In 2011, a dear and longtime friend of mine lost her live-in job, which left her both unemployed and homeless.
To heal herself, she drove cross-country, visiting friends and family along the way. My husband, Bob, and I invited her to stay a couple of weeks with us in Northern California, which she did. Bob had met my friend only once. He really liked her. She was exceptionally smart, very interested in her world, spiritual, dedicated to being loving in all her endeavors, considerate, and helpful. As the two weeks came to an end, we offered her more time with us, which she accepted.
By October, just a few months later, Bob was hospitalized with a serious medical condition. It was the start of his five-year downhill “glide” to his death. My friend stayed with us for the entire experience. Ultimately, she became indispensable. When I had a business trip, I knew I could rely on her to keep things running at our home. She kept the caregivers organized as Bob needed more help, she cared for our cats and dog, talked long hours with Bob as he faced what was happening to him, and at the end, she participated in his Memorial Service.
Only after it was all over did I sit down one day and realize what a gift I had been given. My friend had actually accompanied me (and Bob), all the way through this tremendous life-change of losing my husband, and of him dying at home. She had made it possible for all of us to have a smoother transition, and had done it with love, kindness, thoughtfulness, clear boundaries, courage, integrity, and honesty. I could not have asked for a better experience with my friend. I had never imagined I would have such an experience, yet there it was: a best friend who went through the entire experience of the illness and death of my husband, for us, in total support!
After it was over, I realized how immensely grateful I felt!
My entire experience of my husband’s illness and death would have been much, much harsher, had my friend not stayed and helped us through. The thing that amazes me is that we all have such friends, who stay with us through thick and thin, for the duration, just like my friend did for me and Bob. And yet, most of us don’t realize our friends are there in the total way they are!
Whether we’re facing catastrophes, make incorrect decisions, lose our job (or parent, or child, or partner), become ill, argue with our neighbors, or start running out of money, these “friends” are with us, every step of the way. These “friends” are the emotions that come to us and pass through us. Emotions are there, right from the beginning, doing their best to help us through!
Emotions never go away. They work tirelessly to support and guide us. They keep coming back to make sure we’ve received their message. They don’t concern themselves with being disliked: they do their job anyway. The job of guiding and leading us is more important to emotions than being popular or liked!
These are some of the reasons it’s really important to be grateful to the emotions that arise in us.
Grateful for being there, for constantly offering help and support, for their leadership and feedback, and for the monumental job they do in making effort to keep us on the “just right path” for us as we go through life.
So, when you have had an experience and worked with emotions, take some time to feel and express Gratitude, before moving on! While you’re at it, give some gratitude to yourself, too. You’re the one you came with, so you deserve appreciation when you go through things—and learn. Take time, after an experience that brings up emotion(s), to appreciate yourself for noticing their presence, discovering their message, heeding that message, embracing and accomplishing your learning, and then letting go!
The cartoonist, Al Capp, created some bowling pin style creatures he dubbed “Shmoos.” I followed them in the funny papers as a child. Shmoos were fascinating because their only purpose was to serve. They would do absolutely anything in order to meet the needs of the person with whom they were interacting. They would even turn themselves into an entire meal if the person were hungry! And, they were always smiling. It was their honor and pleasure to sacrifice themselves for the needs of others!
Emotions are a lot like Shmoos. They are with us to “serve,” and will do everything in their power to serve our need to figure out how to do things, what turns to take, and how to respond to situations and people.
I don’t know about the perpetual smile (I’ve not seen it!), yet I know that emotions serve with pleasure and dedication, helping each and every one of us to have a better, smoother-flowing, and satisfying life! Being grateful to have such “creatures” in our lives is a simple payback.
Even with the many ups and downs we experience, life is meant to be pleasurable, enjoyable and fun. The emotions we experience are designed to take us through the challenges and circle us back around to the pleasure, enjoyment, and fun. This series of posts is your invitation to do just that, led by, prodded by, and supported by the emotions that arise in you as you pass by. When we are grateful to emotions (and ourselves for engaging with them), this entire experience is enhanced.
Many studies have now been conducted on Gratitude. Finding ways and times to feel and express gratitude has been shown to improve our lives.
Being Grateful to some of our most loyal and helpful “friends,” as emotions will improve and enhance your life.
Partner with, listen to, and enjoy the emotions that present themselves to you, every day of your existence!
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Ilene Dillon, MSW, has dedicated her life to helping people resolve personal challenges once and for all, then design life to be what they want it to be. A Transformation Specialist, she has worked 50 years as a psychotherapist and 15 years as a coach. She is a global speaker, Amazon International Best-selling author (The Wellness Universe Guide to Complete Self-Care, Volumes 1 and 2), podcast guest, and plans to give her first TEDx speech (on Anger) later this year. Ilene is also the author of Emotions in Motion: Mastering Life’s Built-in Navigation System and End Manipulation: Stop Being Jerked Around by Toxic, Energy-draining People. With her little dog, Pi, Ilene lives and travels full-time throughout North America in her RV, writing, teaching, and speaking along the way.