Feel the Feelings
May 24, 2022
“Don’t Cry, we will buy you an ice cream for you if you stop crying”, “Brave girls/boys don’t cry, people will laugh at you, see everyone is already looking at you”, “If I laugh at a joke they may think I am not intelligent and mature enough”, “I must not express my happiness for the good job done by my subordinate, they may ask for a promotion”, “I must not say I am feeling sad or depressed”, “if you cry, police will come”, “don’t look overjoyed at winning an award, people may think you did not expect it or may be don’t deserved it at the first place” well, this is what we hear every day in parks when a child falls down while cycling, when a colleague had a bad day, someone did not get the promotion they deserved or someone won an award. Its happiness or sadness, we try for self and teach others to suppress emotions without even recognizing them.
We live in a sophisticated world where everything must look as perfect as possible, especially when it comes to expressing oneself. All these façades of the pretentious world create multiple layers, one our expression of self-emotions. And finally where all this suppressing, fabricating, pretending, and faking of feelings leads is not so perfect a place, rather is a turbulent, raging and dormant place of our subconscious. This leads to losing on self-expression, being authentic and ultimately losing the self and who we are. There are no Good or Bad feelings, there are only feelings, we tag them good or bad as established by our culture and society we live in.
There are no Good or Bad feelings, there are only feelings, we tag them as good or bad as established by our culture and society we live in.
When feelings are not recognized, suppressed for long, creates a fertile land for poor emotional intelligence for self, other and society. What happens when we don’t give feelings an opportunity to manifest themselves and pass away in the most harmonious way.
Suppression of feelings results in one of more of the below
1. Taking them out on others, your children, subordinates, driver, house help spouse, friends, colleagues, fellow citizens on the road anyone who either becomes a trigger or is one you consider has lower power than you.
2. Stress eating
3. Intoxication of any kind
5. Trying to forget self by indulging in something that numbs you
When it is not socially expected until now that one expresses their feelings explicitly, there is rather a better way to channelize it and let it pass through. If feelings suppressed for long turn into venom, recognize them and let them pass through.
First step is to recognize them, don’t hide them, at least to self. If you feel sad, happy, excited, depressed anything, recognize it, and accept “right now I am feeling …….”.
Secondly find the trigger or source of it which will help in not taking out them on others and break the chain of passing negative emotions.
Having said that, its everyone’s responsibility to help self and support family, friends and coworkers to manage their stress up to Eustress threshold and not to let it go beyond that. Organizations, manager, leaders need to consider impact of stress beyond Eustress level and include it in employee welfare programs.
“Recognize, identify source, and let it pass through”
And Finally follow one or more from the below list to let them pass away.
1. Journal them, when we write feelings, we identify them and express, it gets a channel to pass away.
2. Observe breathing (Aananpaan Meditation, Vipassana). Rather than running away from feelings, we can calmly observe breath and see emotions. When we are agitated breathing is fast and much hotter. This is not running away from them but observing which sooner or later lets it go.
3. Talk to a trusted friend or a mentor. Objective is not to find a solution but to express your feelings.
4. Mindfulness meditation (Vipassana)
5. Cry out loud, or scream and let it go
6. Spend time in nature and observe trees, plants, birds actually it works for me almost every time. I can send hours in nature to let go of my emotions.
We all are diverse and different ways work for every one of us. Experiment what works for you in expressing your feelings and feeling them rather than crushing them deep down to add fuel to a sleeping volcano of turbulent emotions in your subconscious which may erupt again with a slightest trigger.
By doing this, you are not suppressing them, suppression is intoxicating. I remember lines from my daughter’s nursery poem “We are going on bear hunt….”
Lyrics: We’re going on a bear hunt. We’re going on a bear hunt. Gonna spot a big one. Gonna spot a big one. I’m not scared. I’m not scared. Oh, look at those tall reeds. They’re so tall. They’re so tall. We can’t go over it. We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. We can’t go under it. We’ll have to go through it. We’ll have to go through it. Swish, swish, swish, swish.
It has beautiful lines “…We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. We’ll have to go through it.” Emotions are like that; we need to go through them to let them go. We cannot have a workaround for them.
We can't go over it. We can't go under it. We’ll have to go through it
So next time if your child falls from the bicycle, don’t say “brave children don’t cry” or “police will come”, rather say “I understand how it feels, I can see your hurt. It’s part of learning to fall and try again. You will soon overcome this pain and try again”. This way you are not asking them to suppress their emotions, rather helping them to recognize them, identify sources and address them. Same you can try with your family, friends, colleagues, after all, they are human with emotions and feelings too.
More openly we talk about emotional intelligence, feelings and self-expression, we can create a more resilient society, close relationships with self and others and build community consciousness.