I've been learning about group counseling this semester, and part of the class is actually being a counseling group. The purpose of the group is personal growth.
I've gained a lot of insights through the experience, but the one that sticks out with me is this one: Why can't we just feel?
What is with this need to appear as though we have it together all of the time? "I'm fine," "I'm good," "Things are great!" when really you can't stop crying over your oatmeal because your dad is sick or you hate your job or that guy you like doesn't like you back.
Life sucks sometimes. And while I'm all for positive psychology, I think negative emotions have an important place in our lives. And being honest about how we feel has an even more important place.
My group leader made an awesome point on this topic the other night that got my brain racing. What happens when an animal is wounded?
They retrieve. They cower. Others attack.
Either way, animals don't hold back in expressing two of the dubbed "ugly" emotions -- fear and anger -- for purposes of survival.
I'm reading a book that talks about communicating our emotions in a more positive way. But, the author never says to ignore what you are feeling. She says feelings and emotions indicate to us that there is a problem.
What if we think of hurt, sad, mad and scared as mechanisms for survival? Indicators that change is necessary? I wrote in a post awhile back about how I was going to sit with my sadness post-breakup. I was just going to feel it. And I did, for a little while. But, truth be told, that guy I love was struggling with the sadness, too. And now we are finding ourselves back in the same exact spot we were in before we parted ways. Nothing has really changed. Maybe the sadness was there for a reason, and I can't help but wonder if maybe we tried to escape it just a little too soon.
So my point here is this -- so what if you are the sad girl for the day? Or the angry one? If you really are sad or angry? What if it were okay to not be "happy" and "pleasant" 24/7? What if we were honest about what we were feeling? What then? What may change if we just allow ourselves to feel it until we don't need to feel it anymore?
I remember a break up years ago where I truly believed at that time I wasn't going to make it through. I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. But then I made it. One day, I just wasn't sad anymore. And you know what? I have never looked back. I've never missed him or second guessed it. And I have a hunch it's because I let myself go there. I let myself feel all of it.