Yesterday I spoke to a friend of mine, Nelly, and I could hear that she sounded not like her usual happy self. When I asked how she was doing, she first replied with a cheery "Wonderful", but when I pressed her for more, she burst out crying.
After a few moments of crying, she apologised for her tears, and started explaining how she felt so terrible for crying and feeling the way she does. She reads my blog and tries to just be happy and positive, after all, she carried on, she had so much to be thankful for. Her husband's diabetes can be controlled with medication, her son's asthma is under control and they've found another house to rent, after the house they've currently been renting for the past 21 years has been sold. She felt so guilty for feeling depressed and teary, and no matter how positive she tries to be, her melancholy does not seem to budge, and it makes her feel increasingly guilty which in turn compounds her feelings of depression.
Emotions. We all have them, even those who claim that they are level-headed and practical. Emotions are a trait we have in common with most mammals. Emotions are what drive us and even make life worth living. We cannot deny our emotions and we cannot wish them away. Emotions serve physical as well as psychological purposes in our lives. They include a wide range of feelings. Emotions are specific reactions to specific events. Our behaviour is a visible sign that we are experiencing a certain emotion.
Listening to Nelly, I realised that she is making a mistake most people tend to make when it comes to our emotions. We confuse emotions with strength of character and we categorise emotions as weakness. We try to smother our emotions with positive thinking, encouraging cliches and a cloak of cheerfulness. We think that by denying our emotions they will magically change or disappear.
The very nature of our emotions demands that they are taken notice of. Emotions trigger definite reactions in our bodies. Fear causes a rush of adrenaline and our hearts beat faster, while anger causes our blood pressure to skyrocket and worry affects our concentration and appetite. When we suppress them it is like putting a lid on a boiling pot, sooner or later it will explode.
Happiness does not come as a result of ignoring our emotions, or pretending that they simply don't exist. It also does not come from overloading our thoughts with positive quotes and encouraging anecdotes. Happiness comes from making peace with our emotions. We have to be honest about our feelings, whether they are feelings of sadness, rejection, anger or depression. We have to experience all of our emotions, right down to the very depth of them. If we deny our emotions they will find a way to manifest themselves. Emotions are very closely linked to our physical bodies and therefor, suppressed emotions find their way out through our bodies via symptoms of ill health such as high blood pressure, symptoms of stress, etc. There is no such thing as an unpermitted emotion. We have to face our emotions and acknowledge their existence no matter what they are. It is okay to not always feel on top of the world. You are allowed to grief. It is fine to feel like pulling the blanket over your head on occasion. Giving way to our emotions is okay, and very necessary. Looking to the butterfly, we see this lesson of nature in action. A butterfly is first of all a caterpillar, an earthbound, slow crawling insect. Long before it can even dream of having beautiful gossamer wings it moves laboriously through the undergrowth. Then, still not ready, it has to weave itself into a coccoon, in solitude, transforming.
Finally we have to let go of our feelings, our emotions. You see, it is not the fact that we have emotions, or paying attention to them, that prevent us from being happy and joyful, it is holding onto them for dear life that stands between us and happiness. We have to open our hands to release all the creepy crawlies we are holding onto, those feelings of fear, worry, anger, self-doubt, rejection, wounded pride that eat away at our happiness. Once we let go, our hands are open to receive comfort, hope and love. The butterfly can now alight on my outstretched palms. We have to let go in order to receive peace.
So next time you feel like crying, shouting or pouting, know that it is okay, curl up in your coccoon for a while, but just don't stay there, the winds are calling to you to spread your wings and fly.......
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