There came a time in my life when I lost sight of what made me happy. People would say, do what makes you happy! Just have fun! And I thought, I just don’t know what makes me happy anymore. I had become so consumed with doing, achieving, surviving, putting out fires in the work place and protecting myself from bad things happening.
It felt like there was no time or space in my life for fun, play or happiness. I no longer knew what made me happy.
It took me a few more years to slow the pace of my life, to make significant changes and to start to discover what made me happy. And on the way to this place, I felt a lot of things that were not pleasurable. As I began to remove the distractions of work, food, relationships, alcohol, recreational drugs and anti-depressants, feelings emerged that had been repressed for so long. I had to feel pain, sadness, fear, confusion, anxiety and grief. I had to learn not to run from these feelings and numb them out. That these feelings were part of my healing, and in order to heal, I had to feel.
NO MORE NUMB AND RUN
It took work and time and patience and dedication.
I read positive quotes on Instagram, learned how to untangle the wiring in my brain, learned to reframe my obstacles as opportunities and have a consistently positive mental attitude. However, I also saw how all these methods can lead to a Spiritual Bypass. That is, after exploring the upset, working with forgiveness and moving into acceptance about what is – there was STILL deeper work to do. With some issues I had to dig deeper to change unconscious, emotional and psychological patterns. I had to learn to become present enough to be aware of them as they occur.
The more aware we become, the faster we can move from upset to happy.
Generally speaking, I felt uncomfortable in the negative emotions and wanted to move away from them as fast as possible. My addictive behaviours masked the pain until the depression set in and the mood felt impossible to shift. Perhaps there is a message in the depression? Is there a secret that needs to be released? Is it time to take rest from the race of life? Did I need to stop worrying about everyone else and start taking care of myself? What is my perception of the world? Did I feel supported by a higher being?
There’s not a ‘one size fits all’ approach. But I realized that depression, anger and negative emotions are NOT something to hide because they feel like failure. This range of emotions is part of the human experience. They need expressing, acknowledging and releasing. I used several methods. I punched my pillow in the privacy in my own room. I balled my eyes out to a therapist and wrote it all out in my journal. I found ways of not running or pretending everything was fine, but being and feeling it all. I came to understand that the feelings did not define me, that they would pass through me.
We are not robots of positivity.
The most important thing is to be authentic to ourselves and to those around us.
The very real danger of not expressing all of our feelings is that they can build up toxicity in the body and make us physically ill. I feel like unprocessed grief is one of the things that caused my Mother’s breast cancer. The relationship between the emotional and physical body is an area that fascinates me. ‘You Can Heal Your Life’ is a great book. The glossary in the back shows how physical ailments can be related to the emotional. I recommend everyone have this on their bookshelf.
Most people prefer to spend time with sunny, smiley Tara.
I have learned that I need to choose wisely who I express my negative emotions to. Some people do not have the capacity to facilitate negative emotions. In my earlier years, I would support friends through difficult times. When I finally plucked up the courage to reveal my own sadness to them, they did not like the melancholic Tara. I could feel them retreat from me.
The last thing you want to hear when you are feeling low is a discount of your feelings or someone telling you not to feel the way that you feel. Because you need to feel to heal. So find someone that listens, rather than wants to resolve. Remember, it is not natural for everyone to have an empathic supportive quality and this is not something you should judge your friends for. Just choose carefully who you reveal the most delicate parts of your heart to.
We need to feel to heal.