If you follow my work you will know that I believe in the importance of FEELING your feelings, as the first step to connecting back to your natural state of peace, calm and joy.
That can be a tall order if you have spent a lifetime suppressing your feelings.
However, if we resist and deny our feelings of fear, anger, and frustration we also lose the ability to connect with our feelings of happiness, hope and excitement.
“We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions”
The problem is that if we haven’t learnt to express our emotions, we don’t realise that they are there for a purpose and we don’t want to feel them! It’s easier to push them away, ignore them or try to overlay them with ‘positive thinking’ (good luck with that one!)
Two of the emotions which I’ve noticed have been heightened during the past six months are disappointment and grief.
Left unacknowledged, disappointment can escalate into anger, frustration, and powerlessness, whilst denying grief can intensify into despondence, exhaustion and depression.
If you are able to work with these emotions, understand and move through them, it’s possible to reconnect with your natural state of calm, hope, fun and vitality.
So, what do disappointment and grief mean and what can you do to alleviate them?
Disappointment tells you that you had an expectation which didn’t turn out as you’d hoped.
For example, this year for many (including me) a long awaited and cherished holiday had to be cancelled!
My 60th birthday treat, was going to be a trip to Namibia in March. Ironically, it didn’t have to be cancelled because of Covid-19, but because Andy (my partner) broke his leg a month before we were due to travel (also the month before we went into lockdown). Initially I resisted my disappointment and looked for ways to ‘make it happen’. But when I allowed myself to feel the heaviness in my chest, I accepted and acknowledged that our holiday was not realistic, and I was able to reframe my vision and my whole body relaxed. As it turned out, due to Covid-19, we would have had to cancel anyway, and I was grateful that we already had our refund!
But soon after the relief of expressing my disappointment I was hit by another emotion. I felt sick in my stomach as I was overcome with grief.
Grief signifies the loss of something about which you have no choice. It could be the loss of a loved one, a job or the end of a relationship. Or perhaps the loss of our health through an accident or illness. Or we even experience the loss of a dream. Bam, this was it!
The first reason to express your emotions – it allows them to flow
I had to grieve the loss of the dream I’d had of waking up in Etosha National Park to the sound of elephants on my 60th birthday. Something I’d been looking forward to had been snatched away from me.
For a few days, despite my emotional awareness, I resisted my grief and pushed myself to ‘look on the bright side’ and atone myself with thoughts like ‘it’s not the end of the world’. And, of course, I was inundated with kind and positive well-meaning comments of others e.g. ‘Namibia will still be there next year’, designed to help me feel better.
Finally, the flood gates opened, and I allowed the tears to flow. I grieved the loss of spending my 60th birthday amongst the wildlife in Namibia, a dream I’d been treasuring for several years.
The second reason to express your emotions – once in flow you can reconnect with your natural state of calm
After releasing my tears, I felt peaceful and calm. I felt grateful that we had received our money back within days of our claim. I was better able to support Andy, who was coping with his own feelings of disappointment and grief, on top of the vulnerability and frustration of having a broken leg, not being able to work and having to spend copious amounts of time sitting still (which for a natural wanderer is very frustrating!!)
The third reason to express your emotions – when you feel good you have a positive impact on others
When we are able to acknowledge, express and process our emotions we return to our natural state of peace, calm and joy. One of the added benefits is that we then emanate this good feeling state out into our close relationships and our environment. Literally, by taking the time to ‘work through our stuff’ it can make a difference to all those around us!
“Everything we do, even the slightest thing we do, can have a ripple effect and repercussions that emanate. If you throw a pebble into the water on one side of the ocean, it can create a tidal wave on the other side.” Victor Webster
Are you coping well, but still feel drained?
During the past few months, I’ve heard many stories of disappointment and grief from my clients – loss of holidays, loss of loved ones, wedding plans cancelled, loss of business, the list goes one.
What is interesting is that many dealt with the practicalities of their situation in exemplary fashion and yet were left feeling drained, exhausted and despondent. They couldn’t understand why, when on the surface they had coped pretty well. It turns out it’s what was going on ‘under the surface’ which was causing their lack of contentment.
As each client began to understand their disappointment and reframe their vision and to release their grief on a visceral level, they began to feel better. They were able to see their situation from a new perspective.
Are you feeling frustrated or despondent? Take a moment to notice if you are feeling disappointment or grief and answer these questions!
You had an expectation of how something would turn out and it didn’t live up to your expectations.
How to move through disappointment
Ask yourself: – What did I expect to happen? Was it realistic? If so, what can I change to make it happen? If not, how can I reframe my vision?
If you suppress disappointment it can intensify into
Anger, frustration or powerlessness and you give up on your dreams.
The loss of something or someone (over which you have no control).
e.g. loss of a loved one, a job, a way of life, a relationship, health, or an old way of being.
How to move through grief
Ask yourself: – What must be released? What must be mourned?
And after “The healing water of tears remove the logjams in our psyches’ (Karla McLaren)
Then and only then ask yourself: – What can be appreciated and celebrated?
If you suppress grief it can intensify into
Despondence and depression
(N.B. Adapted version of the Emotional Message Chart written in The Power of the Herd: A Nonpredatory Approach to Social Intelligence, Leadership and Innovation by Linda Kohanov)
3 good reasons to ‘move through’ your emotions
- Feeling your feelings allows them to flow and release and your body can relax
- When you allow your emotions to flow, you connect with your natural state of peace, calm and joy – you feel good
- When you feel good you emanate those feelings out into your environment – and have a positive impact on all your relationships – with friends, family, work – and with your relationship to life itself.
“Let your contagious joy infect someone today.” Caroline Naoroji
Would you like to find out more?