Loss is the one thing we all have in common.
The divorce. The accident. The miscarriage. When the doctor said it’s cancer. The day you lost your job. Or your mom. Or the love of your life. Whatever it was for you. The moment your world stopped—that’s what we’re here to talk about.
But too few of us do talk about it. Why?
In our grief-phobic society, most of us haven’t been taught how to deal with loss. Instead we’re taught how to avoid pain. That collective avoidance of hurt has left most of us lacking in emotional literacy. We experience all of the same hard feelings but, when we try to share them, we feel about as coherent as our college selves did after six shots of Jose Cuervo… It ain’t a pretty picture.
The trouble is that when we can’t express the hurt, we feel alone in it.
Worse still, without outlet, those feelings get trapped inside us and wreak havoc on our minds and bodies.
A few weeks ago, right before the release of my latest book, I went live on Instagram to share a bit about emotional literacy: what it is, how we lost it and why reclaiming it is so important for our emotional health. Let’s talk about it together now.
Emotional Literacy: What, How, Why
A few big takeaways:
- Grief doesn’t just follow the loss of a loved one. Grief can be triggered by the loss of a job, the end of a friendship or relationship, a scary diagnosis and many other life events.
- We don’t have to be in a full-blown grief-a-palooza to feel the physical side effects that accompany unprocessed hard feelings. Those include: depression, anxiety, appetite loss or gain, digestive issues, fatigue, malaise, lower immunity, aches, pains, inflammation, insomnia or too much sleep, heart issues and so on.
- Since most of us have adopted unhealthy coping mechanisms, it’s important to bring an awareness to how you currently deal with pain. Do you drink, shop, dive into work, etc.? And are your go-to mechanisms numbing the pain or are they truly helping you heal?
- Emotional physics is my term for the seemingly-sideways consequences that occur when we try to resist our hard feelings. When we shove those feelings down, that energy isn’t lost. It just manifests in more sucky and less constructive ways.
- The work of emotional literacy may feel heavy, but it actually lightens you. Most of us are carrying immensely heavy emotional loads. By processing our experiences, we can finally tap into the lightness we crave.
- Emotional literacy comes in two steps. Step 1 is identifying what emotion you’re experiencing. Step 2 is learning to articulate it.
- As our emotional literacy expands, our emotional health improves.
Now it’s your turn. How are you actually feeling today? Let’s practice the first step of emotional literacy and dig beyond “good” or “fine.” Share your response in the comments.
All my love,