Updated: Apr 26, 2020
Our coronavirus quarantine has begun.
Words I never thought I would say. It feels like Y2K all over again. For real, the world is going mad.
I’ve watched for several weeks how the world reacts to the things that are scary. I have seen fear. So much fear. Fear of getting the virus. Fear of dying. Fear of traveling. Fear of not having enough groceries (guilty). Fear of the stock market crashing. Fear of losing everything. Fear of not being able to pay the bills. Fear of not being able to find childcare.
I have seen anger. Anger over the event cancellations. School and daycare cancellations. Travel bans. Anger over how one politician over another handles this situation. I have seen anger over cancelled sporting events. Anger over poor families taking advantage of the continuation of school breakfast and lunches. I have seen anger over a lack of toilet paper.
I have seen confusion. Confusion over what and what is not true. What voices to listen to. What articles to read. What is actually happening. What information that CDC knows that the public doesn’t.
I have seen sadness. Sadness from athletes who work hard all year round just to see all it cancelled over night. Sadness over how this is killing thousands in the world. Sadness over what this could mean for the poor or lower middle class. Sadness from seniors not getting to go to their prom.
This virus is doing damage on our hearts.
I have also seen so much judgment. Judgment about how others do or do not react to this. Judgment about how they feel.
Acknowledgment is step 3 on the path to cultivating authenticity in our relationships with God, self, and others. (Get a download of all five here). As I teach you a bit about how to acknowledge your feelings, I felt it was right to remind you that it is OK to feel whatever you feel about number 19. And it’s OK to say it out loud. Some may judge you, but hopefully most will simply listen. And remind you that they feel it, too.
Naming your feelings out loud in the presence of another is one of the bravest things you will ever do.
You take a risk, a risk of judgment or lack of understanding or possible betrayed trust. The other(s) may not listen to you or agree with you. They may not care that you feel that way. Being vulnerable is risky. And we have to determine if it is worth it. But when it is worth it, there is a method to this madness. There is a process that is best practice when sharing our feelings.
If our feelings are directly the result of an action someone has taken toward us (For example, my feelings are hurt when I find out my good friend betrayed my trust. Or I am angry because someone said something rude to me.), we still can go through this same process. I think this process needs to be followed even if our feelings are not the result of someone’s mistreatment of us. Because sharing is courageous. It can open the door for truth to flood in, a truth that can set us free.
So once we figure out what our feelings are (through awareness- read post here), and accept them for what they are (read post on acceptance), we can say them out loud. The process is not always so linear, but follow with me here.
How can we go about naming them out loud?
1. Name them to yourself.
Simply say them to yourself. Example: I am aware that I am feeling frustrated about this coronavirus and how it is disrupting everything (awareness). It’s OK that I am frustrated about that (acceptance). I could acknowledge it by simply saying that: “I am frustrated right now because of this virus.” If you are wrestling with the feelings that you are having and you need further processing, you can write them in a journal. Consider why you feel the way you do, where the feeling came from. Is the feeling based in any truth? Is there any truth that can help ground you when you feel it? As you feel it, can you express in words what you need right now? Like, “I am tired. I need a nap.” Or more seriously, "I am angry with God. I need to know why my suffering is not ending."
2. Name them to God.
I honestly believe this and number 1 go hand-in-hand. When we pray, we can be honest. We can tell God we are angry. We can tell God we are afraid or anxious. We can tell God we are doubting Him. We can tell him we are sad. Naming them to ourselves is helpful, for sure, because it can bring so much clarity. But naming it to God? This can be incredibly healing. He is the God of comfort and peace. He is an incredible listener, friend. He welcomes what we have to say. And He will speak truth when we need to hear it. May we be willing to listen when He does.
If you are not sure how to share with God how you feel, use the "I" statement formula below and tell Him just like that.
I did a series on this last fall. You can read these posts on telling God when we feel:
3. Name them to another (if still necessary)
If naming them to self and God does not settle your heart (or the thing) about something, then share with a safe other. If you are unsure of who is a safe person for you, read this post. Also, you can subscribe to the Monday Minute where I will talk about this specifically soon.
It is OK to share feelings and thoughts about something more publicly, like via social media, but we need to consider our motivation behind sharing. Is it for attention? For someone to feel sorry for us? For solidarity? Is it to encourage someone else? How are we using our vulnerability in the public eye to help others instead of puff up self?
I know that many of you may be in situations where you do not feel safe to share your thoughts and feelings. You may be in a abusive relationship and have lost your voice. (It’s not too late to get out, friend.) You may be in a marriage with someone who does not value your feelings. You may be in a job where your boss or coworkers do not care about your needs. You may have grown up in an environment where your voice was silenced. You may feel others’ voices are louder than your own.
Your voice matters, too.
If you struggle to share how you feel with someone else, here are a couple of formats for you to be able to use that are highly effective.
“I” statements: This is not new. Many of you may have heard this before.
“I feel __________________ (name feeling) because (or when) ____________________ (tell them why). I need _________________________ (tell them what you need from them OR what you need in general if it does not have to do with them.”
Example: “I feel frustrated about this coronavirus because it is disrupting so much of our daily lives and putting a lot of people out. I need to take a few deep breaths and take one day at a time. It will be OK.”
Example: “I feel hurt that you have been ignoring me because friends tune in to one another. I need to know that you are here for me as I am for you..”
Sandwich approach: (my favorite way to share with another if they have hurt you, done something you are angry about, etc.)
Fluff: Say something nice about the person or that you are grateful for, something that leads into what you really need to say. (The goal is 5:1, 5 positive comments to every 1 negative comment.)
Meat: use an “I” statement or two to tell them how you feel toward them. Give examples. Be specific. Try to keep examples to a three minimum so that they do not feel attacked.
Fluff: finish with something nice.
Example: I am so grateful for how the national and state administration is taking extreme measures to protect it’s people from this virus. I am grateful for the news keeping us informed, and I am grateful that my husband is able to stay home with our kids during the month of quarantine. However, I am feeling frustrated because our lives our being so disrupted. I wish everything would not close. I am choosing to hold onto hope that God is taking care of us through this disruption, that sometimes disruption can be a good thing. And I pray that the government continues to do what is best for the people.
Example: Our friendship means so much to me. You have stood by my side in really hard times. But lately I have felt very ignored by you, almost as if you do not care at all. I feel hurt that you are not answering my texts or initiating conversation with me. I need to know that you care about me, that you are here for me as I have been for you. I need a friend right now, but I do not feel like you have been treating me like a friend is supposed to. I miss you, and I love you dearly. I hope that our friendship can move past this season of distance. Thank you for hearing me.
It can be SO hard to share something we feel with another. As I said, it is such a risk. But so often the risk is worth it. It allows for us to make deeper connections with others. It allows us to be relatable to others struggling, too. It opens the door for others (and God) to comfort us and speak truth where it needs to be heard. This kind of authentic vulnerability is the very definition of courage.
Courage originally meant "to speak one's mind by telling all of one's heart." - Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
I pray that your bravery to share will be worth the risk. May you find deep connections and even deeper healing in the process.
We are talking all things relationships over at the Monday Minute. You can subscribe here. You get weekly nuggets of truth (a bit shorter than this format) to help you work toward a healthy relationship with yourself, with God, and with others. In the meantime, here is a meditative prayer and journaling prompt for you.
It doesn't always feel like my voice
Matters enough to say how I feel.
How I think.
What I am struggling with.