29 May Mentionable and Manageable
“I’m getting really tired of being alone,” a friend said, tears flowing down her face.
“I’m angry I don’t get to have my graduation ceremony,” a high school student confided.
“I’m disappointed we can’t go on the cruise we’ve looked forward to for a year,” someone lamented on a telephone call.
What is unusual yet common about these comments? They all focus on feelings…It is as if the horrific death toll juxtaposed with awe-inspiring stories of everyday heroes who live and die serving us all has ignited a volcano of emotions.
Our feelings are stirred by the tragic faces of seniors in a nursing home, a bus driver, a grocery store clerk, or a nurse who fell victim to COVID-19 and died. We are touched by the doctors and drivers, police and service workers who risk their lives daily to ensure we have the food, transportation and medical care we need.
The dark and seemingly endless days of social distancing and distant socializing may be leading to something new: We have more time and space to access and process our own emotions. Fred McFeely Rogers, creator of the preschool television series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, would approve.
There is power that comes in naming our feelings. We don’t need to feel guilty for feeling the way we do. What we experience are feelings, our feelings. And they matter. They add depth to human life. And when we name them and talk about them, we can truly feel better. And if we feel better, we can be better.
Mr. Rogers taught us as children: “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.” (Aug. 2, 2018)
So let’s feel our feelings. Let’s talk about our feelings with people we trust, remember what Mr. Rogers said: If it’s mentionable, it’s manageable.
Carol B. Pitts, PhD, LPC, LMFT, CPCS, is Clinical Director of CHRIS Counseling – DeKalb. You can reach her at carol.pitts@CHRIS180.org