One time I was watching the news and a man was tasered. A reporter interviewed him after this happened and asked him how he felt. He said, “It didn’t affect me.” This man had fallen to the ground, clearly impacted, but he insisted he didn’t feel anything.
I remember attending a funeral, and overhearing someone talking to a person who was in the throes of their grief. This person told them, “You’ve just got to be strong. Stop crying.” If it’s not acceptable to cry at a funeral, then where is it ok to cry? What is it about our society that makes us feel as though we can’t admit to being affected by things that would move most people?
There is something about our culture that looks down on showing emotion. We’re just not huge fans of allowing people to feel things out in the open. Living in this kind of society teaches the people in it to deny what they’re actually feeling. We’re constantly pretending.
In some instances, like when you’re at work, you may not want to burst into tears, or if you’re around people you don’t know that well you may not feel comfortable being vulnerable. But that doesn’t mean to shove those feelings down and never feel them. It’s ok to put things off for a moment, as long as that moment doesn’t become forever.
There can be some value in compartmentalizing. It is ok to tell yourself, “I can’t feel this at the moment, but at some point today, I’m going to allow myself the time and space to really feel the impact of this.” Just to be clear, compartmentalizing doesn’t mean that you don’t revisit those emotions. It means that you pause for a moment, do what you need to do, and then come back to them later.
This doesn’t just apply to sad or challenging emotions either. Sometimes before I’m about to do something really big, something that I’ve been dreaming of and working toward, I journal about it. I ask myself how I’m feeling and give myself the space to process. I pre-feel my feelings. Then, in the moment I can be fully present and not overwhelmed by my feelings because I’ve already acknowledged how amazing the experience is.
It can be really harmful to exist in a space where you insist that you don’t care about the things that are happening to you. Sometimes we just need to cry. We need to be angry. We need to allow ourselves to really process the jealousy we’re feeling. When we don’t, those feelings will find other ways to make themselves known. We may be passive aggressive, or respond in a way that is over the top for the given situation because our emotions have been building for a while.
We have to give ourselves room to feel, which can be uncomfortable. We may not want others to see us in various emotional states. One time I looked in the mirror as I was crying and it stopped me from crying because it looked so bad. Your face is all puffy, your nose is running. I get it. It may not be how you want to be seen, but it is what you need to do.
How do you make time to feel your feelings? Do you sit with yourself? Do you journal?
When was the last time you pretended to not care about something when you really did? What made you feel as though you had to pretend?
The Today Show. I was recently on Today with Hoda & Jenna talking with Charlamagne, Jay Barnett and Dr. Alfiee about mental health.
When you’re in a situation where you really can’t express your feelings, whether you’re at work, or in the middle of a crisis, or some other scenario, how do you get through those moments? What helps you? Tell me about it in the comments below.