Our body is in a constant cycle of thoughts, emotions and follow on behaviour whether we realise it or not. So stop just for a moment and think about all the thoughts you have on a daily basis and the level of emotion you feel with those constant thoughts. It’s an essential part of being human! Emotions drive us! So why are these given such a bad rep and why do we hear the negative messaging around emotions so early on in life?
Stop and think about the things you’ve heard or have been told and conform to when it comes to emotions. Boys don’t cry – Don’t say anything or you might make them cry/angry – Get over it – Toughen up – It will be embarrassing if I get upset – She’s so weak, she cries at the drop of a hat and so on…
My parents were tough when I was younger. My Mum was English and very much the “stiff upper lip” – be strong carry on. My Dad, a Kiwi but still of the old school thinking that males should be tough, strong, carry the weight of the world, shouldn’t cry and certainly suck it up when it came to tough situations. Sometimes I’d come home from school and find my Mum crying in the kitchen (it almost felt like she was hiding) but she would be embarrassed, quick to dismiss and say everything is fine!
I had a great fascination for people from a young age. I couldn’t understand that way of thinking, so observing people suffer and not let themselves express emotions seemed very unhealthy to me even that long ago. When we stuff down our emotions, the energy from them has to go somewhere and that in the longer term becomes unhealthy. I certainly don’t have it cracked but I’m not afraid to cry over a movie, or a beautiful note written to me by my kids, when I say goodbye at airports, get mad when something fails and I’m disappointed or to feel jealous, sad or embarrassed. But still there is a social conform that often happens and I too fall into that trap.
The most important thing about emotions is to be self aware of what’s coming up for you and why. Be curious – why are you feeling that way and what made you feel like that. In simple terms, emotions are meant to make us move toward things that are good for us and move away from things that are bad for us. So think about that context!
Tune in to your feelings as it allows you to make a conscious decision on how best to respond. Feelings aren’t right or wrong — they just are but it’s what we do with them that can really help. When you stop judging your feelings, and just be curious, you can be more open to looking at them and owning them. This is the first step in controlling and expressing feelings in useful and healthy ways.
So take some time out to think about your regular “feels” or your “emotions” and what they might be telling you. To be mentally fit also means to be Feeling Fit – so it’s time we all start understanding ours more and be OK to express them in a healthy way and to let others do the same.