In an ideal world, we would understand it’s absurd to be ashamed of our emotions. In our current reality, though, shame is often the norm when you’re angry, sad, or even when you find something supposedly politically incorrect amusing.
Boys are still taught to pretend to be confident when they are afraid. Little girls, too, are told to behave in certain ways. They are meant to withhold anger and “be nice.”
By the time we grow up, many of us are confused. We imagine there’s something wrong with us when we feel like we do; we’ve been sent the message we should think and feel in specific ways, and when our experience is different, we imagine we’re faulty and must hush-up our inner reality.
The idea you ought to hide parts of your mindset is damaging. It tells you you’re unacceptable, and to be liked, you must conform and behave like everyone else. Or, at least, put on a show that makes people think you do.
Over the years, working in the field of mental health, I’ve come to recognize there’s no part of any individual out of place. Your mind and body always work toward your greatest good, even when the opposite seems true.
Inflammation, for instance, is a physical response to ward off illness rather than your enemy, though you know it can cause pain and difficulty.
Likewise, your emotions exist for good reasons. They never arise to harm you. Their intention is to put you back on track, to help you find what’s missing and make you happy and well.
“Negative emotions like loneliness, envy, and guilt have an important role to play in a happy life; they’re big, flashing signs that something needs to change.” Gretchen Rubin
Emotions, like inflammation can get out of hand when something’s wrong and needs attention. Something unexpressed previously and pent up, for instance, will explode eventually.
Inflammation, by the way, can be provoked by stress:
“If you don’t think your anxiety, depression, sadness and stress impact your physical health, think again. All of these emotions trigger chemical reactions in your body, which can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system. Learn how to cope, sweet friend.” Kris Carr
When you don’t accept yourself
While it’s vital to learn how to manage your feelings, it’s also necessary not to be ashamed of them. When you are disgusted or sad about your emotions, your psyche is wounded; you feel threatened because you don’t accept yourself.
Acceptance of all parts of you, warts and all, gives you the chance to examine your mental state and check it’s working well, as is intended.
“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” Daniel Goleman
You can’t address a problem like adult tantrums, or the experience of grief and depression, if you always pretend they don’t exist or go through phases of hiding them, imagining people will reject you if you reveal all.
Anything you fight against, whether it’s the fact you’ve dropped clean washing in the mud on the way indoors from the garden or fear that’s arisen, builds anxiety. The more you resist, the more difficult circumstances and emotions are to manage.
You’ll never be able to control how people see you, and if they don’t accept the aspects of themselves you display, well, they will object.
Their angst, however, isn’t about you; it’s about them. It’s not your job to control how others view you. Let them manage their own misconceptions in their own good time.
You, though, can take a more inclusive approach when thinking about your feelings. It’s all right to feel whatever you feel, and what’s more, it’s normal.
Besides, it’s wise to let the people you love know the real you, so they can love the genuine you too rather than someone you made-up.
“I can love who I think you are
Or you can allow yourself
To be yourself
So that I can love YOU.”
― Kate McGahan
Copyright © 2019 Bridget Webber. All rights reserved