From the archives March 2, 2005
Too often today I read messages, books, and lessons that suggest “do not express your emotions.” Rather, it is expected that I “rise above them” and stay centred. There is some truth to those suggestions but it also ignores some steps.
Over the past two years I have dealt with the emotional turbulence that goes with marital breakdown, starting a business, financial pressure, challenging old belief structures, and discovering my truth for spirituality. Many times I was told, “let it go” and I would ask, “how do you do that?” I rarely received a reply, let alone an adequate one. Most often, I got a dumb look in return. You know the one, kind of a vacant stare.
Let it go is an expression for process. Let it go does not mean ‘do not feel bothered.’ Let it go means to engage, feel, and express your feelings. The danger of not letting go will store those feelings in the body. You’ve heard the warning; don’t bottle up your feelings. Bottled up feelings, stored energy in the body will cause greater and greater turmoil and intensity with each emotional encounter. Give it voice instead and you have let it go.
A baby can be happy in one instant, content, then bubbly and silly, to the loudest screeching at the highest decibels, suddenly laughing delightedly, and finally asleep contentedly. The baby switches gears easily moving from one emotional state to another. The baby gives full expression to the moment. You and I have been taught to not fully embrace or express our emotions. The instructions have been incomplete, contradictory, and self-serving.
- Anger is wrong, sadness is okay.
- Bottling it up is bad so let it go.
- You want a reason to cry? I’ll give you a reason to cry.
- Children are to be seen and not heard.
- You should be grateful for the pain.
Sometimes, these comments and the contradictions make you just want to run and hide from this insane world. You and I grow older, suppressing and controlling our feelings, biting our tongue, and learning to not burden others with emotions. One day, you suffer burnout, a breakdown, anxiety attacks, or a depression. One man I knew was driving home and went completely blank. He forgot who he was, where he lived, how to drive. This pattern of controlled destruction has to stop.
The next challenge is learning to let go as an adult. This requires an ability to communicate effectively and to be in touch with emotions. Too often things build up until a huge tirade and explosion takes out those closest to you and half the neighbourhood block. It becomes an attack instead of an expression of meaning. The attack adds more guilt and sorrow. Seeking forgiveness the sorrow and despair heighten as you are ignored for your outburst. Screaming babies are cooed, hugged, and comforted.
Emotions are important to the human experience. If they weren’t we wouldn’t have them. Don’t deny them. Don’t suppress them. Let them take voice as an expression of who you are, who you are here to be, and what you value. Don’t use them as a weapon to demean, belittle, or be vicious with another person. Emotions are all about you so own it and give them voice. I see a need for this to be learned and integrated back into our social fabric for a healthier society. Be the creative being that you and I were born to be.
Yesterday, I felt my emotions and I gave them voice. In doing so, I also gave voice to the values that I stand for and who I am here to be. I will live my life out loud, I will voice my passions, I will live my vision/dream, and I will be who I AM.