Well that was an unexpected end to the year, wasn’t it? For those of us in Sydney – we went from covid FREE to covid FEAR overnight. We were looking forward to our Christmas gatherings, our Summer holidays, our well-deserved rest and play after all too much work and yet again we were caught off guard with unexpected lockdowns, restrictions, and El Niño to top it all off.

And at first we felt guilty and ashamed for dwelling in the disappointment of thwarted plans and experiences, reminding ourselves of how much worse it’s been for our fellow counterparts around the world (let alone country). But as much as we can try to walk in someone else’s shoes, it’s important to acknowledge that we’re stuck with the particular shape and size foot we’ve got – and at the end of the day, our shoes are the only ones we’re left with so we need to find comfort in walking in them – whatever they look like, however worn out they are, however sore our feet might be at the time.

The truth is, it’s ok to be disappointed. It’s ok to feel flat. It’s ok to be upset. The problem is that our society is so geared towards the ‘high’. We’ve been conditioned to believe that when we’re feeling down, we need to quickly find something to bring us back up again. But this belief comes with two dangerous assumptions. Assumption #1: It’s bad to feel down. Assumption #2: Something external will have a long-standing internal effect.

You see, we’ve been led to perceive unpleasant feelings as bad. As something to be rejected or avoided at all costs. We even have a label for them = ‘negative feelings’. But what if we just called them feelings?  What if we viewed them as an equally important part of the spectrum of human experience. What if we took them as an opportunity to withdraw, to go inwards, to feel. Maybe, by withdrawing inwards and feeling the feelings, we’d find they harboured a message to unveil, a lesson to be learned, a gift to be opened. A gift of more meaning, more connection, more fulfillment – the very thing we were after all along. A gift that no external achievement or possession can ever sustain.

So no matter what shoes 2021 throws at you, we wish you the presence of mind to pause and walk inwards, the courage to feel the feelings, and the awareness to realise all the gifts along your trail.