Are Joy and Sorrow Mutually Exclusive?
Sitting with heavy feelings and the power of introspection
The last few weeks have been an adventure. The full plate I’ve had in my professional life has mixed poorly with the compound stress of being a human in 2022.
I’ve had a lot of visibility fears pop up as I’ve been promoting Decolonizing Wellness.
I’ve gotten frustrated with how debilitating my anxiety can become in the absence of physical treat.
I’ve felt guilty for thriving while others are suffering.
I’ve felt ridiculous for going to my 9-5 as though everything is normal, while it feels like the world is on fire (as always).
Wondering how many once in a lifetime events elder millennials will have to power through, I’ve been working to focus my energy on things that I have the power to change and learning to limit how much time I spend ruminating on things I can not.
I have never kept a journal or diary consistently but I find it really helpful to use journaling as a way to peel back the layers around complicated and uncomfortable feelings. Keeping a journal is a great way to keep track of your thoughts and emotions. It can be really helpful to write them down even when there is no answer or solution to be found. Keeping a journal is a way to bear witness to your feelings without seeing them as problems to be solved.
Lately journaling has helped me sit with the discomfort of living in a violent country that rarely fights conflicts within its boarders. It’s helped me reconcile why I can only access numbness when I read heartbreaking stories of members of the global majority (read people of color) fighting with racism as they fight for their survival alongside white Ukrainians. Fighting to get out of a country under attack is no doubt horrifying for all involved. But it’s mind-boggling/devastating that even at a time like this, racism and nationalism piles on to the extraordinary amounts of stress that people are experiencing.
Writing about my feelings has helped me step into the role of observer rather than judge of my processing. How I cope with most things is linked to trauma responses and patterns I’ve developed over time.
Judging myself for not feeling the way I think I ‘should’ feel, doesn’t help me or anyone else.
Sometimes things are abysmal and there is no quick fix. Life is a blend of joy and suffering. To fully engage with life our only option is to never put a hold on joy, waiting for the end of all suffering. It’s not just okay to hold space for both simultaneously, it’s a survival mechanism.
How have you been doing? Have you been able to sit with the fact that things are not okay and there is still joy and good in the world? Has it been hard to remember that both are true?
If you haven’t experimented with journaling to process complex emotions, I invite you to try it. Free write whatever comes to mind or use the prompts in the Self-Coaching Corner (below) to get started.
Ask yourself these questions, not in terms of how you’ve felt in the past or how you’d like to feel, but rather thinking of the present moment only. How does “now you” answer these questions?
How can I offer myself more compassion?
What does grief feel like in my body?
What does uncertainty feel like?
In this uncertain situation, what can I control?
In this instance is there an action I can take that won’t harm me, that can potentially help others?
27 Meaningful Ways You Can Help Ukraine
Sit with what you uncover for a bit before you stretch to move through whatever physical discomfort that came forward during your journaling.
Do your go to embodiment exercise (anything that brings you out of your head and into your body - if you don’t have one yet don’t worry we’ll cover this in the next newsletter), while you listen to the jam of the week below.
You gotta hear this
The virtual book tour for Decolonizing Wellness is still in full effect. If you haven’t had a chance to make a stop so far, join me for one of these upcoming meetups
Hope to see you soon,