I was having a conversation with someone yesterday who was telling me how difficult they are finding things at the moment.
She is finding work is really stressful, it’s busier than ever. And, like many others, she has two young boys at home that she is trying to keep engaged in their schoolwork, while still trying to meet the increasing demands of her work.
She was almost in tears and sharing with me how difficult she is finding things. That she’s tired from broken sleep most nights and just feels really stressed, anxious and overwhelmed.
Then, she brushed it off and said, “but I’m really grateful I’ve got a job. I shouldn’t be complaining at all.”
On the surface, a comment like this seems fine. After all, it’s true. There are so many people who have lost their jobs and she is grateful she still has one.
But, deep down, this comment is harmful. Because, what she was doing with that comment was dismissing how she feels. She was telling herself that her feelings don’t matter because there are people worse off than her.
And, because she dismissed how she felt, she then felt bad for being stressed, anxious and overwhelmed, which, in turn, increased her stress, overwhelm and anxiety.
While she (and everyone!) should be practicing gratefulness because it can help reduce overall feelings of anxiety, depression and fear (a practice worth doing all the time, not only now), we all still need to recognise, process and feel our emotions.
Because dismissing them, resisting them or ignoring them doesn’t mean they go away. In fact, it can cause them to build up and feel stronger. Think of trying to hold a beach ball under water – there’s only so long until it explodes through the water and breaks free. It’s the same with your emotions and feelings.
So, give yourself permission to feel. Process what you are feeling.
Let yourself feel afraid.
Let yourself feel sad.
Let yourself feel overwhelmed or vulnerable or stressed.
Label the feeling you are feeling and notice the sensation that it causes in your body.
Then, delve in and uncover the thoughts you are having that are causing that feeling.
There’s power in allowing your feelings, experiencing them and understanding the thoughts causing them. It’s powerful to know your feelings are caused by what you are thinking, not by what is going on in the world.
You can’t change the world. You can’t change the circumstances and you can’t change others. And, when you try to change or control things outside of your control you feel powerless.
You can, however, change your thoughts. There’s power in that.
As soon as you can allow a feeling, label it and understand the thought causing it, you take back your power. You can’t change the world, but you can always change your thoughts. You just need the space to uncover them.
So, give yourself permission to feel.