Wisdom from Leisse Wilcox
by Jennifer Florendo
Did you ever think we would make it to the fall? We are almost to the end of 2020, thankfully … right? Back in March, at the start of quarantine, the thought was that we would be back to our normal, regularly scheduled lives by the end of summer. As the weeks went on, we slowly realized that “new normal” is not anything we have been used to, and likely—if ever—we may not see any semblance of that “old normal” again.
All this abrupt change and unknown has taken a toll on many—if not all—of us both mentally and emotionally. But what exactly is our mental and emotional health and the difference between the two? Leisse Wilcox, transformational mindset and success coach, author and podcaster of “To Call Myself Beloved,” shares her guidance on how to navigate the current times with the right mental and emotional health mindset.
“The notion that everything has gone (down the toilet) is not true. It purely is not true,” says Wilcox, who explained that mental and emotional health are two entirely different topics. She confronts how important it is to remove the labels that mental health issues can often bring and urges the acceptance of mental health as a medical condition.
“It is so fascinating to me that in the last few years we really opened up the conversation about mental health, which is beautiful because it starts to remove the stigma and the shame. It is like having a heart condition. There is no shame in that.”
Most of us are aware what mental health is, but what about emotional health? “Our emotional health refers to our emotional body. It is so rare we are taught or learn how to feel our feelings,” explained Wilcox.
To put that into real-life context, Wilcox takes us back to the days of our childhood with something most of us can relate to: sharing. “In childhood, when you fell off your bike or your friend took away your toy, it was ‘You are going to be ok.’ Or, ‘I know you are not done using this, but we must be polite.’ ‘I know you’re mad, but we have to be polite,’” said Wilcox.
Because of that, we were not taught how to truly feel our feelings or how to express them, likely out of fear of rejection or being judged. Instead of feeling those emotions, we turn to overeating, drinking or other habits to fill that emotional void and repress the emptiness.
If we were still living our pre-pandemic lives, we would be used to hearing, “Suck it up and deal with it,” or “Power through with your life.” The reality is that we are taught to live in an “either-or” way of life; either feeling our feelings or feeling sorry for ourselves. Wilcox explains that we do not have to live in that either-or way of life. “We are so much more complex than that. We can live in the space of both. You can feel your feelings and carry it with you to figure out where the feelings come from and then how to heal it before letting it go. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing,” she said.
Moving forward, powering through the rest of this year and feeling our feelings are all great concepts, but how do we truly do that? How is it that we can turn what we have experienced in 2020 into something dynamic?
There are two key factors that Wilcox suggests we use to make the most of the time we are in. The first, while still faced with unknowns, she suggests zooming out and taking inventory of the moment during this time of transition, and secondly, appreciate the time for what it is.
“Allow that space to pause and observe your feelings. Zoom out and appreciate the simple time. Appreciate that we are doing the best that we can. We might not get it right, but that is OK. That is part of the process,” said Wilcox.
“We have no idea when this is going to end. It is unknown; it is scary. It is physically exhausting,” she says. “It can feel so intense when you are laser focused on everything that is happening around us, with no deadline of when it is going to be different or what will different look like.”
Back when the COVID-19 pandemic began, there was a plethora of commercials saying “we are all in this together”—and several months later, that has not changed. “Everybody is trying to figure this out. No one knows what they are doing,” adds Wilcox. “This is a moment in time, it is not definitive of the rest of your life.”
If you have downtime, use it productively; whether it is picking up a new hobby or learning a new skill. Wilcox encourages us to think, “When the pandemic is over, what do you want to look back on and have to show for it? That you sat around in fear for months? Or is this the time that you learn to play board games with your kids, make sourdough or how to play a guitar? The only person who can make that happen is you. You have ownership over your life.”
Whether or not you zoom out or appreciate the situation we are in, Wilcox concludes with this: “We will be ok. We adapt. We can control what is happening inside of us, we can’t control what is happening around us.”
Above all, give yourself grace, remember that this too shall pass.
Leisse Wilcox is a transformational mindset and success coach, author of “To Call Myself Beloved: A Story of Hope, Healing, And Coming Home,” and podcaster of “To Call Myself Beloved—The Podcast With Leisse Wilcox,” available on iTunes, Google Play and Spotify. Learn more about her at leissewilcox.ca and on Instagram @LeisseWilcox.