During a virtual team workshop this week, a participant spoke up and said:
“Whenever I feel a negative emotion, my first internal reaction is, ‘but that’s a first world problem.'”
For instance… I really miss going to Panera…but that’s a first world problem. I really miss my latte from Caribou Coffee every morning…but people are dying. I’m worried I won’t ever be able to date again…but that’s not important right now.
This, my friends, is emotionally dismissing yourself. When these emotions and thoughts pop up to the surface, we either shame ourselves for feeling this way or shut them down and don’t deal with them. The thought is that if the world is experiencing such large amounts of suffering, our own ‘small’ worries and losses aren’t worthy of feeling. Our logic is, I shouldn’t be feeling this, therefore I won’t.
But the emotions aren’t an Either/Or type of thing. I can feel gratitude for my team members AND feel sad for my colleagues who had to lay off their team. I can feel relief that my life has slowed down AND worry about essential workers and their long hours. I can miss going to my favorite restaurant AND be upset at the food shortages so many are facing. There is a duality to emotions, and we have the capacity to hold space for both emotions. Your struggle doesn’t negate someone else’s struggle. It doesn’t take away from someone else’s pain.
I want to challenge you to try and catch yourself dismissing emotions that come up. And when you catch yourself, celebrate the catch! Give yourself a pat on the back for noticing this. And then, go back to the original emotion. So instead of shame, you might feel loss or worry or sadness. Be present with this emotion. Consider what might really be behind the emotion. It might be pretty simple: you just really miss your daily caffeine fix. Or there might be more emotions behind it. Your worries about single-dom stem from a lot of loneliness.
An easy way to remember this practice is to S.T.O.P:
Take a breath
Remember friends, those uncomfortable emotions will be there whether you want to acknowledge them or not. The way to navigate them is not to fight them or shame them, but to feel them.