I come from the ingrained cultural belief in staying busy and productive, believing that my productivity is tied to my value. Previous life experience with exhaustion enabled me to look honestly at this firmly held belief and get over it! The belief caused much pain and destruction to my body, mind and spirit. But old habits really do die hard and I struggled some with that belief at the beginning of this recent bout of forced rest. But once I regained my rehabilitated belief, that my value is not based on what I get done in the day, I was, however, kept busy with thoughts and emotions that hadn’t received my attention while I had been previously occupied with my life’s events.
I noticed at my brother’s funeral how my tribe prides themselves on the forced control of emotions, like it is a badge of honour. Displays of grief, anger, sadness, etc. are met with slight panic—an attitude of ‘put a lid on that as soon as possible.’ I know that I modeled this to my daughters, when they were growing up. Any sort of, what we call ‘negative’ emotions, would set off alarm bells within me and a desperate need to extinguish the fire-like feelings as quickly as possible.
Much of the work that I do with myself and with clients is processing emotions. Emotions are very misunderstood in our culture as well as grossly mishandled. I say ‘process’ emotions because they are wells of information that needs to be excavated, because, usually, on top of an already stifled emotion, is a layer of guilt, shame or scorn. Not only do you have sadness, anger, etc. but you’ve told yourself you shouldn’t feel that way.
People that I work with are often scared that if they let their emotion ‘out,’ it will wreak unpredictable havoc and destruction, like a wild animal uncaged and unleashed. I can assure that a flow of emotions is just that. The emotions come and, when they are allowed, they flow through, then go. They don’t require that we act on them. Shutting them down because of fear that you will be overwhelmed and stay stuck in that emotion causes problems over time. Repressed emotions don’t go anywhere. The result, after mining the emotion for information, is relief and freedom. The heaviness of carrying around stuffed down emotions is released and you can now experience lightness, happiness and joy.
When I attended therapy and when I was being coached, every time I felt like crying was a signal that we’d hit upon something important. I notice now with my clients, the very same thing—when the core of a belief is discovered, people often cry. Protection is disarmed and the truth is revealed.
“People don’t cry when they lose their hope. They cry when they get it back”—Martha Beck.
Not sure if you have stuck emotions? Get still and quiet for a while.