On Emotional Honesty
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.
– Helen Keller
This week I’ve been reflecting a lot on the importance of feeling and expressing ALL our emotions. I watched this really beautiful cartoon with my daughter recently called “Inside Out” and it is all about what really goes on inside our head and how important it is to feel all our emotions. An absolutely fantastic topic for children to be watching today.
Throughout the whole movie the emotion of ‘Joy’ is constantly trying to keep everyone really happy and to keep ‘Sadness’ at bay, no matter what. But her desperation and pushing of ‘Happiness” and to block out “Sadness” creates such huge problems that end up leading everyone down one drama or another. In the end when ‘Joy’ finally let’s go and allows ‘Sadness’ to take over, the little girl breaks down, is overcome by sadness but then through her sadness very quickly drops into her heart, softens, relaxes and all the drama stops. And in her sadness and through her softened heart she finds a moment of pure love and joy.
Such a beautiful beautiful message – not just for children but for all of us.
Now a days it does drive me a little bit mad how much being ‘positive’ is pushed on us all over the place. Social media is a big one for that, everyone talking about constantly trying to be or stay positive, be happy, be positive, push past the struggles and straight back to the joy. I read it all and I almost feel exhausted by just reading it. It seems exhausting to me to be trying so hard to be positive all the time when it is just part of being a human being to have and feel ALL our feelings.
I remember once, many many years ago when I first started working with a therapist. I think this was nearly 16 years ago now – and this therapist said to me:
“Nicky, did you know that at the end of every single session, no matter how sad or angry you may be feeling, you just put this huge grin on your face, smile at me with big shiny eyes and walk out”. It’s like in that moment that grin completely wipes out all the honest vulnerability and life that you’ve just spent the whole session getting in touch with”.
To be honest, when she told me this I was shocked. I had no idea I had this permanent ‘fake’ grin on my face but once she pointed it out I couldn’t help but notice how often I did it. ALL THE TIME!!! Happy, Happy, Happy – I have to be happy! It was exhausting!
But being happy and nice and kind and positive seemed like the only attractive acceptable emotions and ways to be and I was too afraid to be anything else. But using up all my energy to be happy all the time was blocking me from being me, blocking me from being honest and blocking me from being human.
In the world today it seems happiness is the only really acceptable emotion and everything else can be felt but then tidied up so quickly. And I don’t agree with this – why are we all trying so hard to be happy and positive all the time? What would happen if we were just all honest? All of us? Telling the truth, allowing ourselves to feel and be exactly where we are?
For me personally, I think it would be bloody awesome!!
I’ve never been a big one for using affirmations either, I used to do them ALL the time. Constantly repeating over and over again these positive phrases going round and round and round in my head, written on my windows, mirrors, on my phone, on my hand, everywhere. But over the past few years I’ve noticed it just doesn’t feel right. There I am chanting these affirmations over and over but underneath i am feeling something else and I’m pretty much just ignoring myself and barking what I think I should be feeling over the top of it.
Do better, smile, tidy yourself up, be pretty, be happy, be presentable, don’t make a scene, don’t be negative, don’t be miserable, don’t be grumpy. Heard these commands and demands before? I know I have, a lot, in my head and all around me.
When I went through my miscarriage a few months back, I was overcome by such unbelievable bouts of grief that i literally had no control over them at all. The waves of emotions would hit me like a ton of bricks and all I could do was sob. It didn’t matter if we had friends over, if I was at the shops, on the street, on the loo. It just came – these tidal waves of life flowing through me and thankfully I had absolutely no ability to stop it. And what was so beautiful to learn was with each wave of sadness that came, in the very moment that I felt my heart breaking, I would feel my heart opening. In the exact same moment I felt the most sadness I would begin to feel such beauty, love and joy. Almost ecstasy.
I have learnt that the more I can surrender to all my emotions, without controlling and suppressing, then they often will lead me to somewhere I could never have dreamed of. Somewhere so intimate, beautiful and alive.
It is not the actual emotions that cause us problems, it is us trying so hard to control them, push past them, tidy them up.
Just like in that beautiful cartoon. If you get a chance to watch it, please do, it is wonderful.
So, if you are someone, like me, that does or has struggled with allowing yourself to feel all your emotions then I am writing this for you. And if you are someone, like me, that struggles to really let yourself ‘be’ where you are without immediately trying to push yourself out of it, then I am writing this post for you.
All the emotions we feel, ALL of them, sadness, anger, fear, insecurity, anxiety and joy are part of who we are. They are the richness, the life and the framework that make us into us. If we cut off some of them we are cutting off parts of ourselves from being fully alive and present in our life.
So please, let yourself be alive. Let yourself ‘be’ wherever you are. It is beautiful, you are beautiful. I promise you, things will move past faster and more smoothly the less we interfere.
So let’s all stop ‘trying’ so hard to BE HAPPY and just let ourselves ‘BE’.
Much love to you all and wishing you all a beautifully honest week full of all the emotions.