Friday, June 24, 2022 is the day that Roe vs Wade was struck down by the Supreme Court of the United States. It was expected after the leaked draft by Justice Alito earlier in the year. We just didn’t know when. And for many of us, it was a blow.
Putting aside the actual issue of abortion, and the likely chain of current legal protections that may suffer a similar blow, for me, it’s yet another hit in a series of tough years.
The COVID-19 Pandemic (and its politicization and effects on healthcare systems and workers), social unrest following centuries of racial injustice, school, shootings, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine….there are a number of events that have happened in the past several years that have led to profound effects in our lives. And if you are feeling exhausted, I hear you. Sometimes it can seem like we couldn’t be any more emotionally “done,” and then…well, you can guess.
For me, it’s another episode where I often find myself in resistance. My go-to is “this shouldn’t be happening!” or “I can’t believe this happened!” And this often leads to anger or throwing up my hands. Anger and indignation are often easier for me to feel than sadness, grief, worry. Anger and indignation feel active; I can swear, throw up my hands, stomp around, etc, and discharge the feelings, at least a little. Sadness, grief and worry though? How often do we stop to let ourselves really sit in those feelings, just allow them to be there, and comfort ourselves through them like we might comfort a young child.
If you, like me, find yourself wrestling with what feels like an endless pile of hard circumstances, can you pause to consider what your default reactions are (anger, indignation, ambivalence, futility), and what they might be covering up (sadness, grief, concern/worry)? It may take some journal work, or a long quiet walk, or whatever you do to process feelings. What do you tend to jump to emotionally, and what do you tend to avoid? Is it serving you to process things this way?
The goal here is to become better at understanding yourself by feeling your feelings. Rather than believing that your initial reactions and emotions are complete, what is going on underneath that is weighing you down, and how can you choose to allow it instead.
Because if you know that you are carrying sadness, then you can respond to your sadness with compassion, instead of hiding it under anger. And if you can respond to the sadness, you can lighten your own load. Over time, this becomes a habit that leads to better alignment with yourself, with people that you love, and with your own values and power.
Acknowledge the feelings with compassion. Name them, allow them, honor them by being with yourself and tending to your needs.
And find yourself with less uncontrolled rage, less reactivity, and less exhaustion.