Feelings – When you just have to scream…
When you have a job like mine – which is all about helping people feel better – it’s easy for people to think I’m all about feeling happy. Irritatingly happy. All. The. Bloody. Time.
So hold the front page, I’m here to tell you, that’s not the case, even for me, and neither should it be. Life, of course, is all about the ups and the downs too, it’s about challenges as well as celebrations. And this week, I had to remind myself of something really important…
My partner Annie lost a very beloved rabbit a few days ago. Jessie was a beautiful creature, with fawn patches including a circle around her eye that made her look like a version of that practical joke where you put ink around the end of the telescope. She was living indoors in anticipation of moving outdoors with the other rabbits as the weather improved. In the meantime she spent her days in a large dog crate with lots of toys and most evenings running and jumping around the lounge in a very entertaining way. Then on Saturday, for no apparent reason, she keeled over, so we rushed her to the emergency vets but to no avail and she died within the hour. It was such a shock and she was such a joyful, energetic sweet thing that seemed so full of life, we both cried on and off all day.
Humans are messy
Any grief, whether for a person, a pet, the end of a relationship or any kind of loss, tends to come in waves. Have you noticed that even at the saddest times, you can’t be sad non-stop? We feel the deepest, most painful sadness, then for a while we might feel numb, then disbelief, we maybe feel anger at the unfairness. And then the grief washes over us again. This process might make us feel a little crazy, unbalanced or out of control. But it’s not something to be suppressed, denied or ignored, it’s actually a completely natural reaction. It’s part of the messiness of human beings and is perhaps the very thing that makes us human. Over time, the moments between the waves gets a little longer and eventually we return to something resembling normal. Actually we experience a ‘new normal’ because things will never be quite the same again but it gets a little easier.
What I needed to remember
The important thing I needed to remember, and I hope it might be useful for you too, is that throughout challenging times we can notice extreme negative feelings without losing sight of everything else. It’s possible after the initial shock and a few rounds of those crazy waves to ‘watch’ the feelings knowing that they don’t define you.
And here’s the weird thing that seems counter-intuitive: when we try and suppress feelings they get stuck and we can end up carrying them round like badges. Then they get triggered by things we see or things people say, we can get upset at inconvenient moments and end up believing we are at the mercy of our feelings. Alternatively, when we acknowledge feelings and allow ourselves to express and work through them, we are more able to see them for what they are; temporary and natural and not a measure of who we are. A scream held in can seem so much louder and longer than one you allow to be released into the wild!
A natural balance
I hope that whenever you hear about positivity you know that we all have to keep it real for it to work. That it’s not about pretending everything is ok all of the time. It’s about knowing that whatever stuff hits the fan, it doesn’t define you. And that if you need to scream, cry or shout, you don’t need to push it down and end up carrying it around. You need to find the perfect spot and let rip. And then let it go.
Acknowledge what you’re feeling.
It’s a feeling, it’s not who you are.
Let it flow, let it go.
Here’s to a week filled with spring moments, unexpected flowers blooming and glimpses of warm sunny days. I wish you happiness, and in the meantime, I wish you hope. Tomorrow is a whole new landscape.