Monday’s Meditation: On Feeling Your Feelings (Or Should You?)
There are two prevailing groups of people as pertains to the experiencing of emotions: those who feel on such a deep, raw level that they are constantly consumed by their feelings, and those who, unable to decipher or cope with various feelings, numb themselves to them.
The latter is–no matter how tactically applied–not beneficial to long-term wellbeing. Muting feelings that would otherwise get in the way, distract you from getting done what you have to, or that would make otherwise easy routines complicated can be tempting for some.
I used to hit the mute button on The Feels because to do so felt like a necessary means of survival back then. But when you tip too far in this direction, you lose your vulnerability-a key element of humanity. You disconnect yourself from what is real–I know this now.
Yet, tending more towards stoicism as I do, I’ve always approached the whole difficult feelings game tepidly; resentingly. “Don’t make me feel the bad things!” I’ve wanted to scream. “Who says this is a better way to live?”
There seems to be to be a consensus perpetuated by many that it’s most “correct” or pure or enlightened to be deeply in touch with one’s emotions. That one should live in order to express feelings, and one should constantly be on the look out for their appearance.
Maybe it’s that I still haven’t fully crossed over to the side of the vulnerable (maybe I never fully will), but from where I’m standing, this handling of emotions is a damaging game, as well. I mean, feeling joy and happiness fully is fantastic; feeling depression, anger, or guilt to the same extent is crippling.
When your version of feeling emotions is akin to a sinking into them, being so overcome by them that you’re rendered paralyzed, and recovering from them is a difficult and arduous process, well, you might be a little too in touch with your emotions, if you ask me.
There is a balance point which I have reached, a slightly-more-than-tolerable and slightly-less-than-embracing relationship with challenging feelings I’ve adopted and it goes like this:
Feel your feelings, accept that they are there, let them register and settle in as they do.
This is the saddest thing ever in the whole world. I feel like my arms are being ripped off of my own body.
I am so angry right now I feel like I could rip his arms off of his own body.
Then, take a good, long breath. Like one you’d make for the doctor when she presses her stethoscope to your chest and you’re suddenly overcome with the desire to show off your lung capacity. Close your eyes if you can, that helps. Just have yourself a little zen moment and don’t you dare worry about who or what is happening around you.
Underneath your negative feelings–about three breaths beneath– is the spirit-world of goodness and joy and love. It’s a level where ATM machines and arguments and break ups and garbage bags and pee pads and moving trucks and even grave stones don’t exist because all those things are temporary. And when we check in with that place–every time we do– the bad feelings subside.
We contextualize. We understand their importance as compared to what’s everlasting and really the truest things of all: love, family, connectedness.
Maybe by next Monday I’ll be raving about being awash in ones’ feelings, but today I say: Be aware of your emotions and do not let your emotions be your master. Let your feelings guide but not lead you.
Understand the power that feelings possess is ascribed by us.
We put meaning into sadness, anger, loss; and we put it in happiness, too.
We are the ones wading further and further into the quicksand. And the way out is always to grip on to whatever positive, empowering, peaceful thoughts you can conjure.
Because when we do that, we return to the knowing that each one of us is doing the best we can. Each one of us is working on learning a unique lesson. And each one of us is seeking happiness, fulfillment, and love.
p.s. on a serious note: if you feel you are unable to master your emotions, that rather you are at their whim, please, please seek the help of a psychologist or psychiatrist. This isn’t 1950; there ain’t no shame.
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