Hey y’all! Happy Stress Awareness Month!
I love the word awareness. Immediately upon saying or typing it, my mind shifts outside myself to the role of the observer, the scientist. Do you do that? Try it, “awareness.” Did you feel the shift? We must practice observing ourselves in life, by shifting the focus from the inside out, to the outside in. Notice our responses, notice what makes us feel drained and defeated, notice what makes us feel energized and motivated. These are tools to a better life, y’all! This is easy work when you slow down and investigate your feelings.
The awareness you bring to your stressors and stress levels are meaningful steps to taking the right kind of action to deepen your breath and increase your peace. We want to dive into this topic for you this month because we’ve had just about all the stress that we can handle this past year. As always, please let us know what you are reading, how you are feeling, and coping, and how we can support your journey.
So, I recently went on a stroll down TED Talk Avenue and came across this amazing talk by Susan David, The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage. The name jumped out at me right away and I had to listen. Then I made my children listen, my parents and then the team here at Jenni Earle. What is so moving and potentially life-altering about Ms. David’s findings is her removal of the labels on our emotions and her acceptance of emotions as data.
We are taught from a very young age that certain emotions are good and others are bad (for girls and women, most that are visible are bad). Joy = Good, Anger = Bad, Sadness = Bad, Camaraderie = Good, Pride = Good, (but maybe Bad in too large of a dose…). She urges us to set aside the labels and just name the emotion. Try to decode what our feelings are really telling us.
On the surface, someone (or yourself) fumbles the pass (maybe your kid didn’t take out the recycling or a colleague missed a deadline) and we get pissed, but underneath the annoyance there may be more brewing. Ms. David asks that we sit with that first knee jerk emotion for a moment, and really feel the feeling underneath the reaction. Peeling back that layer might reveal disappointment or feelings of not being supported or seen.
Once you name it properly, your brain can actually jump into meaningful action. But only once you name it. Denying the real feeling and venting about the coworker doesn’t get it done, it only makes your stress rise even higher. Don’t jump to label that emotion as good or bad as you become aware of it either. Just look at it, be an observer, and use that as data about what moves you might need to make to get back to feeling stable and centered. It is amazing what power naming the emotion correctly can bring to your being. I once talked to my son, Grady, and he was all worked up, I asked him questions, attempting to help him peel back the layers. His hands were knotted up, he was fighting tears, pacing around his room. But as he called the pain he was feeling by it’s actual name, ‘disconnection’, he immediately eased. His breathing slowed, he transitioned to a knowing sadness. This allowed him to quickly realign to the action that he wanted to take to ease his heartache.
It’s a powerful shift. Accuracy does matter, so be sure to stay in it until you feel that knowing, that ease. Using that emotion as data to lead us to aligned action is SO much better for our mental and physical health than staying stuck and angry in Denial-ville.
Depression is now the #1 cause of disability globally. NUMBER ONE! And the teen suicide rate is up 70%. These are stifling statistics. It rocks me back on my heels to think of so many people feeling hopeless and desperate. Stay alert to those around you, check in on your people, ask them revealing questions. As someone who has gone through the rollercoaster of depression, having someone see you and ask if you are ok is like being doused in sunlight. “You can actually see me?” we, the depressed, think. It’s almost as powerful as asking yourself if you are ok, and sticking around to answer honestly.
Look at yourself in the mirror, sit down to paper with a pencil and begin to write, draw your truth out of yourself. It is imperative. Is it scary and daunting, hell yes! But you are worth the fight. Sluff off the layer of denial and get down to the nitty gritty so you can lay bare your emotional truth.
I’ll leave you with a quote from the TED talk,
“Tough emotions are part of the contract with life. You don’t get to raise a family or leave the world a better place without stress and discomfort. Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.”
Thank you for your amazing thoughts and work, Susan David!
Remember we are rooting for you every day!
If you are struggling, please reach out and ask for help.
Times have never been more challenging, you are not alone!