How Feeling What You Feel Can Guide You to Positive Action.

It took me many years to complete my Ph.D. Acquaintances, friends and family would often ask me “When will you be finished?” I got tired of this question because I did not have the answer. I told people to stop asking me. I told them that when I finish I’d let them know.

Well, the day finally came. In the morning I successfully defended my research! The professors shook my hand and called me Dr. Mackay. How wonderfully strange it sounded.

Good friends took me out for a congratulatory lunch. I came home and started making the phone calls to let friends and family know. Most people were at work so I left lots of messages. Then I was done. As I sat there, calm for the first time this day, I became aware that I felt sad. I was puzzled. Why on earth was I sad when I just completed something I was really happy about? I sat with my sadness and let myself feel it.

Gradually I became aware of what I was sad about. Who do you want to tell when you’ve done something fantastic? Mom and Dad, right? Well both my parents were deceased, so I could not tell them. That made me sadder. I let myself feel the sadness that I could never share this with them.

I don’t know where it came from, but I got the idea of writing to people who knew my parents and knew me – people who would know how my parents would have felt about what I had achieved. So I got out writing paper and wrote to my parents’ best friends, people who had known me all of my life. I also wrote to the parents of a long-term friend of mine who also knew my parents. I told them what had just happened and that I was writing them because I could not let my parents know. When I had finished I felt good – like I had completed something.

Shortly after that the phone started ringing with many congratulations and I felt happy again.

About a week later I received flowers from both parties with congratulations. They said they were delighted that I’d written to them and let them know. They told me how proud my parents would have been. It was wonderful! It was sort of like I’d told my parents.

If I had not let myself feel my sadness I would have never gotten to the action that gave me a sense of closure and brought me such good feelings.

Let yourself feel what you feel. It can guide you to positive action.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea Mackay

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