My mom, Kay Outhier, died on March 5, 2020. I was not prepared to say goodbye to her. I had just flown into Wichita with the expectation that she would be moving to a rehab facility to help get her strength back. This was her second hospitalization, and she was weak. Eight days after I arrived, she left us here on Earth.
It has only been a couple of weeks and I am still trying to get my head wrapped around the thought that my mother is no longer on the planet. I lost my dad when I was 19. He went very fast from a massive heart attack. My only sibling, Mike, passed away three years ago in January. He battled liver failure and ultimately was put into hospice care. I supported his journey across the rainbow bridge.
My mom was my last living family member. Now she is gone, and I feel alone.
Add on the coronavirus, the stock market drop and the cancellation of the beloved NCAA basketball tournament where my Kansas Jayhawks were a number one seed, as well schools and restaurant closings. Life feels weird.
I am feeling numb, sad and like it is all surreal. Is this really happening? And, what exactly is happening?
I suspect we are all feeling a bit confused, fearful and unclear about the future. One of my favorite lines is, “I do not know what the future holds, but I do know who holds the future.” Relying on my faith has carried me this far, and it will take me onward.
Working On Feeling Feelings
As a thought leader, I teach people the importance of feeling feelings. It’s so important, especially in times like this, to embrace our feelings and stay present so that the energies of our emotions do not linger in our bodies or our energetic fields. I am also trained in Heartmath and understand the power of using our heart intelligence as our vehicle to heath versus just using our heads. Dr. Roger Teel, Minister Emeritus of Mile Hi Church, just posted a beautiful mediation on Facebook, which reiterated the need to embrace our feelings and to transmute them using our heart energy as a way to find a higher way of being in the world right now.
It is common to not want to feel our feelings and find ways to avoid them. We all have coping mechanisms—every one of us! We are attached to our phone or computers. I spent more time on my iPad while sitting with my mom in her last days than I care to admit. I distracted myself with games and social media. Others use food, drugs, gambling, drinking and various other means of trying to cope or deal with our very complex world, which, most recently, feels even more complicated.
In my last blog, Are You Thriving or Just Surviving? How To Thrive In Today’s Whirlwind World, I spoke about VUCA—the volatility, uncertainty, chaos and ambiguity ever present in our lives. And, we discussed the simple concept of the whirlwind. Little did any of us know that a little whirlwind would start to feel like a massive tornado!
Faith or Fear
We have one or two choices here. We can get caught up in the whirlwind energy of the storm by staying in fear and reacting, or we can trust that there is something more. The good news is that there is stillness in the middle of the storm. It is my belief that we are being called to go inward, to find the stillness that is inside of us. As Dr Teel said in his message, “transmute these feelings with the power of the heart.” We have been instructed on what we can do to change the situation in our lives and country right now, such as social distancing and hand-washing. Beyond these things and the techniques we’re being offered, the only other thing we can do is work on our own sense of calm and stay in faith as we move through this. Dr. James Rouse published a beautiful, thoughtful Facebook post this morning with great information and ideas to additionally support us.
For those of us who are pretty darn smart, our brains really want us to believe that we can fix this. We cannot, and staying in fear and angst just makes it all the more miserable.
Letting your intellect overrun your emotions is not the answer. We need to learn to fully feel and accept what is happening and embrace both our thoughts and our feelings. Feelings are normal. They are real and they are meant to be felt, not avoided. A Course in Miracles says that there are only two feelings, love and fear. We get to choose each moment.
In my leadership consulting work we look at the reactive tendencies that are universal to all of us. The lynchpin of our socialized way of being is protecting. Protecting is the lynchpin of learned behavior that keeps us from staying present and feeling feelings. We fear emotional overwhelm and therefore work to avoid it all cost.
In the realm of our socialized reactive selves, we operate in four reactive tendencies, according to the work of Bob Anderson with the Leadership Circle. These are Protecting, Arrogance, Being Critical and Distancing Behavior. I will be going into the latter three in upcoming blogs. Today’s focus is on protecting.
We are conditioned to believe that we need to safeguard ourselves and protect our hearts. We’re often taught to defend ourselves and insulate so we do not get lost in the overwhelm of our feeling experience. This all happens at a very young age. When we are young we do not have the words or the psychological know-how to process emotions so we learn to avoid them at all costs.
As adults, we are fully capable of feeling feelings and processing our emotions. We just have not learned how. We are still walking around like our 3-year-old selves.
The behaviors that are usually displayed are as follows:
- We distract, distance and avoid.
- We project, judge and/or criticize ourselves and others.
- We try to think ourselves out of our experiences.
- We ignore our innate knowing or trusting our intuition.
- We overly identify with our intellect.
Do any of these feel familiar to you?
Emotional Energetic Repatterning: Instructions for Feeling Feelings
I would like to share with you a technique—Emotional Energetic Repatterning—that I have used in my practice for many years. It is a transformational somatic process in which you are guided to allow what you are feeling to reveal itself in your body.
First, identify a feeling you are having that you would like to resolve.
Allow the feeling to come up.
Now notice that the feeling is actually somewhere in or around your body. You may see it, feel it or sense it.
Where is it? Move your hand to that area of your body.
If you allow yourself to, you can sense in that field of energy that there is an area where it is even more intense than it is elsewhere.
Now allow your awareness to go right into the center of the most intense part of the energy of the feeling.
Usually, one of three things happens.
- The sensation will become more intense at first, especially if you haven’t been allowing yourself to feel it fully.
- It will seem to stay the same for a time.
- Sometimes it may start to fade away or soften.
For either #1 or #2…
Simply continue to allow your awareness to feel right into the center of the most intense part of the energy of the sensation.
Bring your awareness in closer to whatever is left of the sensation. Find the center of intensity of the remaining energy. Again, allow yourself to feel down into it, just experiencing the essence of the energy.
The idea is to feel down into the energy of the sensation so thoroughly that there is nothing left to feel.
If you need support in this process or are feeling triggered and or upset, please reach out. I am happy to support you with this process.
A Few Additional Tips
- Start your day with a moment or two of silence and feelings of gratitude. Just that you woke up is enough to be grateful for.
- Limit the amount of news you are watching. Yes, it is important to know what is going on, but do not allow yourself to go down the rabbit hole.
- Engage in fun things that you don’t get to do when you are so “busy,” such as…
- Play games with your family
- Enjoy the outdoors
- Walk your dog
- Walk with a friend
- Do something nice for a friend or a neighbor
- Pick up an old passion or project
- Do a puzzle
- Clean a closet and give your excess away
- Find somewhere to volunteer
- Call long lost friends and family
- Do a random act of kindness each day
- Take a nap
- Take a bath
- Read a book
- Pray or meditate
And, if you’re struggling to cope, dealing with anxiety and feelings of isolation and/or losing control, check out this segment on NBC Nightly News that suggests movement and meaningful engagement during these challenging times.
It is not always easy to deal with life and all it hands us. My dear sweet mom gave me great comfort in her last hours as she said her goodbyes. We cried and we laughed and we held hands. I stayed present to a situation that was not in my control, feeling feelings, and I learned that I could do it—again and again.
The blessing of feeling our feelings when they are present outweighs carrying them with us the rest of our lives.
Please take care of yourselves and each other.