• Jenn Gillihan

Emotional Mastery (or mockery)


I'll admit it, 2020 has kicked my ass. For all the confidence and excitement I had going in to this new calendar...2020 for us empaths has been tough! Now I'll admit, I've been all over the map with what I believe to be true about Covid (I mean if Fauci keeps wavering, who am I to stand strong in only one opinion) and other than some really smokey days I haven't been affected by the wildfires, and while others struggle with unemployment and economic downturn, I've been blessed with more opportunity than hours in the day. My faltering this year wasn't any of those potentially life threatening problems...it was a stumbling in my own emotional mastery.


See my life as a coach, I love it. What I study most, what I teach most, what I help people choose for themselves most often...emotions. There have been glimpses in my life when I've been so crystal clear in self awareness and "emotional mastery" that it was magical, surreal. A calm confidence that felt wise, peaceful, gentle and generous was a gift that I've worked hard to give myself and to help others find. When that happens, it's given me (and them) great joy.


Then comes 2020. I try to stick to it. I wake up each day, I set my intentions on how I want to feel that day, how I want to move through my day, how I want to show up for others, what I want to accomplish. The habit has served me well over the years and helping others do the same has proved really powerful. But this year...let's just say...grounded was not my go to emotion.


The pandemic hit a few friends and family (all fully recovered now) which was scary but manageable. It hit deeply with the economic downturn for small businesses (most of my tribe). Friends are trying to figure out how to keep their staff...they've worked so hard to put together the perfect team...but people can't hold on forever if there is no work, no pay. They are trying to keep their followers, their clients, but people aren't allowed to get their hair cut, have weddings or enjoy their favorite restaurant as usual. All of these dear friends have found their livelihood turned upside down.


So where do they turn? To the person who at one point or another seemed to have somehow figured out this "emotional mastery" thing. Ha! It was like being a cashier at McDonald's on a slow Tuesday afternoon when 3 school buses of junior high kids show up. Holy crickies!



At first, I loved it. I love what I do and helping people through difficult times and helping them navigate difficult emotions gives me such an amazing amount of fulfillment. BUT...it didn't stop, it didn't slow down, it just kept growing into this monster that for many, personifies 2020.


I found myself starting to recoil. I couldn't keep up. I couldn't show up the way I wanted to. I was running out of "fries" to feed the bus full of kids. I couldn't even seem to manage my own emotions, let alone help others. I felt like a fool, like 2020 had turned my emotional mastery...into mockery.




I (hopefully) graciously had to step back. I had heartfelt conversations with clients, friends and family...sharing with them what it looked like on my side of the fence. My husband (my foundation) was on the road for work, there were tons of people I wanted to help but was too emotionally drained to serve, there were too many things I'd said "yes" to during the easier times that now needed twice the amount of time to help manage their version of the crisis too.


My tribe was awesome, correction, IS awesome.


They offered mutual support. They stood a little longer on their own two feet before calling. We encouraged each other, brainstormed solutions together, made tough decisions together and cried together. For those standing strong in my tribe...we are doing so, together, and we are better for it.


As for emotional mastery...I learned that there is way more to it than controlling your emotions. Sometimes, it's about giving in and acknowledging them...even when they aren't what you want. Sometimes you have to go through it, rather than around it...in order to heal and get to the other side. No amount of dance parties, brownies, zoom brunches or thoughtful cards in the mail were going to make 2020 go away. But by owning what I was truly feeling, by connecting with others and allowing myself to be vulnerable, I was able to step back into that calm confidence that felt wise, peaceful, gentle and generous. Emotional mastery doesn't mean you won't ever go to a negative place of fear, anger, or frustration...it simply means that you don't have to stay there.

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© 2020 by Jenn Gillihan