It’s okay to feel. Having emotions is okay. We tell ourselves that we need to stay strong, but if we prevent ourselves from feeling the weight of life from time to time, it will manifest itself in ways that you could never imagine.
As we repress more and more of our emotions, it starts to compound layer upon layer until it encases us in impenetrable body armor. While that armor helps to protect us from the bad in life, it also “protects” us from fully experiencing the joys that come with it.
By repressing your emotions and not processing them, you’re subconsciously learning to avoid them, and due to that avoidance, you prevent yourself from healing fully, if at all. Avoiding how you feel can lead to depression, addiction, compulsions, irrational fear, abuse, overeating, and a whole host of other physical and mental abnormalities.
Instead of digging into our emotions we tend to pursue distractions to keep our mind off it. Distractions by themselves can off track your life in ways that you never intended. You can decide to work long hours to avoid saying I’m sorry to your spouse, only to push them further away because “you’re never around anymore.” You could also turn to shopping to get your mind off the passing of a loved one, pushing you further and further into debt. Or, you can decide to eat junk food because your significant other left you, and you gain 20 pounds because of it.
The cost of not tending to your emotions are high. Unhealed wounds fester. They get gangrenous and work to mute the positive emotions in your life such as joy and laughter, love and curiosity. Repressed emotions can destroy your relationships, cost you your job, and can even lead to physical diseases.
Face Your Emotions
As I said in my opening sentence, it’s okay to feel. Nobody has the right to tell you how you should feel about something, and you shouldn’t feel embarrassed by the way you feel. Positively expressing your emotions is okay. No, I’m not about getting angry and breaking things, I’m talking about being okay with yourself for being angry to begin with. Then and only then can you find a way to transmute those negative emotions into something positive.
Transmuting your negative emotions into something positive can be done in three steps, they are:
#1. Get Your Mind Right. If you go through life believing that you don’t have to face your negative emotions, then you will continue to avoid them. In turn, they will eat at you and prevent you from obtaining true happiness. Instead, tell yourself that they must be faced. That you can’t run from them. But, above all, convince yourself that negative emotions are for the strong, that they present a challenge to be overcome. Remember, you aren’t weak because you feel.
#2. Know What To Look Out For. If you’re in the habit of avoiding your emotions, pay attention to patterns of seeking pleasure, overeating, escape, or even excessive work hours. These are usually the best signs that you’re working, maybe even subconsciously, to repress your emotions. If that’s the case, stop it. Knowing your triggers goes a long way to allowing you to better focus on step three.
#3. Transmute The Emotion. Allow yourself to feel the pain behind the negative emotion. Don’t judge yourself for feeling the way you feel. Take ownership. Don’t blame another person for the way you feel; you own your reactions. The idea here is to let yourself live in the emotions. Feel all of it. Don’t pull back even if it gets tough, because many times it will. Soon you will start to relax but keep digging until you find the positive of the situation. Maybe you lost your job but found out that was just the push you needed to start your own business. Or perhaps you lost a big client, only to be released from the stress of working with them.
For step three to work, you must be open to where your thoughts take you. At first, just let them flow, but then start giving the negative emotions less thought while giving the positive ones more. Focus on the good that can be found at the moment that caused the negative emotions. No, this isn’t easy, but you own your reactions. Keep in mind that you may have to go through these steps multiple times but be patient with yourself, wounds can take time to heal. But, at least your tending to them.
You can’t live life on the run, ping-ponging from one extreme to the next because you lack the courage to face everything that life throws at you. Learn from your emotional trauma and grow. Find your purpose despite your wounds. Heal forward by standing firm and looking the hurt right in the eye. Stop running and start living!