In my last blog, I spoke about how the Pixar film “Inside Out” has helped my family to recognize their emotions. I briefly brushed upon various ways that Brookhaven Retreat teaches how to cope with emotional issues. Now, I would like to get a bit more personal and discuss another life lesson that I’ve learned through this movie…dealing with change.
My family and I have recently gone through some substantial changes. In February 2015 my husband lost his job of 11 years with minimal knowledge other than one month‘s notice. Up to this point our routines, patterns, and expectations were set and we hadn’t questioned our stability. We quickly started to realize how comfortable we had gotten in our day-to-day lives and that the comforts we were so used to were about to diminish. At first we were feeling quite lost, but it had also been a blessing in disguise. For a few years, my husband had been feeling called to obtain a degree in something that he had a growing passion for. He was avoiding that desire due to wanting to uphold our comfortable life that we had built. His life needed to be shaken up in order to realize that his dreams and desires were not out of reach. The loss of his job gave him the “jolt” that he needed and projected us towards a different life path.
In the movie, “Inside Out,” the character, Riley faces a very similar situation. I think this is partly why my family can relate so well to the movie, because it’s timing was impeccable! The life-changing event that occurred in the movie was (ironically) a move to a new home, in a different state. Riley makes a great attempt not to experience sadness during this situation. When Riley’s mom notices that there is something unusual about Riley’s behavior, she tries a few different approaches to change her daughter’s emotions, which ultimately plunge Riley deeper into depression and isolation. Similar to Riley’s mom, I had no clue how to handle the life-changing situation and certainly made mistakes along the way.
When my husband and I determined that we were going to move, my biggest concern was how it would emotionally affect our daughters. I found myself trying to protect their feelings. I am well aware that your emotions can be directly related to your environment and the attitudes of the people around you can greatly impact your mood. I thought the only way I could protect them from the negative was by being (overly) positive about the situation. Unfortunately, I was creating a false sense of positivity because deep down, I did not want to move and was not happy about it. I didn’t want my negative mood to rub off on the girls, so I hid my fears and concerns. I’m not saying that this was the right thing to do but honestly, it’s the only thing I knew to do considering this was all new to me. I started to realize that I was setting them up for disappointment. It wasn’t appropriate for me to reveal only the positive emotions of this experience, because they will discover the “negative” emotions one way or another and I don’t want them to think that they are “bad” for having those feelings.
After coming to terms with our situation and rationalizing the circumstances, I talked sense into myself and began to dig deep to truly find the positives in the impending move. My approach changed and I began to express to my daughters how we would certainly be faced with positive and negative emotions and that is not bad, it is normal. What is important is the way we respond to those emotions.
Focusing on “Joy” has certainly helped me through this life transition. I certainly don’t have it all figured out and I don’t know what life will look like for my family in the next four years. What I do know is that Tennessee is beautiful, the people have been extremely kind and welcoming, and my family is doing just fine amidst the changes. I will continue to focus on the positives of the experience, and will recall one of my favorite quotes, “Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.”