Emotions are often like waves in the ocean (…hell, they even sound similar; emotion/ ocean). Feelings swell like cresting whitecaps, sometimes rapidly, when left unchecked.
Anger, fear, disappointment, worry, defensiveness and more can start to overtake our bodies, threatening to capsize our good mood for the rest of the day… and potentially even our relationships if the mood becomes a full-fledged emotional tsunami.
And the frustrating fact of the matter is that THE ONLY WAY OUT IS THROUGH, although your brain may have a few tricks up its sleeve to try and convince you otherwise, the two biggest ones being:
– DENIAL: Pretending like it isn’t happening doesn’t work. You can’t fool anyone else, let alone yourself by saying you’re fine when you’re clearly not. The storm is still there.
– DISTRACTION: Attempts to forget about it for a bit doesn’t work either. Food, sex, video games, busy work… they only cover it up for a bit. The storm is still there.
I realized the other morning, while in a particular moment of angst where my ego had convinced itself my family didn’t respect me because they didn’t seem to be enjoying my company and dad jokes (yes, ridiculous I know, but don’t pretend like your ego is rational either 😜), that in order to unf*% myself, I had to SIT WITH THE FEELS FIRST.
I don’t know about you, but they didn’t exactly teach me how to do that in school or on Saturday Morning Cartoons, especially as a guy. Most men I interact with would rather do just about anything than process their feels, and many women aren’t all that great at it either.
It occurred to me that it can be intimidating or even downright scary to pull back and look at giant emotion swirling in the body and I had this thought – WE WOULDN’T BE SCARED IF WE KNEW WE COULD BREATHE UNDERWATER.
Turns out when it comes to emotion, we can.
We can sink under the tempest that we’re feeling on the surface as the conscious awareness of them – it’s like a dive helmet – and then we can explore what in the hell is up with them. Why are they here? What are they trying to show us?
In my case, it was just an old wound from childhood – I was often the kid getting picked on or just laughed at and not being taken seriously. THE SEEING IS FREEING as Eckhart Tolle would say.
Once I realized that my brain had just dug up old s$% and it wasn’t really about my family at all, I was able to let go pretty quickly. (My therapist fiancé says emotions typically only last about 90 seconds unless we have another thought about them… so our thoughts are kind of like the wind swelling the emotional waves.)
So next time you feel a big emotion growing, try and hit the pause button. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that there’s nothing to worry about; after all you can breathe underwater. 😉
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ben Driskell, LMT is a massage therapist practicing in the greater Pensacola, FL area. Besides being a “muscle whisperer,” he greatly enjoys writing about issues related to healthy masculinity, mindful living and sacred intimacy. He hopes to aid men in embracing a lifestyle that is authentic to them and not what society says they should be.