Running away from all the “bad feels”
Ya know when sometimes you’re not having a great day and you tell a loved one and they try come up with a solution for you… but that isn’t really what you wanted? You just wanted someone to hold space for you and kind of hear you out?
Quick. Fix it! We tell ourselves.
This is a bad feeling. This is an uncomfortable feeling. It is wrong and it needs to not be here.
Find the hidden lesson. FIND IT!!
When the mood strikes…
I woke up one day this week and I was in a bad mood. And while I knew there were things I could do to pull myself out of this mood, I just… didn’t want to do it. When I scraped my hip on the corner of the kitchen table and bent over, winded, convinced I had been sliced clean in half, I didn’t want to breathe deeply and count to ten, dammit. I wanted to let out a yell that sounded like a mix between a hyena orgy and two monster trucks colliding into each other.
There was something just so good about letting the emotion course through my body. It felt good to stomp my feet around the house like an overconfident toddler hyped-up on red cordial. It felt fantastic to yell “shut the fuck up!” to the birds going apeshit outside my window.
I gave myself full permission to feel it. This voice in my head said; okay, you psycho. You do what you gotta do. As long as you’re not taking it out on innocent people or making any rash, permanent decisions (such as getting a forehead tattoo proclaiming I HATE EVERYTHING) go for it.
Why do we run away from feeling bad?
According to an excellent article in psychology today, humans are prone to avoiding bad feelings because, well, they feel bad (in other breaking news, the sky is blue). We have associated negative feelings with being a negative thing, so would much rather distract ourselves or act like it’s not happening.
“There are several reasons why emotional avoidance is harmful,” says Dr. Noam Shpancer.
“First, important goals and pursuits in your life may inherently involve going through some challenging times and situations, and an unwillingness to ‘pay the toll’ for the trip may narrow your life horizons needlessly.”
“Over time, avoidance becomes a prison, because after a while you begin to feel the need to avoid many situations, people, experiences and places that may bring the negative emotion to mind, stir it, or remind you of it. And the more you avoid, the weaker you feel, the more your coping skills diminish, and the less of life you can experience.”
Human for a reason
Currently I am very slowly learning Spanish in El Salvador. Given it is a tropical climate, it is usually very hot. The word for hot, like a hot coffee, is caliente. So I thought saying “Estoy caliente hoy” -I am hot today- was the right thing to say to everyone in the town, every day. A few months later I found out, in fact, the right thing to say is “Tengo calor” -I’ve got heat- as when the word “caliente” is applied to a person, it means horny. So essentially I had been walking around telling the whole town “I am horny” (perhaps that is why I made many friends, very quickly.) But if I wanted to avoid further shame like that, I would have to avoid practicing my Spanish, which in turn would cut of many conversations and wonderful experiences with Spanish speaking people.
Shame, agitation, anger, sadness, melancholy, nostalgia, embarrassment.
We are human for a reason.
We were given this capacity of emotions, to feel them.
Next time you try outrun a bad mood because you’re thinking: it shouldn’t be like this, consider this:
Maybe it is exactly how it should be. Perhaps your agitation is asking you to feel it. Maybe living a big life calls for these emotions to be felt, and often.
I do think yoga and meditation are useful tools to really step outside the situation, look inside, and realize in the scheme of things, what is making you angry is not even a flea on the whole dogs butt of life. Positive thinking is fab for turning a situation on its head and stimulating radical gratitude.
Sometimes you just need to let yourself feel like shit.
And usually you’ll find once you just go through whatever feeling you need to go through, it passes sooner than expected.
Featured Image: Tim Swallow