Whenever I express an emotion, I’m rarely ambivalent. Whether it’s “up”, “down” or just “meh”, whatever I’m feeling is apparent. But lately, when someone doesn’t seem to like, or be comfortable with whatever I’ve expressed, I’ve begun questioning the validity of my own feelings. It’s like I have my very own internal Cancel-Culture Chorus in my head.
As an adult I’ve learned that being able to share how or what I feel is a major puzzle-piece in my overall wellbeing. Not only joyful feelings (a little scarce, these days), but the unhappy or fearful stuff too.
The River of Tears that flow from the loss of a beloved person or pet. The dark green-black Forest of What’s Unknown, and what may never be known. All of it needs to come up, and out; be celebrated or released.
But recently there’s been a nagging question in my head: “How, when and why has stress around triggering someone else taken priority over honoring and expressing exactly who I am and how I feel?”
Instead of acting on all that I know about protecting and nourishing my own mental and emotional health, it seems like I’ve regressed: gone back to being cautious, even paranoid, about upsetting the people I love. And even people I barely know.
“Gone back”, because the generations of those who raised me (parents and grandparents tag-teamed the effort) taught me to resist expressing my truth. Whatever I felt, unless it came with a big smile, wasn’t “ok” to come up and out. The message: Always be polite and considerate of others; put their feelings ahead of your own. Needless to say…
I had a lot of de-programming to do as a twenty-something. Growing up in the late 1960’s and early 70’s gave me both permission and opportunity to do that. Over time I also learned that the people and experiences that came into my life were just mirror-images of whatever I was going through. The person I was becoming. The lessons I needed to learn.
So: since in the past two years I’ve been more uncertain, more fearful, and more off-balance than at any other other time in my adult life…should I be surprised that others in my world are feeling pretty much the same way? I feel encouraged…
Despite constant media messaging about being less connected as human beings, on an emotional level I believe that we’re actually more in-tune with each other than ever before.
Which is why feelings and emotions can feel so intense. So reactive. So scary and even threatening.
But instead of shrinking-back, tamping down my own emotions or worrying about how others might react, there’s new awareness and clarity creeping in to my daily process. For me, Living Bravely has never felt more important or more difficult than at this very moment.
Feeling, honoring and speaking my Truth — even if someone else is triggered by it — simply has to return as a Practice for me. Uncertainty, fear, and imbalance, is everywhere — so emotions are running-high. But, they are all valid because we all feel them.
Let them come up, and out; be celebrated or released.