The Power of AND

Social media has been inundated with visuals and stories which have brought about the voices of many who have experienced the events of last week in South Africa. 

So many people hurting, angry, confused, unsure and scared. So many people emerging with stories of hope, kindness, support, unity. As I read the stories, I wonder which group I am in. There are moments in my day(s) where I feel shocked or angry or even numb. In the same day I find myself experiencing gratitude at the kindness of my neighbour’s, the concerns of my loved ones and the continued bravery of my husband and all those who give up time to patrol our city. 

Is it possible to experience two contrasting feelings at the same time? To feel sad and yet hopeful? To feel worried or anxious and yet the courage to engage with each day. 

Speaking to people around me it sounds to me that you are supposed to feel either one way or the other.   

You are either: 

  • Negative or Positive
  • Anxious or Calm 
  • Sacred or Courageous 
  • Feeling Stuck or Moving on 

According to Robyn Brickel, this little word, AND, allows us to hold more than one feeling instead of just one: 

  • Anxious and Calm 
  • Sad and Hopeful 
  • Disappointment and Acceptance 
  • Scared and Courageous 

AND allows both truths to exist at once. The practice of AND could offer us the space we need to notice all our feelings that we may currently have without invalidating how we feel. 

As I reflected on a list that Robyn Brickel shares regarding what the word AND can do for you especially when you are trying to heal from trauma the following resonated: 

  • It can allow you to accept and express the nuances of human emotion. 
  • It allows for you to struggle and still provide yourself with self-care and compassion. 
  • It can help you heal trauma and create secure attachment by knowing that you can be vulnerable and safe.  
  • You can navigate through tough emotions and still be okay. 
  • It allows for to feel like running away and instead to choose to sit with your uncomfortable feelings. 
  • It means understanding that you may be using a coping mechanism and you are not your behaviours. 
  • It can help you hold uncomfortable feelings and expand your window of tolerance. We can feel both discomfort and acceptance at the same time.

It has been a comforting practice to apply the power of and to my day-to-day feelings and thoughts. It has given me permission to sit with uncomfortable feelings through acknowledging them as well as knowing I can continue to connect to my values and beliefs to carry me through despite the environment. 

Author: Célia Senekal

Image: Annie Spratt

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