"I like crying. It helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life's problems."
- Sadness from the Disney movie Inside Out
With everyone being home for the holiday break we’ve had more time to cook, hang out and watch movies together. The other day I sat down to watch Inside Out with my husband. I hadn’t seen this Pixar movie in a while, but I love the characters as emotions of 11-year-old Riley, who moves across the country with her family when her dad gets a job transfer. It is this pivotal moment in Riley’s life that takes her on an emotional roller coaster as she navigates her new life in San Francisco.
Watching Joy & Sadness fight at the controls of Riley’s life made me think of how we wrestle with our own emotions. We think we should be happy, or joyful all the time. And if we’re not then something must be wrong with us. This is often compounded with societal pressures and conditioning that we should “be happy” ALL THE DAMN TIME. We are constantly striving for happiness in life. And while we certainly “feel better” when we are happy, we would not know joy or happiness without sadness. This is exactly what the characters in the movie discover by the end of the film.
After watching this movie I got to thinking about what a roller coaster of a year 2020 has been and how I’ve personally experienced EVERY. SINGLE. EMOTION. It hasn’t been easy either.
By nature, I am a happy, optimistic person. This year I felt a lot of heavy emotions that were hard to allow because not only do they go against my nature, but they are also emotions that I consider negative because of my own personal experiences. For instance, when I was a little girl my mom considered me to be dramatic and would often tell me to “Stop acting like Sarah Bernhardt!” Or, if I started to cry she would say “Stop crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about!” So, I learned from a young age that it was not safe or acceptable to express sadness or frustration. Anger is another emotion with which I have an aversion. I saw this emotion acted out in unhealthy ways as a young child, and as a result, I often decided that it is easier to “not rock the boat” rather than risk a confrontation.
"To awaken human emotion is the highest level of art." Isadora Duncan
All of our feelings are not only legitimate but necessary. So, what did YOU experience in 2020? What did you learn from your emotions? Did you feel that you had space and were “allowed” to experience your emotions? Were there feelings that were particularly difficult for you?
It helps to remember that it’s not the feelings themselves that are unhealthy, but often what we do with them. I have discovered some safe ways to allow my powerful emotions to come up so that I can experience them and let them move through me. Journaling, spending time in nature, and meditation are healthy tools for getting in touch with your feelings.
We cannot truly practice self-care without knowing what we are feeling. Our feelings are a compass, showing us what we need in any given moment. During high-stress times we can feel like we don’t even know what we need! This is a cue to pay closer attention to your feelings, remaining curious, and open. Asking.
Emotions pushed down are stored in our bodies. Let’s face it, sometimes it’s just not appropriate to deal with strong emotions at that moment. When we are in crisis mode we often shift into a warrior state to deal with a difficult situation. But pushing our feelings aside on a regular basis can create blockages and even disease. Louise Hay, a New Thought teacher, and author of You Can Heal Your Life, wrote about the power of the mind/body connection after being diagnosed with cervical cancer and subsequently healing herself using forgiveness and affirmations, as well as other natural remedies.
This is one of the reasons that meditation is one of The Four Seeds of Self-Care. Taking the time to be still is crucial to our emotional health. You can sit quietly and scan your body noticing any area that feels stuck or heavy. By being curious and giving your emotions kind attention you allow and accept them.
Ultimately, our feelings are what make us human. ALL of our feelings. It’s when we experience our emotions that we know we are ALIVE. I do not know what is in store for us in 2021, but regardless, we are sure to experience the whole gamut of emotions. It is imperative that we see, listen, and accept our own feelings and those of others as well!
As 2020 comes to a close, and you step off of this roller coaster ride, I hope you can exhale. This year is about to end. A new chapter will begin with the New Year. As you inhale, breathe in this beginning. We hope you will continue to connect with us in 2021 as we strive to support you in your self-care and growth! We are grateful for all of the opportunities, experiences, and connections with all of you!
With Love and Gratitude,
Kinda and Rachel