I was feeling some pain in my chest. When I slowed down to really explore what was going on with a friend’s support, I realized that my heart was hurting from all the pain in the world. For us caring types, it’s like that – we feel a lot. Sometimes what we feel is ours and sometimes we’re carrying pain for others because they’re not able to. We live in challenging times and understanding how to navigate the minefield that is the full range of our current experiences is now becoming part of the terrain.
I had a different newsletter planned for today. I was going to share a good news celebration note. Then the war broke out in Israel. A community I’m involved with has been going through some upsetting turmoil, angst and reckoning. And the climate crisis and environmental dislocations are continuing unabated. Finally, Indigenous People’s day reminded me of the opportunity to honor those who have taken care of our land through the power of living in harmony with nature. Somehow it seemed important to communicate a different message.
How can we hold all the sadness, madness, anger and fear arising for us on an almost daily basis? How do we show up for those we love, our work and ourselves when we are barraged by constant issues that bring up lots of complex feelings to be resolved? Can we find a way through seemingly intractable difficulties? Being with all this ambiguity requires a high level of self-awareness, spaciousness and grace in how we treat ourselves and others.
Doing the Inner Work
To show up fully, we must take exquisite care of ourselves. And that starts with recognizing and honoring our hearts. Our hearts are strong and powerful, yet they require tenderness and love. Checking in with ourselves to see what we need in the moment. Here are some of the possibilities…
- We cry to release the sadness
- We scream or punch pillows to express our rage and frustration
- We feel numb because we can’t access what we really feel when it seems too overwhelming
- We go out for a walk in nature to take a break, get away and ground ourselves
- We write to productively channel for our thoughts
- We pray – for those we love, those that hate and the state of the world
- We talk about what we’re feeling so we don’t have to hold it all in
- We allow ourselves to be vulnerable when we would rather shut down
- You fill in the blank
These are just some examples of the many ways that we need to move through complexity. Sometimes we must move through the body to find a healthy outlet and avoid getting stuck. By honoring ourselves, connecting with our thoughts, emotions, bodies and spirit. While we often live in our heads – after all work is a place of the mind. We can’t let our professional selves take over at the expense of personal selves and our feelings which run deep.
We’re not taught to make space for emotion. In fact, it’s actively devalued in many arenas. I know this from my work experiences where crying was out of the question and considered weak. And in my family where emotionality was equated with “being too sensitive,” to be avoided at all costs. Well, the truth is that we are all sensing creatures and we respond to energy. Our feelings are the expression of our needs.
Right now we are feeling the overwhelm of the unprocessed feelings of others. It’s coming out in very harmful, hurtful and unhealthy ways through the polarization and animosity we experience everywhere we look.
Love is the antidote to hate. Connection is the response to disengagement. Courage is the way to counteract fear. How can we find these nobler truths within ourselves? By creating space to sit with the discomfort of difficult emotions.
Believe me, I’d love to run away and live in a cabin in the woods and avoid all pain and suffering. Wait, I tried to do that already. Sadly, it didn’t work. We are creatures of the world and we need to find a way to be present with all that arises. Not because we want to deal with all the sh*t that’s going on, but because we’re here for a bigger purpose – to bring our gifts and make an impact.
I find many Buddhist practices inspiring for showing us a way through. For those who are unfamiliar with the Loving Kindness Meditation, here’s a tool you can use to help ground and center yourself. This reminds us to share positive thoughts around happiness, health, safety and ease with ourselves and others. It is a thoughtful, caring and heart-centered way to find inner peace and then radiate this beautiful energy out to others through mindfulness.
So if you, or someone you know, is going through pain, sadness, suffering or anxiety, connect with your heart and the power of LOVE. Be patient with yourself and them. Know that while we all may feel frail at times, we are actually stronger than we realize. And we also can’t do this alone. Reach out for support. Create the space to let yourself feel and connect with others.
If you would like more support for your own process, I am here to hold sacred space for whatever you are needing to explore. While my focus is often on professional growth, I’m most interested in how we can show up fully as ourselves. Increasingly this involves doing our personal growth work. Please reach out to connect and learn more.
Sending you love and kindness,