“Hello, how are you today?” is a very common phrase we hear every day. What is the usual answer? “I’m good!” This is the appropriate answer, isn’t it? This is what we are supposed to answer, right?
What if we are not in a good space? Do we say “I’m feel like s**t”? How will people react? Will they think we are crazy? Do we bother them? Do they even care?
If you ask me ‘how are you today?’, my answer will be “I don’t feel good” or “I’m not doing well today”. I feel sad, heartbroken, angry, confused….. As I write this, it’s October 5th, 2020.
Last Friday, me and my brother, we said our last goodbye to my dad, who passed away on September 27th.
It took only 4 weeks from his diagnosis. Exactly 4 weeks from when he was rushed to the hospital….
Same diagnosis as my mommy, lung cancer. And yet again we heard “We are so sorry, it’s too late for any treatment.” How do you react to that?
I’m not ashamed to cry
It all happened around the same time as we experienced it with my mom, merely 3 years ago.
I’m not ashamed to feel this way. I cry when I feel the pain and hurt.
I laugh when I think about all the corny jokes my dad told a bajillion times.
I express my anger about this injustice by going harder at the punching bag while training Muay Thai.
I even scream and grunt my frustration out.
Do I get ‘weird’ looks? Of course! Do I care? No!
Allow yourself the experience of your own feeling
Allowing ourselves to experience our feelings is the key to heal ourselves, to let go…
When we are experiencing our true feelings, we are showing ourselves (and others) that it is ok to feel this way. We accept yourselves with all of our feelings. There are no good or bad feelings – they are just feelings.
As my dear friend and mentor Ben pointed out to me, saying or even thinking “I’m not good” implies that I’m a bad person or nothing is good about me. This is another example of the power of words we are using when talking to ourselves or others.
When you connect to your true feeling, you can express it.
“I feel sad” says something about my feelings and not about me as a person. It gives others space to ignore or go into my feelings.
Let’s dig a bit deeper into emotions.
How emotions affect your day or life
Emotion comes from the French word émotion, based on Latin emovere, from e- (variant of ex- ) ‘out’ + movere ‘move’. This means it’s something that has to go out.
Most of us learned to keep our emotions in. It’s kind of a cultural habit learned by our ancestors and society. Especially in the West. Never showing your emotions is somehow ‘polite’ and socially acceptable. I understand that it would be weird if you burst out crying while in a work meeting.
What happens when we feel our feelings and emotions bottled up inside our bodies?
We’ve all been there. And by doing so, we resent ourselves by not expressing them. That resentment leads to more sadness and depression that we keep bottled in. And in circles we go. Does that sound familiar?
Prevent yourself from exploding
The moment we let our emotions go, we feel relieved and feel cured. And that is the natural function and the reason why we have emotions. We NEED to let them out. And as the movie Inside Out shows us, we need all of our emotions, not only the ‘right and acceptable” ones.
Ben used the example of a tire with too much air in it. What happens when you keep pumping air into a tire? It will explode. What can you do to ‘save’ your tire? You use the valve to let the air out. And off you go, driving to your destination happily singing to car tunes.
I really like this example. If we are overfilled with feelings and emotions, that stay locked in and suppressed – what will happen? We explode. Not literally, but emotionally. And sometimes physically as well. That’s what burn-out is.
You can’t take it anymore! You explode and all the emotions come in at once, keeping you empty, but not in a good way. You are left feeling numb to everything, you feel nauseated, anxious, sick.
What can you do to ‘let it all out’? For some, an intense workout is the way to release their emotions. Crying is another great example of letting go. Shouting or screaming into a pillow might be your thing. What do you do to let go?
Accumulated emotions can damage your body and mind
Bottled up feelings can cause so much harm to your body and mind. Digestive problems, lethargy, skin rash, hair loss, anger attacks, fear attacks, depression, and even a stroke or certain types of cancer – can be caused by an overload of negative emotions.
As much as I love my parents, they rarely expressed any emotions, except anger and frustration. My dad never complained about his health, he was closed off. Even the last time I spoke to him over the phone, I asked him how he was doing and he said” “not too bad”.
The day after our conversation he passed away. Looking back, my dad kept running away from expressing his true feelings by working from dawn till dusk.
I watched my mom battle one disease after another, sickness after sickness. I watched her getting annoyed or angry at the smallest things.
Please don’t get me wrong, I love my parents and them passing away left holes in my soul that nothing can fix.
But I also realized that I don’t want to end up trapped in their emotionless life.
I decided to express my emotions instead of keeping them in.
So when somebody asks me ‘How are you doing”, I tell them the truth. I tell them how I feel. Some are flabbergasted by my response, some are very understanding.
I don’t want to fool myself or others. I accept my negative emotions, I accept me as I am.
Whether we realize it or not, we have all at some point put a great deal of energy into avoiding our feelings, our emotions, even physical feelings.
We have denied our feelings for a variety of reasons – we were afraid of them, ashamed of them, or we thought that our feelings are bad or ‘not normal’.
Some might call it “self-control” they learned to adapt as kids. Some turned to concealing their emotions in order to be more desirable in the society. Some shut down because the feelings were just too painful.
Sometimes we use an emotion to express our real feeling. Most common in my experience is to use ‘hurt’ when we don’t want to deal with our ’anger’.
Why do we hide our feelings from ourselves and others by acting like everything is peachy? Or by acting superior, making jokes – or by tightening our bodies and muscles in order to keep the feelings inside our physical bodies – rather than experiencing them emotionally? It is never too late to express them, even if they happened a long time ago.
When we heal, we let go of our old wounds and beliefs that kept us in the dark. We let go of the learned belief that we are not enough.
If you start feeling like you are not enough – say this to yourself:
I am enough – I have always been enough – I will always be enough!
If people around you do not like it, let them go…. Because you are good enough to be surrounded with people who love you unconditionally.
Reconnect with yourself and your emotions
When we reconnect with ourselves, when we accept ourselves as we are and love ourselves as we are – without any judgment – it will set us free.
I’m a huge fan of Sadghuru’s teaching. One of his teachings talks about how all of your emotions are important. Somebody asked him a question:
Emotions seem to cause more trouble than they are worth. Aren’t we better off without them?
And he answered: “If there is no emotion at all in a human being, you cannot call him human. Emotion is a beautiful aspect of human life, without which a human being would become ugly. But as with anything, if emotion becomes unbridled, it becomes madness. If your thought becomes uncontrolled, it will become madness. If your emotion becomes uncontrolled, that too becomes insanity.”
And that is what we all are! Beautiful and pure human beings. All of our emotions make us so real and pure.
You have my permission to express and feel your emotions, without any pretense.
If you are afraid, scared or ashamed to ‘feel’ and go through it by yourself – me and my team are here for you. We will be holding your hand through your phone or the screen in your living room.
You can do this – feel and let go…
I know YOU CAN! Do you?