“Don’t be concerned about being disloyal to your pain by being joyous.”
-Jpir Vilayat Inayat Khan
Making Space for “Both And”
I don’t know about you, but these last 10-days I’ve been toggling between heartbreak and horror from world events and joy and anticipation as I watch every pitch of the Phillies games.
How to hold it all?
Sometimes, when a client is struggling with strong or multiple emotions, I encourage them to imagine growing “bigger on the inside” so they can make room for their feelings without getting overwhelmed by them or shutting down.
It’s especially important when holding seemingly opposite feelings like horror and elation. BOTH can be true.
One way to “grow bigger on the inside” is to think “stew” not “smoothie.” Example: My client was experiencing sorrow for her grandmother, who was beginning hospice care, and excitement about her upcoming book launch. She was trying to blend both feelings together like fruit in a smoothie, when I suggested she consider each feeling more like an ingredient in a stew. The carrots sit beside the beef – each one distinct in flavor and texture. I also invited her to imagine herself as the big, strong, pot warmly and solidly holding the ingredients together. It helped her take a breath and realize she could indeed hold and savor each of her powerful life experiences without overwhelm.
As leaders it’s important to find ways to care for ourselves so we can support others who are no doubt experiencing a lot of emotions – not just to world events and playoff games – but to their own already full and fast-paced lives.
Here are some tips and resources to support you as you support those you lead:
- Check-in on colleagues. Don’t let your fear of saying the wrong thing get in the way of reaching out. You don’t have to have a long discussion, just ask your employees how they are doing, and if they need any extra support. Listen to understand – not to agree or fix. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”
- Take action aligned with your values – for example, call a representative, or donate to a trusted organization.
- Remind people that they indeed matter and offer them a meaningful way to contribute.
- Take care of your nervous system. For example, spend some time in nature or even look at a nature video, meditate for 5 minutes, do 3 yoga poses. Make it simple and doable.
- Read: How to Talk to Kids about the War in Gaza and Israel
- Read: Eleven Tips for Protecting Yourself from Upsetting Images on Social Media
- Read: When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron (One of my most dog-eared books!)
- Listen: Krista Tippett, Three Practices for Wisdom and Wholeness
Take care of yourself.