Feeling Inside Out and Upside Down? Feel All the Feels (Episode 141)
Even subtle losses in life can trigger a sense of grief. We're feeling all the feels at this present moment. Right now, emotions are all over the place as people navigate unknowns, modified schedules (or lack thereof), and loss. Lots of loss. Whether you’ve lost a loved one, your job, or simply the sense of security, the big eye-opener is that we are now in a situation where everyone is navigating change together. So how do we cope, and do more than simply survive?
When life feels...too much, start with one feeling.
The Range of Emotions
We’re going to talk emotions today – navigating the big feelings that may be going on in your home – in your kids, in your partner, and most critically – within.
We are multi-faceted. There are so many emotions and complexities out there, and oftentimes they bubble to the surface even more when we are hit with something unexpected.
We're in a season of extreme change in our country, and it's bringing forth quite a myriad of different reactions in people. It feels a bit chaotic, and it can be hard enough to navigate it in your own head and heart, not to mention how that creates a ripple effect for your whole family.
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What Causes Grief and Loss?
What things cause grief and loss? While it's easy to default to the death of a loved one, grief and loss can also be experienced during events like:
- A conflict or breakup of a relationship
- A diagnosis or disability
- Loss of a job
- Health issues
- A miscarriage
- Moving, or a child leaving home
- A big change, like a move
- Death of a pet
- A loved one's serious illness
- Loss of a cherished thing or dream
- Loss of safety after trauma
The list could go on and on. The point here is not to pinpoint all the things that "should" cause you grief, but to convey how many things are realities of life that can send people into grief. It could simply be that our emotions go haywire not from grief or anything unwanted, but simply too much change at once.
Grief & Mindset
In an article on coping with grief and loss, it stated that,
Whatever your loss, it’s personal to you, so don’t feel ashamed about how you feel, or believe that it’s somehow only appropriate to grieve for certain things. If the person, animal, relationship, or situation was significant to you, it’s normal to grieve the loss you’re experiencing. Whatever the cause of your grief, though, there are healthy ways to cope with the pain that, in time, can ease your sadness and help you come to terms with your loss, find new meaning, and eventually move on with your life.
The Stages of Grief
Again, taken directly from the grief article,
In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced what became known as the “five stages of grief.” These stages of grief were based on her studies of the feelings of patients facing terminal illness, but many people have generalized them to other types of negative life changes and losses, such as the death of a loved one or a break-up.
- 1Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
- 2Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
- 3Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
- 4Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
- 5Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”
If you are experiencing any of these emotions following a loss, it may help to know that your reaction is natural and that you’ll heal in time. However, not everyone who grieves goes through all of these stages—and that’s okay.
Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to go through each stage in order to heal. In fact, some people resolve their grief without going through any of these stages. And if you do go through these stages of grief, you probably won’t experience them in a neat, sequential order, so don’t worry about what you “should” be feeling or which stage you’re supposed to be in.
Kübler-Ross herself never intended for these stages to be a rigid framework that applies to everyone who mourns. In her last book before her death in 2004, she said of the five stages of grief: “They were never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages. They are responses to loss that many people have, but there is not a typical response to loss, as there is no typical loss. Our grieving is as individual as our lives.”
"Negative" Emotions Have Merit
We have to process our healing individually. Different emotions will crop up, and oftentimes if you are stuck in a perceived negative emotion, pay attention to what lesson you may learn. It may be you are learning how to navigate your anger, so the universe has offered you lots of little opportunities to be angry and work through it. It may be that sadness keeps reminding you of its importance until you choose to embrace that and sit with it before it can be let go.
The Myths about Grieving and Emotions
There are many myths about how you're "supposed" to feel. Yet time and time again, it boils down to emotions being like a fingerprint; they are unique to each individual and processed in a different way.
Myth: The pain will go away faster if you ignore it. Right - suppression is a great way to invite an eruption.
You need to be strong in the face of loss. Crying does not equal weakness. Sometimes admitting your own vulnerability is what enforces in another that it's okay to feel. You can be positive while also being honest with your own emotions and vulnerability as well. It shows true authenticity and humanity.
If you don't cry, you don't really feel loss. We all experience things differently. And there is major growth in allow ourselves to experience all the feels. Not to force them; they will crop up as sure as we are human beings. But recognize that a cry may be most needed for one whereas an hour at a punching bag may be a better outlet for another.
