Florilegia: The Whole Brain Child

One of the benefits of working as a school psychologist is that I spend a lot of time thinking and learning about mental health. Though I read many books and attend annual conferences in order to improve my professional practice, I also learn (and re-learn!) so much that applies to my own day-to-day life.

Consider this quote from The Whole Brain Child, by Dan Siegel:

Feelings are like the weather. Rain is real, and we’d be foolish to stand in a downpour and act as if it weren’t actually raining. But we’d be just as foolish to expect that the sun will never reappear.

How often do I feel stuck in a feeling? In anxious or sad moments, it’s so easy to believe that those feelings will last FOR-E-VER. This book explains, however, that on average, a feeling comes and goes in 90 seconds.Yes, really. 90 SECONDS.

Okay, sure. 90 seconds is not the whole story: our feelings can be re-triggered over and over by our thoughts and environment. But here’s the thing. It’s not infinite. All feelings are inherently temporary, just like all clouds, all storms, all sunshine.

A few months ago, I visited a friend who lives in Hawaii. One night we drove to the beach to watch a sunset, but by the time we arrived, it was R-A-I-N-I-N-G hard. Despite the weather, we still wanted to watch the sunset, so we decided to try waiting and watching from our car.

I know that the “rain” of our lives can be unbelievably painful. There are times when the rain becomes a hurricane and the devastation is inescapable. It is helpful to remember that even those moments – perhaps especially those moments – are not permanent.

After only a few minutes of sitting in the car, the clouds began to clear and the sun came out just in time to set. It was one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever witnessed.

So… we’re never stuck. Never ever. Eventually – probably sooner than you think – the clouds will pass and we’ll all find ourselves standing on a beach, watching a glowing sunset

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