Our culture is not all that keen on feelings. We prefer thoughts to emotions. Partly because we are afraid to feel. Emotions make us vulnerable, and few people willingly embrace vulnerability.
We resist bad feeling emotions because we are terrified that they will last forever. We resist good feeling emotions because we are scared they won’t last. In reality emotions are neither constant nor permanent. They are like waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes they’re like massive tsunamis, threatening to wreck our lives, leaving only debris and casualties behind, at other times they are barely perceptible. Big or small, good or bad, they all eventually retreat. Instead of letting them be, we try to hang on to the good ones long past their sell-by date, and attempt to minimise the less pleasant ones.
The problem with suppressing emotions is that their very nature makes it futile.
Emotion, E-Motion, Energy in Motion.
Emotions are transient in nature. Little children respect this. They feel their feelings fully “good” or “bad” and then move on. We try to “manage” our emotions, primarily by attempting to avoid the “negative” ones. The problems is that energy cannot be destroyed. It can only be transformed, and in the case of emotions you transform them by FEELING them. When you damn up an emotion, by resisting it, like water it stagnates and turns into something unpleasant.
There has been a lot of incidents of road rage in the news recently. Everybody who has experienced or witnessed road rage knows that the real issue has nothing to do with someone driving like an ass. That’s merely the catalyst that releases all the pent up anger the road rager has been suppressing, and has now turned into a destructive rage fest. This is NOT managing emotions. If the guy had cried when his wife divorced him 2 years ago, he wouldn’t be facing charges of aggravated assault now. Sometimes this unmanaged “release” is directed inwardly, e.g. cutting yourself, feeling depressed or even suicidal. If you are feeling suicidal:
1. Tell someone. It is nothing to be ashamed of.
2. Go see a doctor. There are meds that will help take the edge off. I know many people, especially ones who have been on anti-depressants before who are not keen on them. If this is you then go to someone who can support you using more natural interventions. I swear by BodyTalk.
3. After that you gotta go back and feel those feelings. There is no getting around that one.
The reason we tend to avoid feeling our “bad” feelings is that we have this irrational fear that they will consume us. We are afraid that if we let ourselves feel angry, we might just destroy everything in sight or if we allow yourselves to be sad, the sadness will just consume us and we’ll never find our way out of it, ever. This is not true, it may feel true but it is not. The irony is that if you resist feeling them, eventually they WILL come out in a destructive way.
If you’d like a structured (read safe and controlled) way to feel your “negative” emotions, drop me an email, I’ll send you an exercise that is simple and effective. It will help you ease the pressure, and keep you in control, so we don’t have to end up reading about you in the news because you harmed yourself or another.