Healing Disappointment: Stronger Together

By Lara Fielding Psy.D., Ed.M | Wednesday, November 9, 2016

In a nation where half of us are filled with shock and sadness, skillfulness takes on a much different tone. On a normal day, the ultimate aim would be to move towards feeling better, or even happiness. But today is NOT a normal day.

Today is a day of monumental practice. Today is a day for the excruciating practice of sitting with our sadness as both an act of self validation and a healthy choice for our psychological (even spiritual) well-being.

Allowing Discomfort

In this blog I frequently discuss the importance of our emotions and getting better at feeling, to feel better. We have learned the skill of balancing willingness to feel feelings, with skills for changing them. I often highlight how this practice of Willingness to feel difficult emotions is the most difficult skill because it is so very uncomfortable. Indeed, humans are hardwired to automatically and instinctually move away from discomfort and towards comfort (feeling better).

But, today is a distinctly unique opportunity to practice. Today we can more readily notice how staying with and leaning into our difficult emotions, rather than pushing them away, can actually rewards us. As you scroll through your social media feed since the election, what do you notice when you or someone else posted something emotionally expressive?

Our emotions bring us together, through empathy, in the collective soup of our experience of loss. It is in this soup of emotions that we can experience a deeper sense of connection to our fellow travelers through this lifetime. In a way, perhaps we are honoring the value of ‘Stronger Together’ by taking some time to sit with this discomfort in our community and ourselves.

The Path to Healing

Healing always begins with kind and caring attention to the wound. Sharing your pain and communing with compassionate others can be a tremendous balm for the ache of disappointment. When someone expresses an authentic understanding of our pain, we no longer feel so isolated. Connection is the reward for allowing and sharing our vulnerability.

Unfortunately, in many cases others do not understand, validate, or offer compassion for our pain. In the case of this election, we may find many who can connect in this space of suffering. But there will still be equally as many who either do not understand, are unwilling, or unable to meet you there.

Honoring Differing Needs

When we encounter those with whom we cannot share and connect, we may experience a sense of invalidation. Notice this. You may experience a wave of anger, followed by the impulse to either make them understand, or shut down.

Each of us will have a different ‘set point’ of sorts for how long and deep this period of practice will be. As I scan the social media posts of the predominantly likeminded in my networks, I see two varieties of posts; the (trying to be) hopeful and the (devestatedly) hopeless. Interestingly, frequently there are replies beneath the hopeful posts, saying something to the effect of ‘yes, but I am not there yet.” Beneath the hopeless posts, I see “Thank you! That is exactly how I feel.”

As time marches on, some will have more trouble than others in ‘coming together’ as a nation. Some may seem too eager to move forward in the eyes of those still struggling. If you experience this, just notice, and remember, acceptance does not mean approval or agreement. Acceptance is simply the final step in the process of grieving (i.e. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance). Each goes through this process at their own pace.

Knowing this, perhaps we can practice the value of ‘Stronger Together’ by honoring the needs of one another. Whether you are eager to move forward in ‘coming together’ as a nation, or need more time, let’s practice together and the healing will come.

If you have questions about how to be skillful in your life, I hope you will send me a message in the comments section! Or sign up for the Mindful-Mastery SKILL WEEKLY newsletter, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Healing Disappointment: Stronger Together

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