THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Robert Levithan Headshot

Crisis: Remembering and Beginning...

Posted: Updated:

Some of life's lessons cannot be learned ahead of time. Yet, over and over again, clients, friends, strangers lament that "I don't understand... I'm overwhelmed and confused... I'm not equipped to handle [this challenge]..."

We forget who we are in these moments. Most of us have already handled bigger challenges than what we are facing, and if not, we have the skills and psychic muscle-power to deal and grow from the process. Grief or a diagnosis can change our lives in a moment, but we were not born yesterday.

Accepting disappointment. Accepting loss. Accepting heartbreak. They are part of a normal life, not a failure. Clients come to me hoping to skip over their suffering. It's not recommended, it's probably not even possible. The pain lives below the surface when we stuff it down and never gets released. Emotions -- all emotions -- have a charge. In order to remain healthy, we need to release any built-up charge. That's why we have art. Films are the perfect example: We go to a tear-jerker for a good cry. We go to a comedy for a good laugh. We might go to a horror film for a good scream. A political thriller might invoke our righteous anger. A romance brings on loving feelings.

Health is about balance. We need to feel all our feelings and release all the different charges. Same thing with rhythms: We need fast, slow, medium, passive, aggressive and meditative. There are no negative emotions -- some emotions are tricky when it comes to releasing charge -- like anger. We can release anger without upsetting our environment. Simply saying "I am angry" is enough, much of the time. Violence is not an acceptable release of anger. We need to contain it and manage its release -- talking, exercising, writing, seeing a therapist or attending a group.

Sometimes, the only thing to do is to step back and observe your mind thinking its overblown thoughts. We cannot tell the mind NOT to think of something. We can engage it elsewhere or watch it play itself out. "Wow, my mind is really messing with me right now..."

Again, remembering who we already are helps -- not forgetting all that you have already survived and/or coped with. Whatever is happening is not only a challenge, but another opportunity for transforming growth -- even when we don't want it. Our job is to show up for it, ourselves and our loved ones.

In some cases we are learning a new language. The language of grief is usually not learned until we have grieved. Language acquisition requires patience and adaptibilty When faced with a new type of crisis, we often have to let ourselves be beginners and "not know" what we have not yet learned.

Curiosity about the process and compassion for oneself go a long way! Be a beginner with a history that has equipped you to work through and transform what life presents. Perhaps even learn a new language...

For more by Robert Levithan, click here.

For more on emotional wellness, click here.

From Our Partners