Cam Taylor

Be inspired. Be focused. Be tenacious.

Two More Keys to Emotional Health After a Loss

Detour is a wealth of information on emotional processing. It gave me lots to digest and consider as I think about, what I would call, my small detours. I have faced many of my own issues positively but found the themes of forgiveness and brokenness especially helpful. Thanks Cam for sharing your work, wisdom, and your life. – Lorraine Tanner

Last week, I shared two keys to emotional health – emotional self-awareness and dancing with emotions. Today, I add two more puzzle pieces to achieving emotional health and wholeness – emotional self-mastery and deep crying.

You may not feel the need for these words right now, but the day will come when you will benefit from a readiness to embrace the emotional reality you feel after being impacted by a loss or traumatic event.

These thoughts come from the chapter on emotions in Detour.

Puzzle piece #3: Emotional self-mastery

Following on the heels of having emotional self-awareness and being able to dance with emotions is the need for self-mastery. Self-mastery is the ability to withstand the emotional storms that blow into our lives and is the opposite of becoming (to borrow a phrase from Hamlet) “passion’s slave.”

If our passions run our lives, we are taken out of the driver’s seat and left to blow in the winds of change. The goal with emotion is to find a balance between the extremes of emotional suppression and emotional excess. A life without passion would be a dull, gray wasteland of numbness.

Emotional self-mastery works at finding emotional balance. According to Aristotle, it involves appropriate feelings proportionate to the circumstance.

One emotion I dealt with frequently was sadness. Sadness hit me because of my losses, disappointments, and pain. My journey with sadness started with seeing it (self-awareness) and learning to embrace it (dancing with it), but then moved on to the point where I was able to let it ebb and flow within a range that would move me through it rather than leave me stuck in it (self-mastery).

Sadness wasn’t negative—it just was.

It was neutral, and it taught me something about myself. It became a messenger that told me there was work I needed to attend to. Sadness helped me come to terms with what I had lost and forced me to reduce my activities so I could focus on my emotional healing. Sadness put me into a “reflective retreat” mode so I could mourn, reflect, and process my grief.

Self-mastery relates to the whole spectrum of emotional reality. It calls us to respond with our whole being.

Puzzle piece #4: Valuing deep crying

Built into our beings is a physical mechanism intended to bring relief and inner healing. This mechanism scares a lot of people and is often avoided like the plague. The mechanism is the tears that flow from deep within. Crying is often misunderstood and underappreciated.

We are born to cry. Tears exist to make us well. Deep crying relieves the pain and stress we feel inside and is a critical part of the journey of grief.

Victor Hugo warned, “Those who do not weep, do not see.”

Tears were a close companion during my recovery. They weren’t always welcomed, but they were critical to keep me moving forward in my recovery. Deep crying is different from superficial tears. Deep crying heals the soul and unlocks the door to the inner journey to wholeness.

My unexpected experience with deep crying

Five months into my recovery, I hit the skids emotionally and physically. I had an unplanned emergency surgery to deal with the infection that was still active deep inside my leg. It felt as if I could hear the screeching of brakes all over again, bringing my life to a dead stop. My life was out of control, and the road ahead had suddenly become longer and rockier. That month of September was a dark time. I was ready to snap at the next person who asked me how I was doing. I was angry and confused, a mess.

But during that month, something unexpected happened. I was hit by two experiences of deep crying. These crying sessions surprised me, but they helped me move forward in my inner healing. One deep crying session came while I was in my hospital room surrounded by Vicky and two of our closest friends.

The crying hurt my gut, but it started to heal my soul. It was what I needed to let the grief out. The other deep crying session came just a couple of days later when a good friend sat by my bed and gave me the space to let another river of deep tears come pouring from deep within my soul.

During those deep crying sessions, my grief, anger, frustration, pain, and sorrow found a release, like the opening of a relief valve.

Had someone offered the Kleenex box too soon, those healing tears might have been cut off prematurely.

Final thoughts

The emotional well is deep, and in all honesty I have barely scratched the surface. Every part of me was impacted when the road ended. The emotional highs and lows were extreme. I celebrated a win when I took my first few steps while holding onto the parallel bars under the supervision of my physiotherapist. I was overwhelmed with fear when I read my CRP score (CRP stands for C-reactive protein and measures infection levels in the blood). I was afraid I would end up losing my leg in spite of all the hard work that had been done.

One truth that became clear to me when I was faced with the emotional side of recovery was the preparation I had unknowingly made for this challenge. Thankfully, for many years I had been practicing emotional self-awareness, dancing with emotion, self-mastery, and healthy crying.

What do you do when you find yourself slipping into unhealthy depression?

Invest in your personal growth this summer and pick up a copy of Detour now.

About Cam Taylor

Life and leadership coach, transition & change specialist, husband, dad, leader, writer, life long learner.

Leave a Reply