A huge shout out to my friend and colleague, John Cerqueira, who I recently interviewed on my podcast: UnYielded: Thriving No Matter What, which is all about flourishing and putting our energy into a place of positive influence. If you want to listen to the episode, you can listen here. We talked about his experience in Tower 1 on September 11th and what he learned about dealing with adversity by having that experience. There were many great take-aways that I can’t wait for you to hear! One of those take-aways really resonated with me because I encounter it a lot while coaching.
One of the things that John talked about is that when facing grief or any sort of dark period, it’s okay to feel the “unpleasantness” of the situation without judging it. It simply exists. I think that’s important for people to really understand and accept.
We have this tendency to want to skip past unpleasant emotions. Here’s the problem with that: 1) it doesn’t work that way: I had a coach tell me once that whatever emotion we resist, will persist; and 2) there are no good or bad emotions. Emotions are simply data points. (How we act on the emotions, of course, is another topic.)
Something I hear all the time is that, “Well, my situation isn’t as bad as someone else’s.” That may very well be true, but it doesn’t mean that it is any less trying or difficult for you.
A couple of years ago, I was on the road for work and I woke up in the middle of the night and walked straight into the bedpost and broke my toe. I heard it snap. It was terrible. After curbing my urge to scream at the top of my lungs because I thought the other hotel guests might not appreciate that, my first thought was, “well at least you didn’t break your leg.” Okay. True. It could have been worse. And, it didn’t mean it didn’t hurt. A lot. It didn’t mean that it didn’t swell up so bad that I couldn’t get a shoe on.
When we seek the angle of “it could be worse” because we are trying to put things in perspective and find some gratitude for what we do have, that’s healthy. When we take it to the point where we judge ourselves for feeling bad, it’s counter-productive. Now we have the initial thing that we might be mourning or feeling bad about AND we just added to the pile because we are now feeling bad ourselves. The emotion is what it is. It’s okay to feel good that we didn’t break our leg AND we still need to take care of the broken toe.