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Emotional Rollercoasters

Updated: Oct 18, 2020

There’s this great animated movie entitled “Inside Out” . It’s the story about Riley with her parents. She grows up with happy memories until she’s about 11 years old and they have to move to the city. Simple story. Characters in the movie are colorful depictions of anger, disgust, joy, fear and sadness. They are at the control board of Riley’s inside world. They work together often inciting heated discussions about who should be in charge. I would highly recommend it.

It was comical in one sense as it’s so familiar to see inside voices at the control board. Riley’s world crumbles as her life changes and she loses touch and blocks out joy and sadness leaving anger, fear and disgust in charge.

Our emotions blow through us sometimes quickly flipping like flash cards. Other times emotions can hang around and become a filter for life. Back in the late 90’s while researching for my caregiving self-help book I came across an article written by a neo-natal ICU nurse who posited the theory of chronic sorrow. This nurse witnessed day after day parents coming to terms with their child’s chronic illness. She coined the term chronic sorrow. Chronic sorrow is the recurring intense feelings of grief, in this case in the lives of parents dealing with children with chronic illness.

Chronic sorrow was a puzzle piece for me in finding self-compassion because I constantly judged myself for my roller coaster of emotions. I finally accepted that emotions are cyclic in that they come and go based on what I’m experiencing.

We’re all feeling sorrow, anger, disgust, worry and fear. We are also feeling joy and probably other emotions I’m not naming. The point is we’re on an emotional roller coaster. Who wants to get stuck at the top? We need to keep moving, keep feeling. Emotions change like the weather.

Holding our breath stops us at the top of the roller coaster. Holding our breath is like sitting down in a dirty diaper and setting up a tent. First step is awareness. Second step is advocating for ourselves to find a resource to help. Crying is allowed because crying helps move our emotions. Remember, no self-judgment, as it’s a form of sabotage. Third step is to repeat because it will happen again.

Participants’ Reflections:

  • My emotions have been overwhelming. I’m not in control of them. I was triggered when my husband left. The physical distance is calming, and I am getting my spark back. I can manage stress better. I was able to take on a new work project which is a historical one looking at coping. It involves citizen science, which is empowering because it is asking people what they know. In Germany in 1989 there was a peaceful revolution and people had to figure out what to do now that everything was different. There is information about coping, and I am asking myself what things did we overcome in the past in our country that we can apply to today.

  • What a blessing to have this space and project now.

  • During the meditation, I thought of the ocean, how the waves go in and out. The rhythm, how trees grow, how gravity keeps things grounded. I suggest going to meditate in sight of tree or the ocean. We have the power of nature to help us get back to center.

  • Three days ago, I discovered a heart-shaped spiderweb on my back deck. In the meditation, I felt lots of emotions in my heart. I feel so blessed by this web.

  • Thank you all for figuratively holding me yesterday. Your reading reminded me of the soul collage I made for my mom. It has small figures like in the reading. I always thought it was about being blessed by joy and sorrow. During the meditation, I saw that it takes all these emotions to be whole. I had many images, memories of things I saw yesterday: a field of poppies, a small boy enjoying tadpoles, a toddler in joy on a restaurant table. We have joy and I do get the anger and sadness, it's how we are.

  • Witnessing self in sharing your pain. You are authentic. I appreciate it.

  • During the meditation, I experienced great peace and the fluidity of letting breath flow through me.

  • Breath is so innate. I’m not aware when I hold my breath.

  • I loved that movie. Listening to reports on protests, many were peaceful. During the meditation, I thought of those five entities and of each person in the protests with those five entities and emotions inside them. We all have that combination of emotions fighting for control all the time.

  • I’ve been feeling short-tempered lately. My emotions and thoughts are interconnected. During the meditation, I could feel self-judgement. Then it changed to gratitude. The changing from one to another. I have a lot to be grateful for.

  • Crying is one of best things you can do. It moves emotions.

  • We have a corporate-wide meeting every Tuesday under the direction of the CEO. Usually, the meetings are about business issues. Yesterday’s topic was about what's been happening with the protests. It was amazing, how so many cried and shared their emotional reactions.

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