Embracing the mess of emotions

Embrace EmotionsI cry, often. I know ‘they’ say don’t cry at work, but I’ve been known to. I can remember as a little girl I would cry every time I had to leave my Dad’s house. We knew it was coming. It was predictable. It’s predictable to me now, I know if I’m in an emotional situation, where I feel deeply about something or someone, tears are likely. But don’t be surprised if they come when I’m angry.

I’m not a huge fan of the tears, I’ll be honest. I can pull together my composure quickly these days. Tears are not a tactic, they are the swelling up of a deep emotion inside me. I feel like I should apologize, but I’m not going to.

So often, displays of emotion are pushed aside, either by the person having them or those we’re around. And I get it, displays of emotion make other people uncomfortable. I’ve learned that if a person becomes emotional around me, that the worst thing I can do is minimize whatever it is they might be feeling. Telling someone “don’t cry,” or “there’s no reason to cry about it,” is simply unhelpful. Emotions are a way of reaching out, not a time to shut someone down. Instead, coming alongside someone is more impactful. Tell me more… When you stay in the moment instead of trying to rush past it, there are nuggets.

When emotions happen within me, instead of pushing them aside, I’m getting curious. When the tears fall for me, I ask myself “what’s coming up?” I’ll admit that name the emotion game is not one I’d excel at, but I’m practicing. Frustrated is a catch all for angry, upset, frazzled…hurt. Happy might mean feeling appreciated, grateful, hopeful. Being able to name emotions allows you identify what you’re feeling and understand it. You can roll it around and be interested in why it’s coming up for you.

That’s not always easy. It’s human nature to rush past emotions. They make us uncomfortable. We feel vulnerable and exposed as we sit with emotion. But when we shove them down, like a sleeping bag into one of those stuff sacks that never seem quite big enough, they tend to spill back out. Mine do, all the time.

I hypothesize that years of putting my emotions aside have led to the landslide I frequently experience now. It’s the “be a soldier,” “buck up and move on,” idea that I had. Either I was told or believed it was what I was supposed to do. What I notice is that the more I step into my authentic self, the more I experience emotion. Honestly sometimes it feels like I’m split wide open and raw with emotion. Years of bottling them up spilling out.

And that’s ok. Having emotion, understand my emotions, it doesn’t make me weak. It makes me stronger. Because when we’re authentic, being vulnerable and letting our true self show up with others, there is strength. It’s hard to feel strong when a part of us is being shut down.

Do I want to cry often? Not especially. But understanding it, getting curious about it and making peace with the emotion creates strength. It’s not the end of me, an indictment. It’s not about “the crying.” I’m paying attention to what it’s trying to tell me and nurturing that need, that emotion. It can be messy, but so am I, and I embrace it.

If you were to examine the feelings that arise in you, the emotions, what would they tell you? Where they are coming from? What would it look like to spend time with them, to treat them like a friend trying to tell you something instead of pushing them away? It’s messy work, yes, but brings inner peace. Your authentic self is not something you’re changing into, it’s already there, inside of you. You can use your emotion as a lamp showing you pieces of your authentic self. What you do with those pieces is your journey, the brave journey. I’m on it with you.


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