If you're feeling trapped in your head and your emotions, sometimes the best way to reset is literally getting physical. It's getting out of your head and heart and into physical movement and your body. Activity allows your mind and body to get busy, and sometimes can start those processing wheels turning on the emotions you may be experiencing.
It Feels from the Inside Out
This week we watched "Inside Out" again. It gets me every time, and was super helpful for us to watch as a family. I highly recommend this - it's a girl going through change...not only with a move to a new state, but also as adolescence comes into play and her emotions start to get more complex.
It's worth a watch, and I'll leave it at this - ALL emotions are valid. They may not all be helpful all the time, but each one has merit and is needed, and as we grow and mature, we can see how things like joy and sadness can both be experienced at once.
Sometimes, in our effort to "help" someone, we rush to fix it. We say things like, "Don't cry!", "You're fine/okay", or "Toughen up!"
But do we know they shouldn't express that emotion? Do we know entirely that they really are okay?
Create space - for you, your partner, your children - to feel. To really allow yourself to feel, and to allow yourself to heal.
Suppression is a surefire way to invite an explosion. Feel all the feels - emotions aren't going to go away, so it's important we learn to navigate them. ALL of them.
I can talk for days about mindset and working through emotions. Yet I recognize there are many people out there who need more support than that. This is a time where all crises can rise to the surface - all emotions and situations can be magnified, and mental illness, abuse, suicide and more can be a dark place for many.
If feeling the full range of emotions feels a bit too much for you, seek help. There are others who's mission in life is to be there and help people just like you to navigate through this...and often times, they do because they've been there, too.
There is an outpouring of support out there. Here are a few:
- Struggling with fear/anxiety about coronavirus? Here is a text line to connect with a crisis counselor
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline - We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
- Here are 13 suicide and crisis intervention hotlines to call or text when you need help
- NAMI Helpline (National Alliance On Mental Illness)
- I am not positioning myself as an expert on mental health, abuse, etc. There are many amazing professionals to help. However, if you're stuck in a mindset that isn't helping you, you aren't really needing a counselor as much as guidance to get you where you want to be in your life, I'm here for you. I always talk with potential clients first, have them fill out a coaching application, and we discuss the coaching package (or customization) that fits their needs and budget before any agreement is made. So if you're curious what that looks like, you can fill out the coaching application here and we can chat.
Express Your Feelings in a creative and tangible way
It may be through journalling, writing a letter - to yourself or someone else, that you may or may not send, or maybe you dance it out.
For our girls, before they could write, we'd give them opportunities to draw out their emotions - sometimes in angry scribbles, throwing paint on a canvas, or anything that fosters creative expression. Sometimes your best creativity comes from a complex emotion you sit in. Great things can still come out of anger, sadness, fear and more.
Find comfort in routines and things you love
Who we are is magnified in times of stress. That means both the good, and the not so great. We choose to magnify the things that bring positivity in. We've added in things like:
- The Calm App (or finding daily meditations that are easy to access to pull up at any time - I love this one for all of the features for kids and adults
- Yoga/Pilates/workout videos
- Dance-alongs with the girls - sometimes with a youtube video, sometimes just with music, and sometimes with grandparents
- The Wim Hoff Breathing Method - made it to FOUR minutes today!
When we go through something like the "opportunity of grief", it allows for an element of "spring cleaning" that helps you reevaluate what you really want to bring to the forefront in your life, and what may be time to let go of.
This may be a great time to add in a self-help practice that helps you right now, and also would be great to have in your toolbox for the future. Self help practices don't just end up completely forgotten. Just like riding a bike, it gets easier to get back on the more you do it.
So even if you lost your meditation practice years ago, now may be a time where it comes back to you faster and is exactly what you need for your own mental health during this season.
Some additional resources for you
- It’s the end of the world…as we know it (Episode 138)
- Don’t Stress Education; Let Them Play (Episode 139)
Your Weekly Challenge:
Feel all the feels. It's okay to have a variety of emotions going on. It's okay to not be Susie Sunshine all the time. Watch the movie "Inside Out". Talk about emotions with your family, and ask each one how they are processing different emotions right now.
Give space and time to let each person in your family process - it might not all be on your timeline.
We are all coming at this season from different perspectives. Allow the ones in your life to process their emotions, and set the example for them by creating the space to allow yourself to process emotions as well. The uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us.