There I was, mid-day, in the grocery store, really excited to get plantains. I don't know what it is, but I've been obsessed with plantains ever since I was a kid. I am Haitian, so having plantains everyday is probably my birthright.
As I approached the plantain stand though, a fellow human was taking the last one. And, immediately -- tears started welling up; I felt incredibly defeated and frustrated, and wanted to go straight home. My mind started playing "Here comes the grief, little darling," to the tune of The Beatles' Here Comes the Sun...
...which is actually a hopeful song, but I love that my mind was able to quickly switch the lyrics in that moment. It's tough when we're just trying to live our lives -- running errands, spending time with loved ones, exercising, reading, watching a silly show -- when randomly (it seems), our bodies start experiencing a somewhat intense emotional reaction.
I think this happens because we're typically running around, sometimes working, and if we're parents, taking care of our children, that when difficult experiences and emotions arise, there's no time to pause, reflect, write, process with others, cry.
Many of us, due to lack of time and energy, or due to ignorance, don't or can't make time for emotional self-care. We spend a lot of time suppressing, repressing, avoiding and so the emotions must come out during another moment; most times it's at an inappropriate moment, like at the grocery store, when I just wanted to get plantains.
Plantains are heaven, OK! My favorite lately is to do a sauce of ghee + thyme + cardamom + black pepper, and put that all over boiled green plantains and broccolini. My goodness. The best! And, so simple! Ooh, and if you like spice -- cayenne pepper too!
Anywho. Back on task! I actually think that Here Comes the Sun is a perfect metaphor. Because when sadness arises, or annoyance or anger, or tears stream down our faces as we're watching A Quiet Place (for example), it's the perfect time to pause, breathe, and add some healing sunshine.
Here comes the self-support, the self-friendship, the self-parenting, the self-hugs, the asking others for help. Here comes the difficult experience, and also, here comes the healing balm.
What is your healing balm? Do you know what you need when difficult emotions show up? For me, my go to forever and always it seems is self-compassion/self-kindness first, and then coming up with a plan.
That looks like hey Sarah, I see you. I'm here. I've got you. We can get through this, and the plan could be -- can I go to another grocery store? Can I buy other fruits and vegetables? Can I ask someone to go check out other stores in the area to see if they can find what I need?
When there's more time and quiet, I might reflect on what's underneath these emotions. I think I felt some sadness because I couldn't find plantains, but maybe it's deeper. Maybe not finding plantains is a reminder that I don't feel that I have a lot of control around this time, and being able to make plantains for myself was a way for me to feel that at least I have some control over something in that moment.
And again, whatever the deeper reason -- what kind of self and other-support do I need? How can I get those needs met? And, what's a continued emotional coping plan that I can practice daily? What kind of caring thoughts do I need to have? What kind of behaviors do I need to engage in (e.g., listening to the birds, connecting to nature, going on walks, listening to calm, relaxing music, talking to loved ones more consistently, saying no to what doesn't serve so that we can say yes to what does serve, listening to others who have been through traumas and have continued to survive and thrive)?
I hope this helps. May you always have access to soothing music. May your mind and your community shower you with kind, loving, understanding words always. May you feel held.