Mixed Emotions. Where Relief and Guilt Intersect
By Jennifer Worley, LPC
In talking with adults in life's various stages on how they are experiencing social distancing and current events, there's been a variety of emotions expressed. Some of the more prevalent feelings discussed include: Anxiety, loneliness, stress and frustration. Here we will touch on one that is also coming up yet isn't discussed as openly, relief. Typically, relief would not be an emotion that would elicit guilt, but in this landscape, most people who mention relief simultaneously discuss guilt with it.
The relief is coming from a release of the fear of missing out or a release of the shoulds (I should go to that activity but I'm tired, I should squeeze in the gym before getting my child to soccer etc) Yes, people might be longing for additional interactions, but it may not be as bad as they anticipated it would be.
To have the knowledge that no one is partaking of extra curricular activities and thus there is nothing that is being missed out on, can generate that sense of...relief or calm. However, watching the news and taking in the gravity of the suffering both in health and economically, the experience of feeling relief can quickly become incongruent, thus guilt weaves its way in.
Emotions right now will be mixed and changing. Further, what you are experiencing right now might be entirely different than what another person in your own home might be experiencing in this moment. Resist the urge to assign labels of good or bad to the emotion and instead notice it and name it. When it's time to reflect back on this experience there will be lessons to be learned on how one wants to conduct their activities of daily life in the future that are perhaps different than those of the past. Emotional awareness and reflection will be a good guide.
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[This article does not create a client-counselor relationship. This article is general counseling information and is not to be considered legal or medical advice. Please consult with your mental health professional before you rely on this information.]