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One Little Word: April 2020 Update

It’s the last Tuesday of the month and that means it’s time to join with Honoré and reflect back on the last four weeks and my journey with my One Little Word.

In case you forgot, my word is open. And I’m sort of struggling with being open right now. It’s mostly, of course, because of the pandemic. Being open sounds so . . . vulnerable. And not vulnerable in a sharing my feelings way but vulnerable like not protecting myself against the virus way. If I look at the word metaphorically, though (and really, that’s sort of the whole point of this One Little Word thing) then I can say I’ve made some progress with being open.

What I’ve really tried to capture this month, and it’s not an easy thing for me, is being open to my feelings. I’m a pretty big believer in acknowledging (and celebrating!) happy feelings but when it comes to the other feelings . . . the feelings I’m having a lot lately . . . the feelings I label as scared, confused, frustrated, uncontrollable . . . well, I’d just as soon avoid those in the same way that I’m avoiding the grocery store these days.

You know that doesn’t work, right? Because when I fail to acknowledge my feelings and emotions they don’t actually go away. Oh no. Instead, they tend to show up in physical ways. I cry. I pick a fight. I overeat. It’s not pretty, it’s not healthy, and it’s just plain not good.

The key, I am learning, is to acknowledge the feelings and lean all the way into them. The crappy feelings go away (not always immediately but always eventually) when I name them and accept them and release them. In other words: the feelings I don’t like go away when I am open to them.

So, in this time of pandemic, I want to acknowledge the fear and uncertainty and disappointment. And in doing so, I open myself up to the lessons I am learning and I vow to allow them to help me grow.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. I love this! One of my favorite Pema Chodron quotes: “You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.” I try to remember that emotions and feelings come and go like clouds and they don’t define me. They might obscure me or they might brighten me up from time to time, but they’re not ME.

    Thanks for this post – it’s excellent!

  2. You really did stumble upon a perfect word for this very weird year, Carole. I know you struggled with this word from the get-go, but . . . wow! Look where it’s taking you! Sometimes these words of ours have so much power if we open ourselves to them. (No pun intended there.) Thank you for sharing! This is powerful learning. XOXO

  3. You’ve so beautifully captured in this post what took me years of therapy to realize: Ignoring the unpleasant feelings doesn’t make them go away and in fact can make their effects worse. Acknowledging them and examining them is hard, but it’s so much more productive and healthy to do it so that we can let those feelings go. Keep working on it, Carole — you’re doing a great job!

  4. I agree with Kym, this is the perfect word for this insane year. I have found that when I am struggling with how I am feeling, meditation is my friend. And, boy has that practice helped me in these uncertain days. XO

  5. I love how your word is working for you Carole and really how you are working for your word. (Does that make sense?) I feel like I’m growing through you and your reflections.

  6. Excellent – great summary, great post. This word – OPEN – just seems so perfect for you Carole. Thank you for sharing.

  7. You are really experiencing a thorough exploration of your word! Good for you for acknowledging all of the feelings, both positive and negative.

  8. I think acknowledging feelings whether good or bad is vital for individual growth. Your willingness to be open and share what you are feeling is probably helping others in ways you may never know.

  9. I just read Chapter 8 in When Things Fall Apart – that’s the chapter where she talks about the Eight Worldly Dharmas. and how it’s our interpretation of what happens that ends up controlling us. We have to let go the interpretation and just be … then “we can find a means for growing wiser, kinder, more content.” and it seems like that’s exactly what this word is doing for you. (in slightly different words, of course 😉 It’s awesome, Carole, and I so appreciate the real-life example!

  10. What an eloquent post. I think you are very wise – remaining open to the sadness and sorrow. I do better when I name these things and acknowledge that they are real.

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