Sometimes we don't like the sadness that comes over us after a hard breakup. Maybe we hold our anger in, because the thought of feeling true anger scares us. Or maybe we have a hard time just being okay with what we feel in general, because we second guess ourselves. Do you relate to any of these? Do you have a hard time allowing yourself to just feel in the moment and be okay with whatever that looks like?
We as a culture tend to only be okay with feelings of happiness and quite frankly any other feelings that could include sadness or anger have a horrible connotation attached to them. Why? These feelings are apart of the range of our human emotions, so what makes us not okay with them? Because they make us uncomfortable? We don't like seeing others feeling sad and therefore feel like we have to do something to help them feel happier. But why can't we be okay letting someone be sad. If someone is angry, we feel like we have to calm them down, because for most of us, anger can be scary. But what we are communicating is that we are not okay with what they are feeling and therefore need to change it, out of our own discomfort. What if we let ourselves be uncomfortable and just focused on supporting our friends and family where they are at, in their current emotion. By stifling their emotions, we are doing them no favor. These emotions have to come out sooner or later and I promise you they will find a way to come out, eventually. And usually unannounced. So feeling them in the moment is the best way for our body to release them.
Maybe it's not watching someone else be angry or hurting that bothers you, but you don't like seeing it in yourself. No one likes to feel pain, but the reality of life is that we will feel pain. We live in a tough world and therefore pain is almost guaranteed. What makes us so uncomfortable with the idea of sadness?
Maybe you grew up in an angry environment and the thought of you being angry scares the living day lights out of you because you always told yourself that you would never be angry. The reality is that if this is what you saw growing up, it is what you are going to know as normal, whether it be unconscious or conscious. We do what we know and if all that we have been shown is anger, that's probably what we will do. That's okay. There is nothing wrong with you. Be okay with anger and where you are at.
While I am saying to let yourself and others feel the emotions that they do, there is most certainly an unhealthy level of feeling the pain and anger. Just because you are angry, doesn't mean you have the right to take it out on other people or throw things. There is a point at which anger can become destructive. The same goes for sadness. It can turn destructive towards ourselves. We want to be able to acknowledge these feelings, but also remain regulated. We can do so by being okay with what we are feeling, while also keeping ourselves controlled through breathing. Sometimes just taking some deep breaths can help us from becoming destructive in our anger but also allowing the feeling to flow and not shut it down. Same goes for sadness. We can let ourselves cry and feel the sadness while taking some deep breaths to not let the sadness overcome us.
If it feels overwhelming, talk to someone about it. Someone who will support you. Don't deal with it alone.
Overall, many people tend to feel like they "shouldn't" feel a certain way and I say, if you are feeling it, let it ride. There is no right or wrong to what we feel. We get in the way of ourselves and others and we need to just take a step back and support. Support both ourselves and others in their journey.
Do you tend to get in your own way? How can you take a step back and allow yourself and others to feel what they need to?
Brittany Wingfield, MS, LPCC