How do you deal with an emotional challenge? Do you try to ignore it? Brave it out amidst the demands of life? Or do you honor it, acknowledge it, and give it some space and time?
I myself encountered this dilemma recently. A long, business relationship came to an end for me last week. It caught me by surprise. And, after the shock settled in, a supreme sadness overtook me that I couldn’t shake off.
Even though I knew, cognitively, that this ending was not a life or death, success or failure issue, that it occurred as a natural part of the business relationship, and that its ending actually opened several greater opportunities for me, its affect was still daunting.
There was no ignoring it and I wasn’t managing to be very brave, so I decided it would be best for me to honor it and discover what was really going on emotionally for me. Thus, I took a step back. I carved out some time to be alone – a small personal retreat, if you will – and let myself feel the sadness. And then I listened.
What I discovered was grief – something I had not been acquainted with for quite some time. I forgot what grief felt like. Not only the sadness, but with it emptiness, lethargy, tearfulness, a sense of separation and rejection. Anger may have been there. I expect for many it would be in a situation like this, but I have never been good at anger (and I am not saying that’s a good thing, I just know it’s not high on my emotional radar).
The point being – I gave time and space to allow my feelings to have their say. I was able to recognize that I was grieving over the loss of the relationship because its genesis had been an amazing and positive turning point in my life. The relationship validated me, encouraged and supported me. By giving myself a little time, I could honor and remember these things, value them for what they were … and then move on to what “is” and open to the possibilities this change in my life could offer me now.
Had I stuffed my feelings, ignored them or braved through them, I would have robbed myself of the nurturance I needed and likely not gained the clarity that helped me move on from the past to the present of this situation.
Did I sacrifice other things, tasks, duties, etc. to make the time for this “step back”?
Yes. I did.
But I gained knowledge and a sense of expansion in my Self. My experience has been that when I do this, my energy, my enthusiasm and time, itself, expands in response to my self-care. All those tasks and duties miraculously got accomplished because I was able to re-center, shift my focus and be fully present to them rather than mired in emotional conflict and lethargy.
When something is pressing in on your, don’t ignore it. Don’t think that you are strong because you will brave through it. True strength and courage occur when you acknowledge your own need and give yourself time for self nurturance and personal discovery.