July 13, 2020
Familiar with Dear Abby or another advice column? Notes from Camp is our version!
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Today’s Life Lesson: Feeling bad about feeling bad is a trick.
Word of the Week: Non-Judgement
First of all, I love these newsletters every Monday! You inspire me.
I have been dealing with a rollercoaster of emotions through this pandemic. It has been clarifying at times and very murky at other times and been hard to label what I’m feeling as it’s so much at once.
I’m writing to see if you have any wisdom to share on separating these three emotions (I’m having a hard time defining them in myself): anger, grief and shame. Anger seems the most direct and potent, while grief and shame seem to blend together. I am feeling these emotions more than I ever have all at once. I know there is a great lesson to be had but right now, I feel like I am just sitting with a mess of emotions.
Em (New York)
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I’m so glad you wrote in about this, and I’m holding space for all of your emotions.
It is not surprising to hear you are feeling more anger, grief and shame than ever before. I’ve been feeling the same and have heard similar experiences from others. So first off, know that you are not alone.
These are all tricky emotions—anger, grief and shame—especially since, as women, we have historically not been made to feel safe to express them. There’s a certain irony to feeling anger, grief and shame because you feel anger, grief and shame! It’s a tactic of the patriarchy to keep women silent.
Reflecting on my own experiences dealing with these emotions the past few months, I noticed I was spending a lot of energy trying to tease out what was causing them so I could “get better” at not feeling them and make my discomfort go away. I only found relief once I stopped trying to find a solution and explanation, and instead, allowed them to move through me without judging myself in the process.
Perhaps the greater lesson for you right now is less about what exactly is causing the anger, grief and shame (which, given the current climate, could be any number of things like your own personal safety, the death of others, fear of the future, racial injustice, wealth inequality, job security, the list goes on) and more about learning to accept your emotional experiences exactly as they are, without judgment.
As someone who intellectualizes their emotions, which often just adds salt to the wound, I’m wondering if this might be happening to you, too. This is an especially important point if you are an empath or highly sensitive, as the anger, grief and shame you currently feel may not even be yours. Instead of trying to dissect where your emotions are coming from (which is a futile effort if they are coming from the collective), try to create space for them.
I’ll leave you with this: I think we are all feeling anger, grief and shame right now, because we are in the midst of a collective awakening. We carry the anger, grief and shame of our ancestors in our bodies and it’s all rising to the surface as our world begins to wake up and listen. Be gentle with yourself. This is the deep work. And I. Am. Here. For. it.
Loved this Note from Camp and want to submit your own? Send it to Elizabeth here!
Ask Yourself: In this moment, how can I honor my emotions without judging them?
Weekly Mantra: It’s okay to feel more than one thing at once.
When in Doubt, Jam It Out!
Alane by Robin Schulz, Wes (Be sure to follow the Spotify playlist called “Jam it Out with Elizabeth” to stay up-to-date with the weekly jams 🎵)
Things I Think You’ll Love:
Non-judgmental Awareness – Habits of Mind is a helpful overview by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Therapy, about the concept of non-judgemental awareness and why it’s not about ceasing to judge but, as he says, “not judging the judging.”
Meditation is a great way to practice non-judgmental awareness. Check out this collection of meditations led by POC on Insight Timer.