by Joseph Reid, 2023
The cemetery where I am writing this article is so peaceful and super quiet (Fuller and Knapp if you wanna check it out). I prefer my cemeteries that way. It seems like there is noise everywhere I go. It’s an emotional day for me as I think about recent struggles that loved ones are facing. What do YOU do when people you care deeply for are suﬀering? How is anyone suppose to process this stuﬀ?
I was listening today to a podcast about ﬁre ﬁghters. They run, literally, into a lot of diﬃcult situations; oftentimes leading to emotional trauma. In therapy, these brave men and women are encouraged to tell stories as a way to process through pain. Many times, when they get to a place where they are ﬁnally able to share their story, it comes gushing out in waves of grief. That “gush,” it’s scary. But the release is healing. Getting to that place where courage overrides fear is not an easy task.
When I am struggling with a situation, it’s really hard to process it inside my head. Don’t get me wrong, I do try. But it’s like each troubling thought is a race-car traveling around in my head at 200 mph and there’s no way to catch it. And, as you can imagine, trying to stop a race-car at 200 mph doesn’t seem like a very safe and fun idea. I think it’s that way with thoughts as well. So, today I decided to hop into my 2014 Ford Focus and go for a drive. I wasn’t in a place where I could process my emotions at home, so I found somewhere else. This cemetery. For writers or journalers, if ever you ﬁnd yourself with writer’s block or stuck with racing thoughts, one thing you can do is change where your head is. Think of a peaceful, beautiful place you can drive to and then just sit in that space for a while. Here are a few things I’m letting myself do in this quiet space as I process the race cars in my head:
1. Accept my feelings and thoughts as ok. There is no perfect way to feel things. And the way I am feeling it right now is the way I need to feel it.
2. Be quiet. Look around. Appreciate the beauty of where you are right now. Maybe you’ll really have to search. That’s good! That “searching” is a great exercise in intentional living.
3. Let your feelings out. I do this with a pen and paper. I tell stories and write about how I feel in my journal. Sometimes going for a walk is the ticket! Have a chat with God, yourself, or the squirrels. Squirrels are really great listeners, especially if you have snacks.
One last thing. I could sit here in this cemetery all day, but that would suck. I’m setting a time limit on this little emotional excursion. Setting limits on stuﬀ and making concrete goals is a great way to strengthen your self-control muscle and to maintain emotional balance in your life.
Do you feel like it’s the Indy 500 in your head right now? Are your thoughts spinning or can you feel your emotions getting out of whack? Try the three steps listed above and then tell someone about it. Can’t think of anyone? I’d love to hear about it! You can email me at Joe@broken-people.org.