Thursday, June 2, 2011

Let It All Hang Out

I've been having some good conversation lately with my Tasmanian friend Kit (who posts here). We kind of suspected that we were kindred spirits from the start, but discovered much more commonality after I wrote my post, M is for Mourning (here).

Kit and I have had quite a few messages back and forth over that one. But one thing in particular that she said really stood out in my mind. It was, "People seem to want to sanitize the 'unseemly' emotions... How stupid is that?" I hollered at the computer screen, as if she'd be able to hear me all the way over-under there in Tasmania, "That's it!" Yeah, just like Charlie Brown when Linus lays it on the line.

We do sanitize our emotions and in so doing, our emotional responses. It's a behavior that we learned somewhere along the way, and for the most part it's a detriment. It makes us callous and callused - not only do we disregard and/or gloss over what others are feeling, but we stuff our own feelings down until they become a hard impregnable nugget. What a shame.

We have our emotions for a reason, just the same as we experience physical sensations for a reason. Emotions are triggers that tell us what's good and what's not, what's too far, what's just right, what's delightful, what's unbearable. Squelch that and you end up with all the sensibility and sensitivity of a popsicle. We need to allow ourselves to feel. We need to allow others to feel.

Now, I'm not saying that we all need to be running around, flying off the handle and either laughing hysterically or crying a river. I'm saying that we need to be aware of our emotions and emotional reactions. We need to accept that others will react to various stimuli differently than we might. Again, just like physical sensation, we each feel things differently on a mental and emotional level. Some people love being tickled, others find it uncomfortable and nearly excruciating. Some people can whack their shin on a coffee table and keep going like it was nothing, others need to sit down and have a moment of sorrow and pity for the entire limb.

Emotions are much the same. What makes me laugh like a loon might leave you yawning and searching for the nearest pillow. What brings tears to your eyes might annoy me by its very sappiness. What hurts some folks' feelings, others will easily brush off like pesky bread crumbs on a lapel.

We're all different. Surprise.

Stress is a huge factor in the physical ailments that plague mankind today. We're over worked, overly committed, and overwhelmed. I'm convinced that a lot of that stress comes from us holding it all in, waiting for an "appropriate opportunity" (read: time away from the eyes and ears of others) to let it out. There are two problems with that. One is that we rarely have, much less take, that kind of time. The other is that we need to bounce our emotions off of other people. We need to know that what we're feeling is okay, that we're not opening the door to a rubber room. We need to be able to talk about it. And we need to be able to hear about it. We need to allow others to voice their emotions without judgment, without immediately putting a cap on it and shutting it down.

So, can we all just agree to lend ourselves and others a bit of latitude when it comes to experiencing emotion? And for the love of cheese in a can... can we all just agree to let it out every now and then?

3 comments:

  1. Readback - "hard impregnable nugget" Absolutely perfect description

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  2. I will never forget the moment I spoke these words out loud to a new friend, "I feel like a failure." I hadn't even said them to myself! But yet, once out there, I felt like a weight was lifted. And she didn't brush them aside, change the subject or pat my hand. She allowed me to sit in my sorrow and process it. And then she shared her own "I feel like a failure moment." Since then we share all of our not so pretty feelings with each other. I call it, "Stepping into the light of realness," and now that I have found the light, I never want to go back to stuffing away the feelings until I explode or become ill.

    Beautifully written, as always, and spot on!!!

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  3. Thanks, Blue... every now and again I manage to hit one on the head! ;-)

    Hands Free... I can't imagine you being a failure (but I can relate to feeling like one). You just keep up your own beautiful writing!

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