Our current circumstances continue to keep us confused, off balance, and many of us in a complete state of fear. Fear is not something new to humans. In fact, fear has been deeply wired into our biology. Fear was designed to keep us safe and to allow us to quickly process whether we should stay and fight or run[i]. It was NEVER meant to be a permanent destination or state-of-being. Living in a constant, elevated state of fear places undue pressure on our adrenal system, our immune system, and our ability to cognitively process information. We can literally be paralyzed by the emotional response to fear.
The greatest way to neutralize fear is through action. The same can be said for our current situation.
The most effective way to combat the emotions we are feeling is to act. Action can be in the form of labeling your emotions and processing them; all while focusing on what we DO have control over – how we feel.
During the spring lockdown I observed those individuals who had chosen to complete The Grief Recovery Method® (GRM) program fared much better than their friends and colleagues. They were able to take action to complete any incomplete emotions.
COVID has, for many of us, presented us with conflicting emotions brought about by a change in something which was familiar. There are many positives that came out of the COVID experience with families bonding, some were given a rest from the constant demands of working, free courses were being offered, etc. There were also many not-so-positive with many feeling they had lost the right to choose, loved ones may have had to die alone, rituals could not be celebrated, etc.
What do we do with this plethora of emotions? We bury them, distract ourselves with Netflix, games, food, and sleep. We begin to feel worse without an explanation for this downward spiral. There does not appear to be any obvious solution.
We may find it difficult to take any type of forward action, especially around our emotional responses since we may not know these triggers even exist. Once again, we do what we have taught, skillfully bury our emotions, and distract ourselves from the disappointments of the past.
The good news…. the first step to any kind of action – awareness.
Once you are aware of how you are feeling – label those emotions. I am “feeling” angry versus I am angry. I am “feeling” sad or I am “feeling” lonely are ways of accepting the emotions without becoming them. There is no judgement. They are not right or wrong. They simply are. THIS allows us to return to the present moment without feeling the need to hide. Not hiding from our emotions is pivotal when it comes to resolving our pain.
In an effort to feel better, many of us reach for a variety of distractions including, but not limited to, food, exercise, sex, and work. Ironically, the more we push our emotions away the more our body fights to get our attention. It may begin with a slight restlessness or anxiety which, if not addressed, tends to increase in intensity until something has to give. In a desperate attempt to get our attention, any unresolved emotions can eventually impact our physical body negatively.
With so much misinformation surrounding the word grief it is not surprising so many of us are walking around without knowing we have grief. Those who have chosen to take the GRM program quickly learn the proper information and begin to understand how they have remained stuck in their pain for so long. For example, they learn there are not stages of grief so universal that everyone experiences them. They learn about the 6 myths, familiar to all of us, and how they contribute to our suffering. They slowly become aware of the over 40 reasons someone might grieve and they themselves begin to identify how many hidden griefs they have been carrying around over the years.
In this safe place, with someone they trust, one by one they begin to uncover their emotional pain. They begin to understand it would be their honesty which will set them free. They do not need to feel embarrassed or ashamed. There are no judgements. They begin to accept grief is normal and natural.
I once had a client share with me the GRM had taught them how to feel their emotions without fear. To sit and be still with them. To allow themselves to feel the emotions all the way down to their heart, to allow it wash over them, without resistance. That is where they had found true emotional freedom. They learned facing the pain of their past offered them the key to a door which, long ago, had been locked. They found by facing their past they were able to step out, through the door.
These are a few of the reasons those who chose to work on their past felt better during COVID lockdowns. They were using this down time to mend their broken heart, to address the emotions which kept them feeling stuck, confused, and unable to move forward in their life. They were learning the small and correct action steps which would allow them to finish their unfinished business. This all gave them back a feeling of control.
After finishing the GRM program these individuals felt they had more energy, greater focus, they slept better, their anxiety had reduced, and there was an emotional freedom which left them feeling lighter. Most of all, they had hope.
I have supported many individuals through this process so when I realized I had hit my own COVID wall I knew what I needed to do. I needed to sort out my emotions over this past year, to understanding them, and to complete them. I needed to follow the same steps I teach others to come out the other side of my COVID sadness, my COVID anger. I needed to unravel the many emotions I was feeling so I too could put them down. This way I also could see my future with hope.
The process did not disappoint. I was able to sort through the massive emotions I was feeling, and I have to admit I was surprised at what showed up for me. The underlying anger, for me, stemmed from the fact we had lost the ability to talk to one another. I realized we had fallen into two different camps and neither side was able to hear what the other was saying. As someone who has spent their life as an educator and communicator, this was literally breaking my heart.
Could I change it? Probably not. Could I process my anger? Yes, I could. And like my clients I too came out the other side of COVID. A little wiser. More focused. More at peace.
It is at these times, when life seems the most challenging, we forget we always have a choice. We have a choice to suffer or act. I will always choose the later for I never want anyone else to dictate where my emotions take me.
I refuse to be paralyzed by fear. How about you?
Tammy Adams, Certified Coach Practitioner offering support, in-person or online, Canada-wide. She is certified in The Grief Recovery Method®, Personality Dimensions™, Reiki, Access Bars®, and Mindfulness. To learn more about the services she offers, book a 20-minute free phone consult, or visit her service tab on her website at www.tadams.ca