If you’re anything like me you’ll be finding it difficult to articulate what’s going on in the world at the moment. ‘Surreal’ and, dare I say it, ‘unprecedented’ just don’t seem to hit the mark any more.
You might also be struggling to articulate how you're feeling. Or, you might know how you feel but - for various reasons - you might want to hold back from expressing it.
If you’re feeling scared, you might be suppressing it for the sake of your children.
If you’re feeling happy, you might want to hide it because you don’t think it’s appropriate to be happy when so many people round about you are in dire straights, struggling or even dying. Your happiness might be overshadowed by guilt.
If you’re feeling worried and anxious - about your health, welfare or finances, or those of your family and friends - you might not express it because you think that you ‘should’ be counting yourself lucky. You know or perceive that other people are in a much worse situation than you or your family are. So, you think, ‘what gives me the right to complain or fret when I’m ok in comparison?’
And, if you have something to celebrate you might fret about sharing your joy when you know that many others have nothing to celebrate at the moment.
Whatever you’re feeling, you really don’t need permission from anyone to feel it - or express it. Of course, it's kind to be mindful of other people’s feelings, and of course we don’t want to be deliberately upsetting anyone. But we do have to be compassionate to ourselves, and allow ourselves to be however we are at any given moment. Even during these, em, unprecedented times.
The past few days I’ve swung between things like: joy (at the sight of my daughter’s book fresh off the printer’s press), anxiety (around not being able to visit my mum in hospital and being told that she'll be moved to a nursing home to clear bed space), exhilaration (during Zoom workout sessions), melancholy (at not being in Tyndrum for an ultra running training weekend), excitement (at doing an online Writing Retreat with my daughter instead of said training weekend), calm (during Zoom yoga sessions), anger (at the inadequacy of the Westminster government’s dealing with this crisis), pleasure (when I’m talking to my family and friends, when I’m out walking, when I’m cooking), gratefulness (for the front line NHS staff, social carers and other key workers) and sadness (knowing my mum's going to be in a strange place with strange people and I can't go see her).
Some of these feelings I've shared publicly, some privately - but all of these feelings are valid. And everything you're feeling is valid too.
Having someone or somewhere to express those feelings without fear of being judged is really important just now. Try not to bottle them up. Whether it's talking to a good friend or family member, writing them down, voice recording or speaking to a counsellor or coach who can provide a compassionate and safe space - do try to let those feelings out.
You really will feel all the better for it...