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The Freedom of Moving Forward

It is good to feel our feelings, including the uncomfortable, sad, and anxious ones. Ignoring them doesn't make them go away. We need to face the reality we're in, and be willing to examine the feelings that come up as we do so.

But not set a table for them to live forever with us.

Ruminate is a funny word, at least to me. It makes me think of old men out in the country, wearing overalls, whittling a stick as they sit in a rocker on their porch, ruminating about ideas.

But in psychology, rumination means something a little different. Rumination is when we keep running over the same ideas and emotions, over and over, without moving on, without trying to come up with some productive next steps.

Ever see a child do this? They can't find their favorite socks, and so they just keep repeating over and over the reality that they want, without trying to improve the situation or accept it and come up with a new plan. You suggest they look in the dirty clothes hamper. Or wear their Big Bird socks rather than the Elmo socks. But no, they don't want to hear it. They are stuck in a reality they don't want to be in.

Stuck in a reality they don't want to be in ... hey, I can relate! This isn't just for little ones!

Throwing a pity party, thinking of the pre-existing wounds we brought into quarantine with us, and taking time to clear off the emotional clipboard -- these are steps to help us identify and disassemble barriers that are in our way of finding authentic wholeness as we live in The Except.

When we find ourselves in these repeating looping thoughts, it can be helpful to talk to someone. A friend, a minister, a therapist. Someone we trust, who can listen as we process our feelings, but who will also nudge us with, "Okay, so what are you going to do next?"

(But beware co-rumination, which is an especially tricky barrier, because it feels so comforting, yet it is still trapping us, keeping us from moving forward.)

We are living in The Except. We don't know when it will end. Our feelings may be all over the place, a roller-coaster of "doing fine" and being in despair. All normal.

But we need to keep moving forward. We have people who depend on us. And we draw courage from each other. We en-courage each other, bring hope when hope is hard to find, serve as each other's cheering section. Right now, people are doing quiet feats, managing both job and family while both are happening in the same place, stretching themselves to use new technology to reach out to others who are alone, and living under some very scary circumstances. "I SEE you working hard" can be just the fuel they need to get through another day, shoulders squared, head held high.

The life we knew is, to some extent, over. But we must go on and do the next right thing.


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