People are feeling different ways right now and comparing it to how others are feeling. If a bunch of people are feeling a bunch of different ways, might some be right and some wrong?
I’ve spoken to numerous people lately. Some people feel uncertain yet steady, strong in the faith that they will come through this experience okay. Some feel grateful, as they’ve experienced a natural pause for reflection upon their priorities and values. Some feel fearful after having lost their income without a clear understanding of when that will change. Others feel consumed by anxiety; they’re worried about the magnitude of the global impact and feel powerless about what they can do to make everything better.
These are just some of the general experiences people are having, but there are many more who feel other variations of the above, or ebb and flow from one to the other.
Isn’t it easy to compare how you’re feeling to what you see and hear others are experiencing? As you’re listening to the news media, talking to friends and family, or scrolling down the social media feeds, there is plenty of opportunity for comparison. However, this constant comparison, mixed with the uncertainty of “when will this shutdown shift,” leaves many people wondering if how they’re feeling is right or wrong.
While global shifts related to COVID-19 continue to unfold, impacting society as a whole, we each have our own individual experiences and personal situations going, as well.
On a personal level though, we are being impacted in different ways:
- Is it wrong that I still feel overwhelmed?
- Is it wrong that I feel grateful?
- Is it wrong that I actually feel relieved?
- Is it wrong that I feel angry?
- Should I feel worse?
- Should I feel better by now?
- Should I feel more thankful?
Is there a global impact? Yes. Does that nullify individual experiences and perceptions? No.
Between online meetings, kid’s schooling, house updates, house maintenance, and trying to stay connected with friends and family, many people are feeling as busy as ever.
Conversely, many others are experiencing major slowdowns with work, have a fairly quiet residence, and are wondering what to do with this newfound “free time.”
There are yet others who are living in unsafe home environments or have no stable home at all. They may be wondering what to do, if and how to do it, or if they’ll be able to make it through this.
As a collective, we are all in this global pandemic experience together, but we are not all in our own unique circumstances, homes, or internal emotional waters together.
We are all living different lives. We have all had different life experiences that have led us to today. We have different families, different jobs, different homes, different supports, different trauma histories, etc.
Comparing how you are feeling at any given time to how someone else says they are feeling, or how someone else says you “should” be feeling, is not an apple-to-apple comparison.
So, is how you are feeling the right way or the wrong way?
The answer is neither.
There is no right or wrong way to feel right now.
While others may share in feeling a similar emotion or having a perception similar to yours, your particular combination of experience, emotion, and perception is unique to you. That is not a bad or wrong thing, it is a beautiful part of what it means to be an individual within an ever-evolving, interconnected system. The best way to support yourself, whether you want to change or enhance your current emotional state, is with a willingness to accept how you’re feeling without judgement.
For simplicity’s sake, I’ll offer an analogy.
My kids and I have been taking walks regularly, even on rainy days. If they are complaining about the weather or resisting going for a walk, it felt like a hassle and was not very enjoyable. However, when they weren’t complaining about the rain, wishing they could change it, or trying to hold something up to prevent us from getting an ounce of wetness on us, it feels liberating.
It’s liberating to accept the rain for what it is, a part of the experience and process of nature. Instead of fighting against it or focusing on not liking it, we accept it. No energy is directed towards controlling it when we know we can’t. There is no resistance.
It takes less effort and makes the experience feel better. Seriously, if you can, I encourage you to give it a try.
I’m not saying to accept any issues in the world as they are and to not attempt to be a part of a resolution or improvement.
I am saying that your emotional experience about what is happening in your life and how it is unfolding now is uniquely personal. Feeling is a part of the human experience, and the variety of emotions are natural parts of human processing. The more you fight it or judge it, the more effort gets put towards trying to control something you can’t control.
Doesn’t it feel less stressful to embrace the feeling you’re having and less energy-draining not to judge it?
How ever you are feeling right now, I’d encourage you to take notice of it.
Allow it to be acknowledged without judgement, and then take your next steps from there. One moment at a time; one day at a time.
– Dr. Toni
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