Yesterday I got a sunburn. From lying on the grass for 15 minutes in between picking up a package at the post office, and taking a call with my next client for the day. It was the first time I had laid on grass since September and it was probably the first time I had worn a tank top without bringing a sweater since August.
Needless to say, it was a beautiful Montana afternoon. Blue skies. Big puffy clouds up above. Sun coming down. People on bikes and in shorts and dresses and sandals.
“I made it!!” I thought. Summer is finally here. I was out of the woods with winter. And man did it feel great. Like working hard and finally getting the A. Or the enjoyment of a really clean closet once you put the effort into cleaning it out.
About two hours later, I was in a coffee shop with my friend, sitting with my back to the window. His eyes dart towards the door and he smirks… “Whoa look at the rain come down!”
In an “are you kidding me” eye roll glance I turn my head toward the window and see the rain, coming down, hard.
“What the hell Montana!?” I said and giggled, looking at the changing tide with a loving glance.
I knew the weather was extreme here when I moved here, but I didn’t realize how quickly in a day it can change. From sunburn to rainboots in two hours flat. I certainly wasn’t used to this sort of thing, but it was actually kind of cool. Montana has such a dynamic personality!
There’s a joke here that goes “If you don’t like the weather in Montana…wait five minutes.”
The extremes can be a bit jarring, but it’s all part of the landscape. It’s unpredictable, but it’s also what makes this place so dynamic. So dramatically breathtaking. It’s part of what makes it special and great.
And this got me thinking about life. And emotions.
People tend to think that there are “good” or acceptable emotions, and that there are “bad” or unacceptable emotions. We’re ok with feeling certain things, and absolute no fucking WAY ok with feeling other things (shame, guilt, fear, anxiety, embarrassment, worry).
And not only are we not ok with feeling these things, but we all build up very intricate systems to guard against all the evil “bad” emotions when they show up. Like distractions to “get our mind off” whatever we’re feeling. Or alcohol to “numb out the pain.” Or Facebook to get attention from other people so we don’t need to think about how we’re feeling.
But by doing these things, by distracting, by numbing, by placing our attention elsewhere, we’re actually just putting a band-aid on the emotion. And by doing that, we’re actually making the wound worse. Because it doesn’t get to breathe. It never gets to heal. It never gets to do what it came here to do…which is be felt, and then move on. Instead, it gets trapped.
The only way to heal and the only way to “get rid of” a tough emotion is to actually allow the emotion to be there. To actually feel it. To let it run through the body and run its course, rather than be trapped in there by us trying to put band-aids on it all the time. The true surgery for emotions is not to cover them up, but rather to allow. Accept. Feel. Embrace.
There’s a statistic that says that if you truly feel a feeling for 90 seconds, it will disappear. 90 SECONDS. Which is so much better than the days, weeks, years it usually sticks around by us trying not to feel.
So next time you have a tough emotion creep up, next time you hate yourself for missing an ex, or are in total grief over losing a loved one, or so worried about your future you can hardly sleep, or feeling so guilty about something you did (or didn’t do) in the past, remember to feel the feeling.
If you don’t like how you’re feeling…wait five minutes. Give it time to be there.
By allowing, by giving the emotion space and time, you will experience a sense of ease and the emotion will no longer have a hold on you. And know that the ability to feel a broad spectrum of emotions is one of the most beautiful things about you. It makes you dynamic. And great. And uniquely you.
After my teacup was empty, and after my meeting with my friend was over, I grabbed my bag to head out the door and guess what…the sun was once again shining. I headed back out to the grass and watched the clouds go by.
And this is a Wildheart Life. Riding the wave. Being honest about what you’re feeling. Lying on the grass. :)
This is Part I of this post. Part II, next week will tell you how to actually do this whole “feel your feelings” thing. Stay tuned.
What tough emotions are you experiencing right now? What do you tend to want to do when you start feeling tough emotions? What do you think the effect of that has been? Leave a comment below.
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