global pandemic year one
It’s been more than a year since the covid pandemic turned our lives upside down. How you are doing?
At the same time, I have only recently admitted to myself that I am not entirely OK, which in itself is a big deal and a good thing. Noticing that I feel off-balance (sad, anxious, trapped, angry, disappointed, or whatever it is) and pausing to stay with the uncomfortable feelings and work through them is an achievement for me. Like many people, I was raised to deny or repress “negative” feelings. Happy, pleasant, comfortable feelings were welcomed. Anger, unhappiness or disappointment were banished. “Put up and shut up” was the phrase frequently used.
Nobody teaches us emotional intelligence and in many situations it is discouraged. So it’s not our fault that we are emotionally blocked or only experience a limited range of emotions. But not living our full emotional life, short cuts our ability to fully experience being alive and can keep us trapped in unpleasant social scripts that perpetuate cycles of violence, injustice or ill-feelings. Also repressed emotions will eventually be expressed through physical ailments further complicating things.
Once adults become aware of our emotional illiteracy, there’s a choice: evolve emotionally or stay the same. Teaching myself about my emotional world is something I have been doing for years. During the last year it has really hit me again how growing emotionally is a life-long process. I’ve dedicated lots of time to it lately and I know and understand more, but there’s still and always be more to discover.
It’s been gradual, it’s been easy and it’s been hard, and it is so interesting! Key has been developing a personal pattern to check-in with myself: noticing something doesn’t feel right, or comfortable, or too intense and, pausing and processing what’s going on and deciding what new actions to take.
Even if the new behavior doesn’t always push through, the checking-in, pausing and processing are essential and demonstrate some emotional evolution. Without catching that flicker of “oh, ops, wait a minute, how do I really feel about …?” , there’s no chance of change whatsoever. At least when I notice, I pause and I process, or try to process, at least I am confronting the slippery slope which can be cycling unhealthy auto-pilot behavior.
long dark night
How has the last year been for you?
Spiritual boot camp is one expression I would use to describe mine.
Meditation is one of my tools for managing my well-being and spiritual development. During the last year I’ve meditated more regularly than I have ever before.
One, I have the time. Social restrictions have meant fewer evening events which in the past impacted on my ability to get up in time to do my morning meditation routine. Also, it helps me manage the ups and downs of the last year. So I have mediated a lot.
But I have also noticed that “I didn’t always feel better like I expect I should”, which I know is shallow, but honestly one of my main motivation in mediating.
And also ranking up there is meditating to support the essential parts of my personality to re-ogranize themselves so I function at a higher and more fully feeling level. Meditation helps me become more true self. It helps me manage my emotions and ultimately I feel and know myself more.
Ah-ha! Maybe that’s what’s going on! I am letting myself be, feel and know the uncomfortable feelings more.
So I have sat with all this mash of feelings some more and I am currently interpreting it as a type of growing pain. We have all been living some version of a long dark night during the pandemic, our love and light from within dimmed and daunted by the global crisis. Holding onto and emitting hope and light takes more effort than usual.
One year on and so many routines, support systems and social networks are still limited or prohibited. I recall that at first I felt OK, and I think feeling OK was important to making sense of the new reality of home confinement. Then there’s been ups and downs, normal, but lately I have felt more down than up and all around than usual. And as the spring gently arrives here and I turn over this past year I wonder whether my turbulence all has been a life lesson and an initiation into something next.
Maybe initiation is too grand, but certainly the turbulence in my life has been an opportunity to use my meditative and emotional skills. Practical life experience.
So that’s where I am right now. Not good, not bad, it just is. And one year and counting ….
Would you like to learn more about emotions?
One of the best teachers, and who offers abundant, easily accessible resources is Karla McLaren. She has a great practical book “The Language Emotions” and offers lots of free on-line material and videos. A great to place to start if you want to know more and if you already know a lot. I highly recommend her.
And if you have other suggestion, welcome! Let me know in comments or send me an email.