“I’m feeling unbearably sad about what’s going on.”

“I’m feeling unbearably sad about what’s going on.”
July 13, 2016 Ann Weiser Cornell

Focusing Tip #518


“How can any of us handle the anger and fear and grief from the news this week?”


Bill writes:
This past week a young African-American man was shot and killed by a police officer, a few miles from where I live. I wish that you and other gifted Focusing teachers could help train police during these turbulent times. I feel frightened about the future of a 6-year-old boy I care about who is African-American. How can any of us handle the anger and fear and grief from the news this week… and many other weeks?

Dear Bill:
I’m so glad you wrote. I too am feeling almost unbearably sad at what’s going on, and helpless, and worried.

There are actions we can take, but we may not even know what they are until we can think more clearly. Emotional overwhelm makes it harder to think and to act from a larger perspective.
Without that clarity, we can make mistakes in logic, like thinking that a killer who says he’s in favor of a certain organization was somehow sponsored by that organization.

Emotional overwhelm is something I do know how to help with.

If we try not to feel our feelings, that doesn’t work. If we let our feelings sweep us away and act out of them, unexamined, that doesn’t work either. In fact, unexamined fear is probably the real source of the violence we’re in mourning over right now.

So what we need to do is turn toward our feelings…with awareness, with curiosity, with compassion.

When we do that, we access our empowered state of Self-in-Presence, the experience of being bigger than our feelings. When we are Self-in-Presence, we are able to be compassionate toward our own emotional states, which allows those emotions to feel more manageable and makes them less likely to lead to unconsidered action.

Of course just accepting our feelings is not enough, and is not the end of it. But it allows us the clarity and the compassion to connect with others, and together to find the actions that move the situation forward for the life development of everyone involved.

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