I weep. I laugh. I'm inspired to love bigger, better, bolder because of this woman.
Don't know who I'm talking about? Google Glennon Doyle. The author of Love Warrior and Untamed, Podcaster for We Can Do Hard Things, and Founder of Together Rising, an all-women-led nonprofit organization working for women, families, and children in crisis, stands for something ~ love and only love.
I promise, she's worth your time. Put her into your circle of influence.
Years ago, on her first webpage Momastery, I read a talk she did for Oprah's super soulers. And like love at first sight knowing. Like your soul has found a piece it'd been searching for. Like a book you can't put down, a quote you story on Instagram. Glennon said something that did that to me.
First the pain and then the rising.
That truth moved in and now lives in my bones. As a child of an alcoholic parent, family violence, a father who died when I was 14, and a mother who went in and out of depression I was always reaching for the rising but never seemed to get there. I was stuck in the pain for most of my life.
Life holds every emotion as precious cargo. Pain, hurt. Anger, happiness. Suffering, joy. Anxiety, calm. Being alive means having all feelings of all sorts. Recognizing, accepting, and responding to this part of us takes knowing and skill.
Let's talk about that for a second. Years ago, on a Sunday afternoon my assistant principal caught me as I finished photocopying some work for the week. I was the only one in the school with her, so by default she asked if I'd be interested in becoming a Roots of Empathy instructor, the deadline for submission was that day. I didn't realize it then, but this was a pivotal moment for me. Roots of Empathy became my first introduction to the intelligence of our emotions.
The program teaches children about emotions, compassion, and empathy by observing and getting to know a real baby. One of the key points students are taught, as they watch for all the different emotions in the baby, is that emotions are neither good nor bad. They're just emotions.
I watched as 5 year old children observed and recognized emotions playing out on a baby's face and actions. Whether it was frustration over wanting a toy, or hurt because they fell down, or joy when they saw all the children, or scared when their mommy moved slightly away, the students learned how to accept the emotion in the baby and then saw how to respond to that emotion with love and kindness. This learning would then spill into their friendships as well as their understanding of how to recognize and respond to their own emotions.
It was emotional intelligence 101 and I learned as much as the children. It was a jumping off point in my own understanding of how to view others with compassion, and more importantly how to treat myself and my emotions with loving kindness.
So yes, some emotions are negative, but they're not bad. Emotions are part of our divine human make up. We are feeling beings.
Yet with most if them we run away, stuff 'em down, deny, ignore, make light of, numb. Because walking through and really feeling them hurts. But by not walking through, saying hello, inviting them for tea, we're making a solid choice to let them stay inside only to show up again and again in our lives.
Holding onto pain whether we want to or not is the definition of suffering.
But we can make a different choice and choose a life full of emotional rewards. It starts with understanding that emotions are just a part of the beautifully complex beings we are. That you are. When we acknowledge and respond, rather than react, to the whole rainbow of emotions available to us we have the potential to become more grounded, more compassionate, listen better, have flourishing relationships, vibrant lives. In turn we can can be wayshowers for how to move through painful emotions.
So how do you feel big hurt and still be ok?
1.Use your words ~ Learn the language of feelings
You can't name your feelings, let alone recognize and acknowledge them if you don't have a vocabulary for them. The language of emotions is rich. Brene Brown lists 87 core emotions in her research for Atlas of The Heart. Frustrated, discouraged, grief, jealous, hurt, awe, intrigued, surprised, anxious, dread, resignation, bittersweetness, and calm are a few of my fav's. It's much more than sad, mad, and happy, right? So, what are you feeling? Is there more underneath?
2. Feel your way
You can't rise the way you're designed to unless you feel the pain you're handed. Rick Hanson, author of Resilience, has 3 steps I find helpful:
Let be - be mindful of it, be with it, feel it, honor it as part of your human truth. Love is stillness. This is the time to be gentle, patient and kind with yourself. What am I feeling? Where am I feeling it? What am I thinking?
Let go - don't try to understand it. It will end. Whether it's a minute, an hour, a month, a year it's a fleeting emotion that you choose to let go of or hold onto. Is there any good reason to hold onto this pain? Who would you be without this?
Let in - once you've let go of the pain you make room for the light. Space, that was being taken up in your brain while focusing on the pain, is now available for new thoughts, ideas, decisions, emotions. It's the beginning of the Rise. With no filters allow the light in, in whatever way it shows up. What feels good right now? Rest? People? Ice cream? Note that this might be the hardest thing to do and is often ignored. Allowing in goodness, possibly even joy, can be incredibly scary if pain and hurt is what you're used to. This is how you heal and from this place you can respond.
Remember, it's courageous to parent yourself with love and kindness. Clarity, self awareness, and a stronger you is the reward in a human experience that's full of emotions.
love + blessing