Create a Be Right Back List

Now about those times when you can feel the cry coming on, but circumstances won’t allow for it in the moment. I had a Be Right Back List (BRB). How does this work? I kept a list where I’d jot down just enough for me to remember what triggered the thought or feeling that’d come up. This allowed me to acknowledge it and bookmark it to come back to when it was safe to really feel and explore it.

Adding to my list also freed me up to go on with my day without the inconvenient feeling continuing to nip at my heels, because it knew it’d get its turn. A critical piece was, I already had a time set up to review my BRB list. I made that time sacred and protected. I’d always choose a day when I didn’t have any other commitments because even though I’d deliberately only schedule a few hours at most to delve into the list and feeling the feelings, it was exhausting.  After closing up shop on the feelings, I’d often veg in front of the TV watching episode after episode of Sex and the City until it was time for bed.

For me it was non-negotiable to have a limited time frame, here’s why.  I was afraid of my pain. I worried that if I dipped my toe too deep into its vortex I might get sucked in and never be able to climb my way out. In order to feel safe going near the vortex, my subconscious needed to know I had guardrails in place. The hard and fast timeline to dig deep served as the guardrail.

The cool thing is, it turned out once I faced the fear and dipped in my toe, I discovered I rarely needed as much time as I thought I would for the deep work and Embracing the Ugly Cry. When allowed to run the gauntlet, my feelings would surface, have their moment and fade. The next would come in and go through the same cycle until my body, mind, and soul would close up shop on its own, understanding I’d done enough for the day. Cue the binge TV watching.

One last note, I know keeping the commitment to myself and my emotions, to have their time was absolutely necessary. It was a date I couldn’t afford to cancel. They trusted me; I showed them time and again they would indeed get their due so they played as nicely as they could. Had I bailed on them, they wouldn’t have been so polite. They would’ve kept pestering me at inopportune moments until they got their moment in the light.

Tomorrow I’ll share my favorite spot for indulging in that Ugly Cry.

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This is the sixth installment in a series of articles based on, “Good Grief – Embracing Life and Giving Good Support” a talk I gave on May 22, 2019. You can get caught up by starting with the introductory article here.

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