Updated: 5 days ago
How can we hold each other in disappointment?
“I didn’t get the show”
“I didn’t get the job”
“We broke up and I’m devastated”
“He left me”
“My _____ died”
“They say it might be cancer”
“My business is going under”
“We are broke”
"They fired me"
"We lost the baby"
"It is not going to work out"
At some point in our lives we will say one of these things to a loved one or
one our people will say one of these things to us.
It is just going to happen.
If you are a living breathing human you will experience disappointment, loss, grief, and perhaps a rage blackout every once in a while.
Most always our first response is something like this…
“well everything happens for a reason”
“God has a plan and this is a part of it”
“something better is ahead”
“he/she had a great life”
While these may be true statements in essence… are they helpful in the moment?
Think back to the last time you were having a deep-rage- blackout- breakdown moment and someone with good intentions covered you the itchy wool blanket of …
“everything happens for a reason.”
Of course we all mean well when we say these cliches.
We want to ease the pain.
We want to minimize it so it hurts less for our loved one.
But what if we said….
“Yep. That is the worst. I hear you. I’m with you.”
What if we were able to breathe with that person in their pain and hold space with them while they process?
In our culture we seem to be afraid of emotion.
Deep ugly messy emotion.
I get it. It’s uncomfortable to sit with someone when they are weeping, angry, deeply disappointed, or frustrated.
But I submit that minimizing these emotions stunts our growth and discounts our human experience.
Emotions are there for a reason. They are information.
In the start of my counseling career I worked as an adolescent counselor at a Treatment Center for teens with drug addictions and behavioral issues.
We use a therapy theory called DBT- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.
One of the facets of this theory is Mindfulness.
This Mindfulness challenges us to be present in and with our emotions.
To be curious about our emotions without judgement.
Emotions are indicators.
Red flags if you will that water is boiling in your mind/body/soul.
What if we Observed them with care and curiosity? With awareness and honesty.
What if we didn’t hide the hard feels and pretended we were “fine”?
What if we allowed others to be honest with their feels?
As friends. As family. As Lovers. As partners. As parents.
(Reminder: only try this at home with safe trusted people.)
The only way through pain is THROUGH it.
It's like that children song about going on a bear hunt...
Can't go over it,
Can't go under it,
Can't go around it,
Got to go through it!
It seems my whole life right now is nudging me to this change of mind.
Empathy > Judgement
I hear this in my spiritual community...
“We have to be a community who is free to mourn and lament for what was and what has been lost. A community who is honest about pain and sadness who does not wear masks.” - Providencia WPB
I read it in books...
“Our silence about grief serves no one. We can’t heal if we can’t grieve. We can’t forgive if we can’t grieve. We run from grief because loss scares us, yet our hearts reach towards grief because the broken parts want to mend. C.S. Lewis wrote “No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear.” We can’t rise strong if we are on the run.” - Brene Brown - Rising Strong
I am also being challenged to practice it with my friends.
The biggest education has come from my friends and family showing me love in this way.
I have beloved people that are able to sit with me in my messy moments and not try to fix it right then and there.
People who breathe with me in disappointment and who listen actively as I struggle and navigate this human experience.
I also commune with a God whom I believe is with me in pain and breakdown.
A God who is present more as a midwife than an epidural.
A Divine presence that brings comfort through the pain not just a swift removal/masking of the pain.
All this to say … I am encouraging us to breathe with each other in pain, disappointment, and loss.
Yes, there is a place for the fixing and the challenging of our perspectives.
But it is often not in the moment of deepest emotion.
And as we make healthy choices and move through the pain in prayer and honesty…
The fixing will come.
The healing will come.
The perspective shift will come.
And you may be the person who will challenge and will redirect.
But let us first learn how to be with each other in it.
So what if we held each other and created space for each other to feel
I submit it would free us into more flourishing relationships and lives.
“Unexpressed emotion will never die.
They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.”
So could we, in our own way, begin to create a culture that allows for emotion and processing in more productive ways?
I can see it.
I can feel our culture moving towards it.
And I feel the freedom it brings.
Thanks for reading and considering.