embodiment, growth, Stress

Untitled, unknown

It’s pretty scary, what’s happening right now. Within the span of two weeks, our lives have changed drastically. Moving my practice online to work from home was a relatively easy shift, and although I was initially concerned about how Dance Movement Psychotherapy would translate online, I’ve been constantly surprised by how much is possible through video connection. In many moments, I feel a deep sense of gratitude that I am able to continue working, and am “isolated” with two incredible people who inspire so much joy and hope in me, but even so, sometimes I’m scared, and I’m sad, so deeply sad, for all of the things we’re losing as a collective. 

As I sat to write my clinical notes from my first online therapy group a couple weeks ago, I suddenly found myself overwhelmed by tears. Something about seeing the words, seeing the impact that this pandemic was already having on a group of people whose growth processes I’ve witnessed and supported for the past few months, and knowing that there was no way for me to predict what’s going to happen next, or offer any reassurance, struck me. I found myself wondering how I will hold their processes now, when I’m just as confused and uncertain as they are, and how we can collectively, and as individuals, continue to hope and trust when the future is so thoroughly and completely unpredictable.

The feelings that many of us are experiencing at this time are incredibly challenging: fear, grief, dread, sadness, loneliness, hopelessness, uncertainty, despair, confusion – the list goes on. 

What do we do with all these big feelings? How do we cope with this sudden submersion into the depths of our internal worlds? How do we find ways of being with our feelings, when there’s just so many of them?

During that first online group a couple weeks ago, I remembered something that my therapist once offered to end a session. She asked me, “what if you could trust that everything you’re feeling, everything you’re doing, is exactly the right thing in this moment?”

Although it seemed like a baffling and impossible question, it was exactly what I needed to hear. And I think it might be the question a lot of people are needing to hear now, as we collectively navigate this scary and unknown territory.

What this question offers me is permission to feel whatever I’m feeling with less judgement and more compassion. To accept that my sadness, fear, and anger, my hope, joy, and gratitude, whatever it is that I’m feeling, is right and good and important. To let myself feel, to breathe into the pain or pleasure, to let it move me, move through me, and hopefully move on. 

When I allow myself to entertain the possibility that maybe, just maybe, I am feeling and doing exactly what I need to be feeling and doing in this moment, I experience a deep sense of relief, comfort, and grounding. In the moments that I can drop into this state, it becomes easier for me to trust myself, to trust that some part of me knows the way forward through this unknown territory.

And so, my invitation to you is this: the next time you notice a feeling or an emotion well up inside you, see if you can let this question drop in:

“What if everything I’m feeling, everything I’m doing, is exactly the right thing in this moment?”

That goes for the harder feelings, as well as the moments of joy, connection, and delight. We need access to all of our feelings, and letting ourselves feel our pleasure when it’s present, without guilt or shame, is part of what makes feeling our pain more tolerable.

Finally, I’d like to offer a gentle reminder that in those moments when there’s just too much to feel or you don’t have the resources to stay with it, an impulse distract yourself might just be the right thing to do too. The goal here isn’t to feel every single feeling that arises, but to approach what is present with as much acceptance and compassion as possible.

I hope that you are taking care, holding yourself gently, and accessing whatever connection is available to you.

With care and love,

Jessica

2 thoughts on “Untitled, unknown”

  1. With these words, I feel so seen and understood “Something about seeing the words, seeing the impact that this pandemic was already having on a group of people whose growth processes I’ve witnessed and supported for the past few months, and knowing that there was no way for me to predict what’s going to happen next, or offer any reassurance, struck me. I found myself wondering how I will hold their processes now, when I’m just as confused and uncertain as they are, and how we can collectively, and as individuals, continue to hope and trust when the future is so thoroughly and completely unpredictable.”

    I’ve been feeling the exact same way in working with the youth I work with. Having multiple 1-on-1 calls a day to see how this is impacting them and to try to strategize with and support them, has been exhausting, overwhelming and sad. But then I remember, in moments of clarity, that this is my service to the world, and more and more am following my own advice I share with them.

    Thank you for writing and sharing these words I needed to see!

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