Feeling All the Feelings and Living Through It.
This is not a blog on politics.
Since my last post referenced the political climate of our country, I thought I should mention it. This isn’t a blog about politics.
This is a blog about life. It’s a blog about relationships, locally and around all world. And it just so happens that all that stuff is a little soaked in politics right now.
At least where I live. You?
Okay, now that I’ve got THAT off my chest, let’s pause to acknowledge the up side of all this political mud-slinging: Saturday Night Live is going to cash in big time.
I don’t care were you’re at on the political spectrum, Melissa McCarthy blew the socks off the Sean Spicer bit.
On to more serious things…
Responding to what’s going on in our nation is all kinds of tricky, ay? (Just ask Naive, Younger Me from Last Week who posted some love for immigrants and refugees and *thought* people *might* read it in a spirit of goodwill. Ahhh, Me From a Few Days Ago. You’re precious like that.)
So here we are, ay? Still feeling our way through a transition in power. Watching the trail of executive orders pounding against each other like dominoes. Lamaze breathing like nobody’s business.
I get it. It doesn’t matter what side of the aisle you’re on, you’re probably experiencing some discomfort.
Torn. Worried. Uncertain of what’s to come. Can I get a witness?
(Me too, by the way. I’m all of those things.)
Here’s my two cents on how to hold All. The. Feelings.
1. Those pent up frustrations and concerns swirling around in your gut? They have to be felt. And fully felt. They have to break through to the surface, be brought to expression. If they stay put, locked inside you, they escalate into bigger fears, paranoias, and hate.
2. Talk/journal about your feelings and fears. The best therapy can be a good friend. Or, if you’re the private type, journal like your life depends on it. Release it. Release some of it, release all of it you can. It’s not all yours anyways. God hasn’t tasked you with handling all the pains of humanity. It’s not all yours to carry. When we don’t release the burdens, they pile up in stress, depression, fury.
3. Don’t let the negative emotion take over your identity. Express your outrage. Fine. Talk about your disappointments. Yes. Do it. Take all the time you need. But remember where you end and your feelings begin. You don’t, for example, *have* to permanently identify as an “outraged person.” You can be a person who is sometimes (or even a lot of the time) outraged.
4. Leave some space for goodness. At some point (which *you and only you* get to determine), it may become possible to let the pain pass through you…temporarily or permanently. You may be able to hit pause on the frustration, for example, to let yourself be fully present at dinner with your family. You may be able to suspend the worry long enough to enjoy a good book. All of us need some time and space where we can dwell on what is good and noble and true…some moments where we aren’t required to rail against all that is wrong. This helps us keep our sanity. Then, if you need to get back to carrying the world on your shoulders, you’ll be healthier to press on.
5. Try to understand other people’s pain…in manageable chunks. Read Facebook posts or newspaper articles from someone who holds an alternative opinion about all that’s going on. Maybe purposefully seek out that alternative opinion from someone you already respect as being a kind, intelligent human being. That way you’ll be less tempted to vilify the speaker and more likely to listen…and, just maybe, even learn from them.
6. Conserve your energy. While I stand by the value of listening to someone from the other side of the aisle, my suggestion is you do that sparingly. Don’t constantly bombard yourself with opinions about the country or controversy all day long. Do any of us really have the emotional bandwidth to take on everyone from our childhood BFF’s cousin to our 5th grade band teacher’s extremist opinions? Can we keep doing all the other things we need to do–like eating and doing laundry and being good to our people–if we immerse yourself in the conflict 24-7? (For me, the answer is no.)
Some Word of Hope
- My kids say and do funny things all the time. They dance at bowling alleys. They eat ladybugs. They protest against potato wedges. Get lost in that. Trump who?
- My faith and my convictions run stronger and deeper than my frustrations and grief. By my count, there are still more reasonable, good-willed people on both sides of the aisle than there are extremists. The math is still on our side.
- If we take care of ourselves, and grow through this, God might just make something good with the pain–for us and for our nation or world–if we let him.
Featured Image Credit: Jeffrey Bary