This Christmas, I bought myself a special gift, Brené Brown’s new book, Atlas of the Heart. It is a book that catalogs emotions (both traits and states) and gives a new level of precision to the language we use to express how we feel. I need this book.
I’m not a person who finds it easy to express emotions. I’ve spent a lot of my life living strictly inside my own head and that’s cost me on many levels. Oh, I can speak my truth and tell someone that I love them. I can demonstrate my upset and even my rage when necessary but, I’m not good at just letting my emotions flow and even worse at consciously naming them.
In an early chapter Brown explores a cluster of emotions known to every caregiver I’ve ever encountered: Stress, Overwhelm, Anxiety, Worry, Avoidance, Excitement, Dread, Fear, and Vulnerability. Her straightforward explanations that differentiate these words brought tears to my eyes. I’ve known each one of them as a caregiver but could rarely, in the moment, have named them that precisely.
Maybe my heart-felt connection to this cluster was particularly accessible to me because of the course I’ve been struggling to finish and launch, Overwhelmed to Overjoyed. . .
I know that part of the “stuck-ness” I’ve been feeling has to do with believing in my own choice of words. Are caregivers EVER truly overjoyed? And if so, what does that genuinely look like?
I don’t want to produce something fraudulent – something not-quite-true – and try to sell my readers on a notion that isn’t really available, even with transformation. So, I do believe that this is why it’s taken me over a year to move from concept to conclusion and get this course out there, available to caregivers.
On page 204 of Atlas of the Heart, Brown describes Joy this way, “sudden, unexpected, short-lasting, high-intensity.” And she goes on to say it is characterized by, “a connection with others, with God, nature, or the universe. Joy expands our thinking and attention, and it fills us with a sense of freedom and abandon.”
What struck me in her words was the reassurance that I actually got it right!
Overwhelmed is an emotional state almost every caregiver has known. Certainly, that’s true of the majority of caregivers who become my clients – they’ve known that sense of “extreme stress. . .to the point of being unable to function.”
I know I felt that, when I was working a corporate job and trying to tend to my husband’s ever-increasing needs – completely overwhelmed.
And, what’s possible through the transformation brought about by self-care, or learning how to make your own welfare and wellbeing a priority, is a sense of JOY, even being overjoyed! It is as if the realization of your own right to freedom washes over you like a tidal wave of energy that changes everything.
Because honestly, it isn’t a state of bliss; it is an intense and sudden awareness that you are no longer purely a captive to your chore list, your responsibilities, and your circumstances. You are FREE to think differently about the work ahead, to re-conceive your way of doing things and to gain fresh perspective on the “burden” of caregiving. THAT’S what I want to convey in this course!
Starting in January, I’ll be putting out some quick videos each week on my business Facebook page, Co-Create 4 Life | Facebook, to let caregivers know what the course, Overwhelmed to Overjoyed, will be about, how to access it and why it can be transformative in their lives. So, if you know someone who needs that encouragement, please send them my way!
I trust that among YOUR holiday gifts this season was at least one item that touched you at your core as this book has touched me.
If you’re a fan of Brené Brown, I urge you to consider reading this, her most recent book Atlas of the Heart, it is a delightful read! And, if you’re a caregiver (or know one) especially one who’s encountered that sense of overwhelm, I urge you to watch for my course – sure to be available in 2022, now that I’m confident I’m on the right track!