I spent this week reflecting on how averse the world I live in can be towards big “bad” feelings.
(Is it the same in yours?)
The world I live in pushes people away from being with grief and sorrow and anger and fear.
When someone dies, I hear “It’s okay, they’re in a better place.”
When I am sick, I hear “Just rest up and you’ll get better soon!”
When I’m going through hardship I hear, “Just keep going, it’ll get easier.”
I can’t blame the messengers – the family, friends, and co-workers who are trying their best to provide comfort and support in the way they were trained.
But I look at this world that begs us to get away from anything that’s not pleasant or easy or beautiful or fun and I see a world that teaches us to hide.
In my conversations with clients and with friends and with the many beautiful strangers on the internet who reach out to me every day, I hear that so many of us live in a world where to be to be sad is to be lonely, to be afraid is to be isolated, and to be angry is to be seething with unspoken resentment.
No wonder it’s so hard to be a person who feels things deeply, who doesn’t know how to “turn it off” or hide their emotions, who insists on authenticity. Trauma and depression and grief demand to be felt and refuse to “turn off” for convenience’s sake, leading those living with them to fall further and further away from their communities.
I sometimes wonder how much of the suffering of these experiences is more about the isolation and the exclusion than it is about the feelings themselves.
You might be thinking – what a bummer of a message Summer!
But I do have a suggestion.
When sadness comes to visit, just be with it.
I’m re-reading “The Guest House” by Rumi today. It starts,
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Only by welcoming all of our emotions as visitors who may have something important to share can we move with them, rather than being trapped within them.
I encourage you to make space for your feelings, and also for the feelings of the people in your life.
Notice when you want to pull away because of their expression of something real. Pay attention if you get defensive or dismissive and see if you can allow those to pass. Be with what is happening and get curious.
I wish you all the best with this – be kind to yourself and take care of yourself, the best you can.
What I’m Reading:
The Guest House by Rumi: This poem written in the 13th century (!!) is a gentle reminder to be with the emotions visiting you, rather than resist them or turn them away.
What I’m Listening To:
Three Steps to Heal from Trauma with Summer Forlenza on Starting Over with Shannon: I had the pleasure of sitting for an interview with Shannon a few weeks ago and I walked away uncertain. This was one of my first experiences sharing my story of illness, and I struggled through it. She actually asked me to re-answer some of the questions at the end so that I could approach them from a less activated state! In the end, I think she did an amazing job sharing my story and I’m grateful to her for doing so.
Also a cover of the song Running Up That Hill by Meg Myers. She opened for the My Chemical Romance concert I went to on Friday and I was instantly entranced.
Have a beautiful Sunday – no matter what emotions are visiting you today.