It’s Saturday morning, day 50+ of quarantine and the distant sun is shining through my bedroom windows while I sip on a freshly brewed cup of medium-roast coffee with a dash of coconut milk. I’m sitting comfortably in our wasabi green arm chair posted up in the back right corner of the bedroom, hair up in a messy bun, Drunk Elephant face mask glued to my face when my phone rings. It’s my lovely friend, Amandi. We start talking about our weekend plans, how our mom’s are doing, and healthy snacks we’ve been eating lately.
Which got me thinking. Quarantine is a roller coaster of emotions.
This is a situation and experience we’re collectively riding in across the world. This ride we’re on is a first of its kind and it’s called “Quaracoaster”. This ride of uncertainty and newness takes us all from a moment of feeling hopeful about the future to desperate for return to normalcy to sad and anxious that we can’t see our friends and family then back to feeling hopeful again. We’re all on the same ride, anticipating the next hill, the next loop that will send our stomachs to an uncomfortable place that we’re not familiar with feeling.
And since we’re not familiar and comfortable with this unfamiliar feeling, we doubt ourselves. We doubt the validity of the feeling. We don’t talk about it with others on the ride because we think “Maybe I’m the only one feeling this way”. So we suppress the feeling for part of the ride, but sooner rather than later there will be another loop and another loop and another loop.
And guess what?
Everyone on the ride will experience that next loop. The people in the front holding on will experience it first and the people in the last cart will experience it last. But we’re all in this Quaracoaster so let’s talk about it. Let’s share those uncomfortable and raw feelings because if you’re in the first cart you’re not only immensely helping yourself by vocalizing your emotions, but you’re opening a safe space for those to come.
Feelings are complicated, messy, unclear, and scary. They’re not packaged in little pink boxes with oversized red bows. But we have them and we have to recognize (and not ignore) the extremely challenging ones such as sadness, anger, hopelessness, and fear in order to truly feel the good ones such as contentment, joy, love, motivation, and playfulness.
“The first step is to recognize what we’re feeling. The second step is to understand what we’ve discovered—what we’re feeling and why. The next step is to properly label our emotions, meaning not just to call ourselves “happy” or “sad” but to dig deeper and identify the nuances and intricacies of what we feel. The fourth step is to express our feelings, to ourselves first and then, when right, to others. The final step is to regulate—as we’ve said, not to suppress or ignore our emotions but to use them wisely to achieve desired goals” (Marc Brackett PhD, Permission to Feel).