A few weeks ago, my dear friend and business partner Melaina Spitzer attended the funeral of a woman who changed her life. This woman’s name was Sobonfu Some.
Sobonfu was a spiritual leader who grew up in Burkina Faso, West Africa. Her mission was to teach rituals from her home to the people of the West to help them connect more deeply with community and Spirit. Among the powerful rituals she shared were grief rituals.
Sobonfu supported countless people in being with and moving through their grief by creating a space where they could honor their emotions and their process. Her rituals were a critical part of these people’s healing and learning.
Like Sobonfu, I believe that being with our emotions and processing how we feel in a healthy way is critically important. When we push down our emotions, we create internal blocks. When we block our emotional energy, we also block our creative energy, the energy we have available for connection (to others, nature, ourselves), and more.
We cannot block off our hearts and expect every other part of our lives to flow as normal.
And yet being with our emotions is often comfortable.
We want to get over it. We want to fix what’s making us upset. We want things to get “back to normal.”
I GET IT because this is how I acted with my emotions for most of my life.
Until a few years ago, I hated crying. In fact, I avoided most emotions other than happiness – anger, frustration and sadness were all in my no-go zone.
I did not let myself express these emotions because I fundamentally (and subconsciously) adhered to certain limiting beliefs:
1) If I were anything other than happy, I was an imposition
2) My “negative” emotions would detract from or ruin others’ experiences
3) My value as a person was my ability to be optimistic, joyful and happy
4) It was selfish to ask for “too much” of others’ support.
5) There was a quota around how much sadness, anger or frustration I could have at any given time
6) I would be unlovable if people thought I was too emotional
As I write these beliefs now, I feel a weight on my chest and a deep sense of sadness. I have so much compassion for the person who believed those things and I am grateful to have re-created my relationship to my emotions.
Why I Now Love My Anger and Sadness
I Have More Intimacy, Honesty and Support Than Ever Before
I previously believed that sharing my emotions would alienate others. Instead, I’ve found the opposite: When I open up, people are more than willing to be with me, hear me, and answer my requests for support. In fact, they often express their appreciation at seeing this new, vulnerable side of me and that THEY now feel more open to sharing their emotions. By opening up to these emotions, I’ve created more intimacy, honesty and support for both myself and the other people in my life.
I Support Others More Deeply Than Before
What we withhold from ourselves, we withhold from others. In allowing myself to be with my emotions, my ability to be with others’ emotions skyrocketed. I have more compassion, love and openness toward myself and others in my life.
I Establish Better Boundaries
When we set boundaries and stand up for our needs, we may make other people frustrated, angry, or sad. Learning to be with others’ emotions can therefore help us stick to the boundaries we set. Furthermore, the act of expressing anger and sadness (in a healthy way) can help people better understand our boundaries and what we need. In this way, the act of expressing our emotions is one of the most basic forms of boundary setting.
I Learn Important Lessons
When I notice intense emotions arise, I can zoom out and see what it means about what I need and my values. For instance, the other day I felt frustrated when I sat down at my computer in my office. I sat with this feeling and realized I wasn’t honoring my value of freedom by working at home five days a week. I packed up my computer, headed out to a cafe, and happily did work all morning from a different location. I was much more productive and happy there than I would have been at home.
I Feel More Energy, Freedom and Humanity
Because I give myself space to process my emotions, they don’t interrupt my life the way they used to. I used to spend a lot of energy holding back or hiding my emotions. It took more energy to hide these emotions than for to address them in a healthy way! I also previously believe that it was wrong or bad to experience intense sadness and intense joy in the same day (let alone the same hour – would people think I was crazy?!). By not making my emotions wrong and allowing them to be, I get to live more authentically and with more space to have creativity, joy, sadness, anger, play and more in my day-to-day.
Readers, do you struggle to be with your emotions? Which ones do you find most challenging? What is the cost of avoiding them or pushing them down?
I would love to hear your responses on my Facebook page.
Happy Friday, and enjoy this beautiful weekend.
With love and happy feet,