Making Good Use of Our Emotions: Hilary Jacobs Hendel

Episode 03

It’s so hard to feel your feelings—especially when you have all of them all at once, and it’s never a convenient time to process them. For the past year, we’ve all been stewing with anxiety, stress, anger, loneliness, grief, and fear. Ignoring our hard feelings might seem like the easiest way to cope and get relief—but it’s not the only option available to us. Our next guest in our For the Love of Reconnecting Series, psychoanalyst and therapist Hilary Jacobs Hendel, reminds us that when we disconnect from our harder emotions, we disconnect from the life-giving ones too, like joy—and don’t we all need more of that right now?. Hilary’s the author of a fascinating book called It’s Not Always Depression (and psst: she consulted on the psychological development of characters in Mad Men!), and she and Jen talk about the freedom we find when we realize emotions just are, and we don’t have to judge them. In fact, instead of shutting down, Hilary shows us how we can walk ourselves toward self-compassion and healing, which gives us real resilience—not the kind that we *think* we have by stuffing down our feelings.

Episode Transcript

Hey, everybody. Jen Hatmaker here, your host of the For the Love Podcast. Welcome to the show. 

So right now, we are in a series called For the Love of Reconnecting. We could not think of a more important way to start the year out. We’ve just been, in every way, disconnected from each other, from our neighbors and loved ones, from our fellow countrymen, from ourselves. And we thought, What can we do? What tools can we put in the hands of our listeners to begin the really important work of reconnecting?

I don’t know about you, but if you are like me, you are probably feeling a swirl of at least maybe 17 different emotions right now that have been bubbling up inside you since at least March of 2020, right? Anxiety, anger, stress from being stretched too thin, loneliness from missing family and friends, grief for all of our canceled plans, our goals, our losses. Maybe even fear, thinking about a future that we can no longer predict. We just have months, and months, and months of everything being too much. And when you’re not sure when the too much is going to end, it can feel like the only way out of it is to check out. Just, “Goodbye, feelings. Goodbye.”

I get that feeling completely, and we can absolutely do that, that is an option. But like our wise friend Brené says, when you shut out the bad, that means you also shut out the good—good things like joy and connection. And right now, we need joy and connection. 

So what do we do? How do we connect, or reconnect, with our emotions in a healthy way that we can actually deal with on a daily basis?

Let me introduce you to my next guest because she’s going to help us with all of this. Hilary Jacobs Hendel is a psychoanalyst and a psychotherapist. She’s published articles in The New York Times, tons of professional journals. Fun fact. Hilary also consulted on the psychological development of the characters on Mad Men. Cool. She’s the author of a brilliant book called It’s Not Always Depression: Working the Change Triangle to Listen to the Body, Discover Core Emotions, and Connect to Your Authentic Self. We’re going to unpack all of that over the course of this conversation because as we are thinking about how to reconnect with ourselves and our emotions in a healthy, doable way, I am telling you, she has a fantastic tool to start the engine for us.

Lots in here, you guys, today. Lots, and lots, and lots packed into this one conversation. As always, we will have it all over at JenHatmaker.com underneath the podcast tab, the show notes and all the links to every single thing we’re going to talk about. 

I am very pleased to share my conversation with the super smart, very brilliant Hilary Jacobs Hendel.



Books & Resources Mentioned in This Episode



Hilary’s book, It’s Not Always Depression 

The Change Triangle

Diana Fosha

Burnout by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski

NYT op-ed: “It’s Not Always Depression. Sometimes It’s Shame”



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