A friend recently told me when sharing her feelings in a group setting; she is usually the one to cry or laugh, sometimes both, while most of the other group-members act very calm and matter of fact.
Her emotions are always crowding in. She was worried that she feels too much and didn’t think that was normal.
It left her feeling like something is wrong with her.
In fact, she experiences her life in highs and lows… with intermittent calm periods.
She is not alone!
The majority, but not all people experience this up and down. However, we are well trained to hide it from others. Our cultural norm, our American norm, is to always feel “fine” and have it all together, meaning we pretend we don’t feel lonely, rejected, sad, jealous, abandoned or God forbid needy. Isn’t perfection what we portray on Social Media. We look good, we feel great, and our families are amazing.
We have been conditioned since childhood to be removed from our feelings. We’ve learned that our real feelings need to be tucked away. Many people never realize that they aren’t connected to their emotions.
Turning away from ourselves is what we’ve been programmed to do all our lives.
Mamma mia, Italians let it all hang out. They scream and yell, talk with their hands, pound the table…..as quick as it starts it’s over. Fuhgeddaboudit.
It’s clearly cultural!!
Expressing our feelings is healing.
It’s human nature to have conflicting, confused, ambiguous, strong and sometimes crazy feelings. Admittedly, some more than others.
Being vulnerable and at peace with your truth is your path to FREEDOM.
My life has felt like an emotional roller coaster. One minute I’ll experience profound gratitude and joy for the phone-call from my friend. In the next minute my partner will say something that brings me back to one of our most painful moments in our relationship and I’ll plummet.
I may be driving down the road reflecting on something with half a mind, another driver cuts me off and I end up at a red light. Somehow that triggers a memory deep within and suddenly I am in a black mood.
Conversely, if I feel despair over parts of my future and I go out to a museum or some creative event, I suddenly can’t remember why I felt hopeless when the world is so wonderful.
I’ve watched this up and down most of my life and have come to the conclusion that I’d rather FEEL everything than be disconnected.
What a beautiful rainbow of feelings that show us we are alive.
I feel others’ feelings; I feel animals’ feelings and sometimes it all feels like too much. Then I know I have to take some time out for myself.
I’ve come to accept most of my feelings, but I can tell you that this took a while.
Having grown up with a father who ridicules feelings and a mother who died from feeling too much (never finding support), I saw my feelings as the enemy.
I started out disconnected, being opinionated and in control to cover up my feelings of inadequacy, often behaving harshly like my father. Moving to America and having children gradually changed this for me, softening me and allowing the ups and downs to show. But, guess what, as my children grew they began to criticize my ability to express my feelings and called me “dramatic”.
What cosmic irony!
It felt awful, my own children rejecting the very parts of me that took so long to accept. What was I supposed to do with that? I could dismiss their criticism, but I want a good relationship with my kids.
Back to ….
More observations of life and others.
More confusion with my boundaries.
If you’re looking for a happy ending here I have to disappoint you. It’s an ongoing process. I have to trust that I raised my kids with the permission to feel …and maybe they are just momentarily caught in the web of cultural norm and the typical phase of reflection in which the parent represents what they struggle with themselves.
I am finding acceptance.
In my observations, I discovered that the strongest people accept and show their emotions, their feelings, because it takes courage to make yourself vulnerable.
Some books that have helped me on this journey:
Hinds Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard
Feelings Buried Alive Never Die by Karol K. Truman
Please share if this was helpful or I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.