You don't need fixing
What are the qualities we imagine when we think of someone who is emotionally sorted?
Doesn’t get angry
Doesn’t react to things
This sounds more like a robot than a human being!
But its funny this is often what is thought of when people are asked what they view as good mental health.
I hear many people labelling their emotions as bad and wrong and that having them makes them mentally unwell.
We often think if we could be unemotional we would be much happier.
In actual fact emotional intelligence and health is about experiencing and expressing a range of emotions. If we allow them when they come they then dissipate and we can carry on with our day. We can have a little rant when something annoys us, shed a tear when something is sad and feel fear when something frightens us and then let it go.
If we don’t allow ourselves to experience our emotions when they arise they then get stored in our system, so when someone cuts us up on the motorway we then explode with the full force of all the things that have been building up for the last few weeks. This can then feel out of control and out of proportion and we feel shame about our emotions and vow never to allow them out again, until the next time we get to bursting point and something triggers us.
This act of holding our emotions in until the point of bursting is an exhausting a destructive cycle.
If you look at small children they are amazing at expressing their emotions, they throw a tantrum and then carry on as if nothing happened. Now of course it’s not appropriate for adults to throw tantrums whenever they feel the need, but that doesn’t mean we can’t experience our emotions and let them out in ways that don’t hurt others.
As I said in a previous blog about numbing out, all of our emotions are completely normal and have useful purposes.
The problem is as we grow up we learn and adopt beliefs around emotions such as anger is bad and it hurts people, fear is weak and makes me vulnerable, sadness is pathetic and makes me unlovable. As we adopt these beliefs from our caregivers and societies we start supressing some or all emotions. For me I wouldn’t allow anger and fear, they were both very uncomfortable and I had to challenge my beliefs around them so I could express them in a healthy way and not hold them in.
So what are your thoughts about emotions?
Try finishing these sentences:
- Anger is ______ it makes me ______
- Sadness is ______ it makes me _______
- Fear is ______ it makes me ______
When we break the beliefs down one of the most common ones I come across is that emotions are weak, however I would challenge that and say that to sit with emotions and experience them and the vulnerability they can bring is courageous.
The people I see on a daily basis working through their challenges are some of the bravest people I know.
Emotions are not wrong or shameful, they are natural and make us human.
Interestingly when we have views about certain emotions we don’t just stop ourselves from doing them, we also don’t allow others to. We try and talk them out of feeling and acting certain ways, we try and cheer them up when they are down, often not to make them feel better but so we don’t have to sit with any emotion we are uncomfortable with, we then pass our views that these emotions are not acceptable on to them.
If you identified one of the emotions above as being one you do not like doing, challenge this.
Are there situations where this is not true?
Do you know people who do this emotion but are not bad/weak/mentally unwell?
Are you looking at it black and white? What would a grey area or mid ground of this look like?
If you can sense that this isn’t always true can you think about trying the emotion?
Perhaps on your own or with someone you trust?
Or try being there with someone going through it.
Just sit with them and be present.
Acknowledge how they are feeling without trying to change it.
The wider range of emotions we can experience in ourselves and with others the healthier we are, our emotions are not wrong and don’t mean we need fixing, they mean we are human.
I know this is not easy, I’ve been there and it took me a while to be ok with all emotion, I still find myself avoiding it sometimes but I have learnt that I can feel anything and that it will pass.
I hope you find this helpful and if you have any thoughts on this post or what you would like to read in following posts you can comment below, email me at email@example.com or send me a message on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
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