Is 4 months a date I can mark as an anniversary? I feel silly telling people it’s been four months since my best friend passed away. Who wants to hear that anyway, I think…. I keep it to myself.
Nobody knows what I’m feeling. Grief is a ride that I can’t get off of and I can’t predict how I’ll feel day to day. Some days I feel OK and other days I’m on the struggle bus. On the days I cry easy or retreat emotionally, I wonder what people must think of me.
Grief has been a gift in some ways. I realize I don't know zilch about what other people are going through.
I wonder as I go through my day: driving my car, grocery shopping, and walking my dogs, what are other people going through that I have no idea about? What’s happened or is happening that is challenging or joyful? I have no idea. And yet, I act like I do. Let me explain.
I can create a story about someone, judge, and condemn them faster than superman can fly around the world (Superman was grieving the loss of Lois when he did that). It doesn’t stop there either, I feel justified! What the heck? Why do I do that?
Here’s the kicker, it has nothing to do with that person – for real. My reaction, my story, and judgement have everything to do with me. Even with the toughest personalities (this is the justified feeling), and we all have at least one in our life.
Consider this… When you’re feeling good, do you judge and condemn strangers for no reason? Do you dare people (in your mind) to say something even a little off so you can give them a piece of your mind? No! The day is brighter and the forecast is clear skies 😊
There is an antidote the harsh judgements.
Compassion, kindness, and self-love.
When I catch myself making up stories and judging random, innocent people, I take a personal time out. Harshing out on other people isn't how I want to spend my time and energy.
Why am I doing this? The answer usually comes back to me feeling dissatisfied or uncomfortable. If I don’t take the time to be with my thoughts and emotions my energy is misdirected by focusing on other people. Turns out I’m avoiding my own discomfort.
Image credit: Anger and Sadness from the movie Inside Out
Here's what I do, I use the antidote...
I pause and check in with myself. How am I feeling in this moment? I'm curious, let go of judgement, and just feel.
Sometimes I’m frustrated, sad, or angry. So good to know! This is important information to process. What is creating my frustration, sadness, or anger?
Right now, for me, it's grief.
If I give myself some time to sit with the emotion without pushing it aside or down, I stop harshing on other people. A short time-out with myself provides huge rewards for me and those around me.
I’m not an expert in this practice by a long-shot because it’s a practice. I’m building my self-awareness muscles. I’m building my tolerance to sit with emotion to understand myself better.
Image credit: The Boy, the mole, the fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
Kindness for ourselves is the starting point.
The loss of my friend and grief teach me all the time. The most important so far is kindness.
Offer kindness to yourself and others. It doesn’t cost a thing and the benefits are priceless.