Life in Retirement: Letting go of negative emotions

I have to admit that anger was a big reason that I decided to retire when I did. Reaching the right age also had something to do with it, of course, but I felt that people’s anger seemed unstoppable after the pandemic. Other people’s anger, as well as my own.

It was visible to me inside and outside of work, and I began to judge people. I began to label them with those little feelings faces you use to help young children identify their emotions. The actual faces show happy feelings and sad ones, mad, tired, scared, hurt. Gosh, there seem to be a lot more negative feelings than positive ones – and I was certainly seeing the world that way for a while. I became swift with my judgment of the people I saw and most often they were total strangers who I just glimpsed briefly while passing them on the street. ‘That one’s mad,’ I’d think, or ‘There’s a bully’ or ‘That one’s probably a racist or a nose picker’.

I didn’t even know those people and I was drawing only negative conclusions – angry conclusions. Only seeing negative things. I was usually driving when these things happened, which I feel is somewhat of an explanation for my anger! But still, my growing disdain told me I was tired. That it was time to go. I’m so very glad I listened to my heart.

Now I look for people exhibiting joyful feelings and I can spot them easily! Granted, when it’s mid-morning on a weekday and you’re not bound to an office, it’s not hard to find joy. Guy casually riding a bike with no hands? Happy! Mom waiting for her toddler while he examines something on the sidewalk? Love! Guy on a motorcycle whipping a uie on a very busy intersection? He may be frustrated with his wrong turn, but he’s on a bike in the summer sun and wearing a Hawaiian shirt. Happy.

I’ve even come to realize there are lots of positive faces on the children’s feelings chart: calm, silly, proud, surprised, excited, brave, creative. All the things I feel about retirement! Humans are allowed to have negative feelings, of course, and should always be true to how they feel. But if your little feelings faces have been negative for a while, it may be time to determine how to turn that frown upside down.

Sandy Bexon is stepping into retirement after over 35 years as a communications professional, reporter and writer. She lives in Red Deer.

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