Happy Friday to all the lovely humans!
One morning this week, I woke up thinking about a dear friend. She was in my thoughts so strongly that I decided to reach out and invite her to lunch. She replied to my message with so much light and love, saying she was thinking about me that morning as well, and how much she wanted to have lunch with me. We were connected, and so, needless to say, lunch was wonderful!
The topic I want to share with you this week is one that my wonderful friend brought up during our post-lunch forest walk and reflective conversation.
I want to include a shout out to this friend (you know who you are!) for this beautiful insight and courage to dive deeply to explore oneself.
The topic she shared with me was how many times in our childhood we are each told not to feel the way we do.
When I was a kid, I had a lot of anxiety. I would spiral in my mind and not know how to express what I was feeling because it was so intense, and so beyond what my small self could comprehend. I was overwhelmed. To be completely honest with myself, and with you, I still feel overwhelmed at times. But I did not know then what I know now. And I was unable to hold myself in the overwhelm and understand that things were moving through me. I did not know that I could watch them as they come and go.
When I would cry to my parents “I’m feeling so AARRRHHHHHHHHHH!! I’m angry and I don’t even know why.” They would respond with the very common answer: “why are you angry? Don’t be angry, you have nothing to be angry about.”
At that moment, my little tiny self got confused. “Don’t feel angry?” I thought. “But I AM feeling angry! What’s wrong with me if I’m feeling something I should not be feeling?”
As you know by now, I always look at the other perspective. I do this in order to understand those who think differently than me. By understanding them, I can let go of the judgement that separates us. I am less likely to be angry with someone if I understand them. I say this now because I want to understand the parents whose crying child doesn’t even know why they’re crying. “If you don’t know why you’re even crying, then stop!” Right? Makes sense. But I want to investigate that crying child’s reasoning a little further. Are they crying because they didn’t get the ice cream they wanted? Are they crying because they’re feeling ill? Or are they crying because they are feeling something they can’t explain? Are they feeling a strong emotion flowing through them? An emotion that needs to pass through and find its own way out? If so, I want to support them through it. The only way to know is to listen to the child. To understand them, and hold space for them during their (I assure you) unpleasant moment of overwhelming emotion.
Let’s have some fun for a moment.
Imagine a shiny, silver-blue thread slowly moving, swirling, curving, swaying onward, forward. Sort of like those one-line art pieces. This thread represents your emotions. It goes where it needs to go. It feels what it needs to feel. When we feel happy, imagine this thread jumping and twirling elegantly all around you. When we feel angry or anxious, imagine this thread sharply turning, like a child drawing aggressively with a crayon back and forth. Usually the drawing starts on a piece of paper, and then quickly changes the canvas to the nearest whitest wall.
Now imagine the thread in the middle of a moment of sadness. It is about to turn and twirl when it’s stopped and is told “No!. Don’t feel this. Feel happy instead.”
The thread stops and turns 180∘ to the other direction. Now there is a dead end on the thread. Do you see it? What could have been a smooth, ongoing thread through the sadness is now an abrupt end.
How does your thread of emotion look?
How many dead ends do you have on your thread?
What happens to these dead ends?
To me, the more dead ends there are on the thread, the harder it is for the thread to continue to flow freely, because at any moment it might have to turn around and create a new dead end. It hesitates, it stands on guard, and the dance that was once this thread’s Joie de Vivre, is now a stiff and slow walk with guards and shields at every turn.
Emotions are a dance. They are there to guide us through our lives. The more emotion we allow ourselves to feel, the more free our dance becomes. The more familiar we are with the moves of this emotion dance. And throughout our lives, the more free our dance, the more free we can live.
How can we heal those dead ends? What will it take to go back and undo the dead ends? Is it even possible? Once again, I’ll be honest with myself and with you, I don’t know!
What I do know is that we can be more mindful of our dead ends now! How many times in a day do we tell ourselves to stop feeling angry. That it won’t help us, that it doesn’t do us any good. And actually, you’re not wrong. Feeling angry and staying in the anger doesn’t serve us. But to feel the anger initially is not wrong. It is what it is. And when we welcome the anger and what it represents, we are one step closer to knowing ourselves and our triggers. What is causing this anger? Is it situational? Did someone cut you off on the highway? Or is it something deeper than that? If so, I invite you. I welcome you. I challenge you to look within. To find your own answers to these questions.
And may I remind you, you are not alone on this quest. Your teachers are here to guide you, to support you, and to hold space for you, and for your inner child, as you look at those dead ends and help them go where they always wanted to: through the storm.
As always, with love and kindness,
Photo Credit: https://sleepingshouldbeeasy.com/stop-crying/