Do you sometimes feel that you shouldn’t feel a certain way? “I shouldn’t be mad,” “I should be more patient,” “I should be enjoying this” and so on. When we treat emotions as “shoulds” or “shouldn’ts,” then we run the risk of losing our authenticity and even, to some degree, what makes us human.
First of all, I want to point out that many of us talk to ourselves (not in a crazy way) in a manner that is completely unacceptable. For example, if I said to you, “you shouldn’t feel that way,” how are you going to feel? Or if I said, “you’re such a fraud, what are you doing here?” You’re going to think I’m not much of a friend. I might sound more like your enemy in fact, right? My point is that many of us talk to ourselves as if we are someone we hate and want to hurt. Unacceptable! NOW you’re talking in a crazy way.
This idea brings us to a second point, and that is that the only person that can make you feel accepted, loved, gratified and happy is you. In several previous blogs about perception (My View on Perception, Emotions Gone Viral, Imposter Syndrome and Not Measuring Up, ) we talked about how our interpretation of the world is subject to our own biases, what we attend to, and how we feel about what we observe. If all you notice is your shortcomings and then you tell yourself what a bad person you are, then you are creating your own reality of being a bad person. If you don’t think you have the right to feel how you feel, then those negative emotions will get hidden away, along with your positive ones. Pretty soon you won’t be able to feel hardly anything at all except a sense of dysphoria and confusion. Thus, if the only person that can make yourself happy is you, then start being the friend, no the lover, to yourself that you deserve. Yes you do deserve it. Everyone does. E-v-e-r-y-o-n-e.
In addition, humans are emotional beings. We just are. Even if we are paid to be objective and analytical all day long, and are good at it, we are still emotional. If you bury your emotions so you don’t recognize them, it simply means that they will influence you without your knowledge, sort of like an invisible puppet master. This will happen and you may not even know it. On the other hand, those who are emotionally intelligent and are aware of their and others’ emotions also tend to be able to use that information to get a more clear view of the world. For example, if I’m seething with resentment at my boss, I may blame those emotions on my boss and then treat him in a hands-off manner. This , of course, is likely to result in my boss distancing himself from me, which I then interpret as resentful and angry behavior, and so on. The origin of those feelings is me. I’m creating the situation and I’m not able to see it clearly since I am not attuned to my feelings (Self-(Un)fulfilling Reality).
I know, it can be scary or confusing to finally confront those buried feelings. Been there. Done that. We suppress our feelings for good reasons; often they are painful. Chronic pain patients, however, know that to fight the pain is to intensify it. Paradoxically, mindful acceptance and “rolling with it” tends to lead to less pain and better outcomes. We can also challenge the beliefs that cause us the pain (Making the Change You Know You Should Make), and even use that pain to create change and growth (Making Good Use of Negative Emotions).
In the end, we all are on our unique journeys to discover who we are and why we are here. Maybe some can discover that without being in touch with their feelings. For me, when I was able to accept and embrace all of my parts, including those I was afraid of or didn’t like, was when I was able to really find my authentic path. How about you?