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How to process emotions

behaviour change Jun 29, 2022

Hello lovelies, Dr Lucy here. As I am writing this, I’m sitting on my deck on Cocos Keeling Islands a small archipelago of remote tropical islands in the Indian Ocean about 1000km west of Western Australia.

This is the long-awaited family holiday that was booked in September 2019, six months before the pandemic started and way before Real Life Medicine was formed.  The island is a diving mecca and as my husband and 2 daughters are dive fanatics, it seemed like the perfect family holiday. I would relax, read books, soak in glorious sunshine and go to the cafes while they would dive and then return to share their stories of spectacular reefs, colourful fish and encounters with sharks.

But things haven’t quite turned out that way.

The trip was postponed and rearranged 3 times due to Covid. This mainly affected my husband, Ty who is our travel agent extraordinaire and put hours and hours into booking flights, accommodation, etc all around our busy schedules.

Right until the last day It was touch and go as to whether we’d even go.

The stress levels in our house were high.

My youngest daughter got Covid two days before we left and so isn’t with us. She’s very sad she missed out. She is backpacking in Queensland and so I spent a few hours organising alternate accommodation, ensuring she and her friend were well and had enough food.

Now the island has a Covid outbreak so all the cafes are closed. 

There are no restaurants open.

There is no glorious sunshine. There’s lots of tropical rain and humidity.

Unless you are diving, there is in fact nothing to do.

The other change from our original booking time is that Real Life Medicine, my absolute passion has been born. I love it with all my heart and serving the RLM community has been a joy that I never realised I would experience. The thing is I can’t do it from here.

The internet is very basic. I can send a couple of emails. That’s it. Most people would say, just relax and enjoy yourself but I have big plans. I have so many ideas that are bubbling away. My brain is brimming and this holiday would provide the time and space to execute some of them. But to do that I need the internet and zoom.

Tropical Islands endure harsh conditions. These islands are alone in the middle of the vast Indian ocean. They are actually really rugged. The houses are weathered. The roads are potholed. The cars are rusted. The footpaths are cracked.

The island is a carol atoll, the beaches are rocky and filled with jagged shells and bits of coral.

In the two and half years since we booked this, my mobility has declined. I am now much more dependent on my scooter and let’s face it, sand and mobility scooters are not good friends. 

Why am I telling you all this? 

Well, this is part of my processing. We have been doing a journaling challenge in Momentum this month. Writing things down. Getting them out of our brain and onto paper, or in this case, a keyboard gives us much clarity.

So here I am on a tropical island holiday that I’m not enjoying. 

It sounds so ungrateful. 

To say it out loud sounds petulant, selfish, and ridiculous.

My brain is telling me “Lucy you should be enjoying this. You should be grateful you’re here. Ty put in so much effort, just try and be a bit happy. Stop being such a downer. Just enjoy nature. Stop being so negative. After all most people would give their right arm to be here.”

But here’s the thing, if I were to simply accept these thoughts are true, then I’m really gaslighting myself.

The truth is this holiday is hard for me. I basically stay in our bungalow. My deck has a lovely view. I would really like to be able to use this time to write more blogs, record some podcasts, and do my social media posts but without the internet, I can’t do it. Believe me, I’ve tried and watching the wheel of death has sucked the last morsel of joy out of my bones.

I am wrestling with the idea that I will have to postpone my coaching calls for this week.

I feel like I’m letting people down, all for a holiday I’m not really enjoying. 

I feel like I’m letting my hubby down who put such a lot of work in and has basically brought me to a place where I feel like I’m trapped.

Argghh such big emotions. These are uncomfortable and in the past, I would have shovelled them down deep. Buried under mountains of chocolate and lollies.  

So, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to practice radical acceptance.

I can’t change anything here.

I can’t magic up the sunshine

I can’t improve the internet

I can’t change the Covid situation.

All of these things are outside my control.

I accept that the holiday would be more fun if I could walk and swim here but I can’t so I’m allowed to be sad about that. 

I accept that I’m a bit lonely and missing my community and loneliness is a normal human emotion. 

I going to stop fighting with the internet and accept that my big ideas will still be there next week. 

I going to accept that although some people will be disappointed I can’t do this week’s coaching calls, we have time at the end of the 12 weeks (which is actually 13 weeks) and so no one misses out.

And I’m going to use the next 5 days to disconnect from technology because maybe, just maybe, the universe is trying to tell me nothing bad will happen if you don’t go online for 5 days. 

When it's not raining, I am going to spend some time under the big tree outside my bungalow that looks over the sea. I’m going to do some meditating and I’m going to read some books - you know the ones made of paper.

My reflections on coming to a place like this are how grateful I am that technology exists and that I have such great access to it. That as a person with a disability, my ability to communicate with those I care about is vastly enriched by technology. I’m grateful for good quality roads and pavements. I’m grateful for the easy accessibility around my home and I’m incredibly grateful to have created a life that I find so fulfilling.

So my lovelies, I thoroughly recommend journalling when you are having trouble with your emotions. Writing them down, helps me gain perspective, and allows me to validate my thoughts and feelings. Then I can make a plan. 

I always feel better when I make a plan and remember that’s what all of us humans want to do-feel better.



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