“We’re Going on a bear hunt.
We’re going to catch a big one.
What a beautiful day!
We’re not scared.”
So starts Michael Rosen’s book for children.
I was thinking of this book the other day as I was talking to my friend Richard (and — by the way – I have his permission to share this with you.)
At the end of last summer, Richard broke up with his long-time serious girlfriend. They were about to move in together when, suddenly, she changed her mind and said goodbye. Richard was devastated.
He asked, as you do, “What went wrong?” “What did I do wrong?” “What could I have done differently?” It’s a treadmill of questions with no answers.
Time moved on. He found other activities to occupy his mind; reconnected with old friends, but now, in lock-down, he is entirely on his own and the old questions have come back to haunt his mind; running around and around like spectral squirrels in a ghostly cage.
We discussed where he wants to be — a place of forgiveness and peace; a place where he can honestly say, “I wish her well.” He is a long way from that place and that peace.
We discussed the anger and frustration and sorrow that surround a breakup and he made a discovery. “I thought I could jump straight to that place,” he said. “I told myself I was there. But I wasn’t.”
In Michael Rosen’s book, the family must traverse a series of obstacles before they find their bear.
Long wavy grass.
We can’t go over it.
We can’t go under it.
We’ve got to go through it!”
They are confronted with a cold river, thick oozy mud, a dark forest and a swirling snowstorm before they find their bear. There is no going around any of these things; they must go through them all.
It’s not just a break-up which presents these challenges; we go through them all countless times; life is an emotional journey.
The problem for many of us is not the feelings themselves, it is our judgment of those feelings. We tell ourselves that we “shouldn’t” feel this way. We deny the feelings and lock them away. The result is, they only grow stronger in the darkness; then they bite us like that bear.
Another friend of mine is coaching her team through this lock-down. “What are you feeling?” she asks – and goes on asking. “Where in your body are you feeling it?”
Once the feeling has been identified, her invitation is to, “Just be with it. Allow the feeling to be, without judgement. The feeling is not wrong, nor right; it just is.”
We can be angry, frustrated, resentful, sad; we can feel all those things. And we can get through them.
We may not catch our bear in the end, but we can find peace and acceptance – even joy — in our situation.
And that’s better than a bear.
A Moodscope member.
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