If you choose to live a full + vibrant life, you are going to feel a full and vibrant array of emotions. By diving in and risking for life and love, you’re going to have highs and lows. The beauty is, once you learn how to process your emotions, the highs will be higher and the lows not so low. But there will always be lows and we when we accept this, we make life much easier.
Two examples of this: One personal and the other one many U.S. parents are experiencing this month. First mine. Last Thursday I boarded a plane at the end of a magnificent vacation. It was time to head home and leave my partner behind in his land. Did this feel good? Uh no, it did not. I felt as if my body was being torn in half in a really violent, unnatural way. I felt intense sorrow, grief, and anger. Are these easy feelings to feel? No, they are not. The joy and excitement I had felt when the plane landed in Sydney were much easier to feel. However, that doesn’t mean that I should do something to escape feeling them nor does it mean something has gone wrong. Rather, in acknowledging that they were there, I open myself up to a vibrant and rich life experience. See, if I choose to just feel the easy, I’m not able to feel the good as deeply as when you open to feeling it all: easy and difficult.
Second example: Your child is going off to college (or kindergarten, preschool, getting married). They are starting a new chapter that doesn’t revolve around you. Guess what? You’re going to feel some strong emotions. You might feel sad, excited, lonely, proud, worried, apprehensive… Might some of these be difficult to feel? Yes. Has something gone wrong? No. Are all of these easy feelings to feel? No. However, feel them we must. Allow yourself to feel the sorrow now and get ready to feel the joy at parent’s weekend.
Imagine yourself surfing and the waves are your emotions. They come and go. Some are stronger than others but every single one has an end point (the shore). The goal is to surf the wave all the way to the shore. Don’t hop off mid-ride because your legs are aching. Ride it all the way in.
We get into trouble when we resist feeling the strong emotions or riding the big waves. Why do we resist? Fear. Deep down, we think we won’t be able to handle the strong feeling. We are afraid that if we allow ourselves to feel the sadness or loneliness that we’ll go down a deep dark hole and not be able to climb out. The opposite is true. Depression is caused by suppression. Suppression of your emotions. If you open yourself up to feeling your feelings, the feeling will pass. You will process it. You might cry. You might rage. You might feel like you’re in a dark hole for pieces of your days as you ride the wave, but it will pass. It is only when we suppress our emotions that we run into trouble.
How do we resist? We all have our personal favorites. Popular ones are eating, drinking, netflix-ing, exercising, or working. We spend an awful lot of time + mental energy avoiding our feelings. Back to the water: think of a beach ball as your emotions. Try holding that beach ball under the water. Think of the energy you use as you push against the ball. When you allow the ball to surface, there’s a sense of release and calm. The same is true when you allow yourself to be sad or angry or disappointed.
How do we process our emotions? There are many tools (journaling, meditating, working with a coach, etc). One thing that helps me is to remind myself that: “Nothing has gone wrong here”. Take the example of me on the airplane. My sadness, fear, sorrow, and heartache. Was any of that wrong? I was on a plane, leaving behind the man I love. No, nothing has gone wrong. Everything I felt was justified and made sense. Now, if I had felt relieved, elated, and joyous, maybe it would be time to investigate my relationship, right?
We create drama in our lives when we resist feeling our feelings.
Ride your wave all the way to the shore.
Nothing has gone wrong.
Choose to experience all of your life. Now.
Yes you can handle it.