Inside the guide, I’m sharing a tool to help you uncover any secondary gain you might be getting from staying stuck in scapegoating, and you can grab that right here.
Step Three: Have Compassion for Yourself and Others
We’re not all going to be at our best right now. That’s a fact. We are under stress and doing the emotional heavy lifting of re-imagining our normal.
So just do the best that you can to have compassion for others and for yourself. I think one of the biggest takeaways from the last year’s experience is we are all coming to an understanding in a very tangible way that our actions are not just about us, they affect everyone. It’s an opportunity to feel more dialed into our undeniable connection to one another. Taking care of you is really taking care of me and vice versa.
Remember to be kind to yourself, because what’s been asked of you (and of us all) is a lot of big changes all at once, and the human mind is not psychologically wired for that to be an easy thing.
Find a balance between being present and having moments of escape (hi, Netflix, I see you) and have compassion for yourself and for the others in your life and across the world. We are in this together, people. That’s a fact.
Step Four: Take an Expectation Inventory
This is where we examine why your expectation of what would or should happen was not met. You can use this step to more clearly understand how you are feeling about sheltering in place and/or to decode the way you have dealt with past disappointments.
There are many reasons why we might have unrealistic expectations, so this is an important step in the pivot plan. Think about how you came to your expectation (that wasn’t met) and write it down. Were you hoping your partner was going to pitch in more with housework or cooking or with the kids so you could take a bath…but you never actually asked them?
Last week’s blog has some tools to help you set up new rules of engagement for the pandemic and you can check that out right here.
Step Five: Find the Gems
This step requires you to get your hands dirty by searching for your wisdom gems in the crap stew of unmet expectations, disappointments and other not so great emotions that might be coming up right now. This step is not to be confused with hyper-positivity or psychologically bypassing the hard stuff. You have a profound opportunity to more deeply understand yourself and when the time is right, I am encouraging you to take it.
Are there things that you have more space or time to turn your attention to that you normally would not have? What’s bringing you joy right now? What have you learned about yourself that you didn’t know before this whole global pandemic thing started?
In almost every crappy situation, there are gems of wisdom for your evolution, for your growth, essentially gems of information but you have to be willing to really go in there and search. Finding the gems in the crap speaks to how messy and beautiful and fabulous and scary as hell it is to be a human being. We are so many things and we are layered in our experiences, so don’t skip this step! Mine your feelings and experiences right now for what you can use to further evolve your beautiful, one-of-a-kind life!
Step Six: Keep On Keeping On
Are you willing to integrate what you learned through this process into your life, and use it as a way of growing and shaping a better future…or are you going to let the experience get you down and be nothing but a source of negativity?
Look for evidence of your strengths and unique gifts and use that as the fuel for your motivation to keep moving forward. If you have a tendency to focus on your weaknesses, take this opportunity to remind yourself of lived evidence of how brave you are, how strong you are, how loving you are and how capable you are. Make a list that champions your accomplishments big and small and keep taking positive action. You’ve got this.
I completely believe in the good in you. I believe in your capability to weather the storm with kindness and self-care. I am thinking about you. I am surrounding you with protective light.
I hope that this episode of The Terri Cole Show added value to your life. If it did, please share it on your social media platforms and with the people you love!
Know that you are not alone. If you need more help and support right now my team and I have personally vetted an online therapy service, Better Help, where you can talk to a licensed mental health professional right from the safety and comfort of your home. You can learn more about getting matched with the right therapist at Better Help right here.
Please let me know how you are. I always want to hear from you, so leave me a comment here or connect with me on Instagram @terricole or on Facebook here.
I look forward to hearing your power pivot stories!
So now and always, continue taking the very best care of you.
Terri Cole is a licensed psychotherapist, transformation coach, and an expert at turning fear into freedom. Sign up for Terri’s weekly Newsletter, check out her blog and follow her on Twitter.