Ever told someone…I’m fine! I’m good! Thank you for asking! When you really felt like the weight of the world was on you?
Recently, I posted a ted talk by Glennon and I realized that I did not do my thoughts or you the reader justice, by not really conveying my feelings and ideas about what I heard. Therefore, I want to take the time to do so now. (If you have not watched it, I recommend you do so before reading on! Her video is attached to my last post.)
Most of our lives, we are taught that negative feelings and emotions are unwelcome and even unacceptable. We also seek to hide our sensitive selves in a world that is anything but easy or sensitive.
When we are little, this concept is often impressed upon us by our parents or caretakers. Our somewhat over protective and mostly well-meaning caretakers, who rushed to console any emotional or physical turmoil we were experiencing, that caused us to burst into tears or begin to cry out loud. The desire, of course, was to “make things better” and to “provide comfort.” However, the underlying message might have been…“It is not ok to feel this way….discomfort must be immediately solved or made better somehow.”
As we grow up, we often learn that other people do not want to hear about our problems. When someone asks you how you are doing, the expected answer is “I’m fine, thank you…and you?” Society seems to have deemed this answer to be the polite answer, because we were only asking to be polite, not because we wanted the truth of the matter. You may have even noticed during a rough patch in your life, how many people disappear or distance themselves from you. We are expected to eventually “get over it” on our own, and the faster, the better. No one wants to be around a “debbie downer” or a “negative nancy.” It simply is just not all that much fun! Even social media has become a place to prove to others, how good/positive our lives are. Negative, sad, or difficult emotions are often not posted because doing so might prove that our lives are not perfect or perfectly happy.
So, what is the message in all this? Hide your feelings, keep negative, sad or uncomfortable thoughts and feelings to yourself. Deal with difficult life issues on your own and always answer with “fine, and you?” Stop being so sensitive!
Push away the bad….only accept and share the good.
The problem with this is this is how most of us end up in an emotional crisis or turning to alcohol, drugs or other unhealthy coping mechanisms. At least our coping mechanisms do not judge us, right? We tried to be strong for too long and refused to share our burdens with another person for fear of being rejected or “bringing them down.” We make many attempts not to deal with or expose our negative feelings because we are given many messages throughout life that say those kinds of feelings are not acceptable to share, or you are weak if you cannot simply manage them yourself.
The truth is, the negative and positive experiences in life are equally important and valuable. I believe we would be a much healthier and happier society as a whole, if we could learn to talk to each other about what is really going on, instead of burying it and/or trying to manage it on our own.
What would life be like, if you woke up tomorrow and suddenly it was completely acceptable to share how you feel and what you are going through, regardless if it is positive or negative, with others? To have your feelings and emotions be validated and be truly heard. For it to be acceptable to feel sad, lonely, depressed or even angry and to know you do not have to work through those feelings alone. To be embraced, rather than rejected or shied away from, until you are “feeling better.”
What would it be like? How would life be different for you?
Glennon speaks to this during her ted talk, telling her own personal story. She talks about what is like to say, actually, ……today I am not fine. It is an amazing talk, if you have not watched it yet, I highly recommend you do! If you have ever struggled in life, I think you will appreciate her talk. It says so much more than I can.
Glennon says life is messy! Life is beautiful and life is brutal. Life is brutifiul! Everybody is worthy, just because she/he exists! Honor your feelings. Do not hide, come out into the beautiful, bright, messy, brutiful world just as you are.
One thing that hit home for me, was when she said she knew something was wrong at the age of eight. She was really upset about something and so she ran to the kitchen and stuffed her feelings down with food. Then she felt guilty and she immediately ran to the bathroom to throw it up. When she was lying spent on the bathroom floor, whatever it was that she was so upset about, did not matter anymore…… and that is what she wanted. She did not want to have to feel it.
If you do not have encouraging people in your life who are willing to listen and be there for you no matter what, I encourage you to turn to a counselor/therapist you can connect with.
No one should have to endure difficult times or hardship alone.
(photo by www.installationsanitaire.net)