I don't blame ostriches.
When there is something overwhelming they find the best sense of safety in the sand. Away from the danger. Where they can't hear it, see it, smell it.
Surrounded by the warm, soft sand. Where they can get a break. Pretending that chaos and turmoil and fear are not swirling about above the ground. Hoping that if they can't see it, the danger coming will pass them by.
We are a lot like that sometimes without even realizing we are doing it.
Sometimes it feels like there is nothing productive to do with uncomfortable emotions. Like they are holding us back from life or need to be conquered.
So we hide from them with distractions.
We resist against them, determined not to feel that feeling.
And we react to them. Which feels important, but doesn't address the actual message the emotion has to offer.
I can describe it best by comparing it to a fire alarm going off on a Saturday morning.
If you are in bed, sleeping in, and you hear the alarm you could resist it by refusing to leave bed. Staying right where you are, determined to finish what you were doing.
Sleeping in. And if you've ever tried it, this is hard to do. Those buggers are loud and annoying.
You could react to it in fight or flight mode, yelling to all in the house to meet at the tree in the neighbor's yard, and running around as if you were already on fire.
You could distract from it by turning up your T.V. so the alarm is not the overpowering influence in the room.
None of these are productive and all of them are absolutely exhausting.
But....you could go see what is going on. Investigate. With curiosity and intent to to discover what it is all about.
You may find out your kids are just making pancakes. Bless 'em.
As uncomfortable as embarrassment, loneliness, loss, grief, and the whole spectrum of emotions can be, they are all important to experience.
You experience them the same way you investigate the alarm.
You listen. You get curious. You don't make it mean that something has surely gone wrong. You don't judge it, shut it up, yell at it, you just listen.
Have you ever paid attention to how hunger feels?
Did you know that there are different kinds that feel differently in the body?
This is the same way you get to know your emotions.
You sit with them. You recognize how they feel in your body. You get to know what thoughts are present with them until you could reproduce that feeling inside your body with a thought.
And when you get to know them so well, you can call them up at will from a position of authority rather than the prey that may get taken by something elusive and unseen. You can recognize that the feelings are from thoughts in your mind and that you have authority over those.
You're the boss of you.
Not your feelings.
And so next time you are tempted to overeat, overexercise, overspend, binge on Netflix, or popcorn, or alcohol, yell, shout, scream at another human, if you can take a moment to recognize that these impulses, like toddlers who LOSE. THEIR. CRAP when they don't get their own way, are not in charge of how you act.
You don't have to do anything in reaction.
You don't have to hide.
You don't even have to fight back.
Just give them a moment of attention and ask, "What, love? What are you trying to tell me?" from the fear, the remorse, the grief, the loss.
You may find answers that surprise you.
Grief may say, "Because I miss the life I used to have".
Remorse may say, "Because I wish I could do better".
Fear may say, "Because I may fail".
Loss may say, "Because I loved so deeply and feel the emptiness".
And begin a discussion that involves mutual respect and honor the experience of being a human who loves deeply and hurts deeply because they go together.
The questions I get the most are:
What if I can't stop feeling sad?
What if it swallows me?
What good will it do?
What if I am afraid?
My dear friend. I hear you.
The good thing is that being willing to feel the sad also opens up a greater capacity to feel happy. Our bodies and minds know how important it is to process the experiences we go through. Emotions are part of it.
When you feel like you are stuck in one feeling for too long, this is when it is time to seek help. A good counselor can help provide an interrupt, or help you through the depths of some types of pain. There are good people who have gone through heartache and sadness that have the tools to help you through yours as well. Reach out.
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