It feels terrible to hide our emotions… so why do we keep doing it?
I see women rushing for perfection and flawlessness all the time, but especially during the holidays and important moments, as they stress to get it all right. What is that all about? Why do we feel a need to be perfect? It's so exhausting, and I say it's time to enjoy life while openly embracing the jolliness of being less than perfect. See, as women, we have been conditioned to be brave and told we can't show vulnerability or weakness. Maybe it's finally time to let the world see us sweat, because hiding our feelings in case they offend someone is hardly satisfying.
We're told that crying (and especially crying in public) is weak or wrong. But it's not! It is real. Instead of swallowing pain or succumbing to societal pressure, how about letting it show? This is my call to action to be OK with sharing that things are sometimes out of whack, and that it's a normal part of life. Swallowing emotion creates disease, and as such, I believe much of our problems stem from not being emotional enough.
Why are we afraid of emotion? Will shedding tears make us weak? I don't think so. It is healthy to have emotions—and to show them. The Yogis have it right: feel the emotion, identify it and let it wash through you and out. Here's the benefit of this process: the sooner you feel it (I mean really feel it) the sooner you can release that feeling. The trouble starts when you keep it inside, because then the emotion becomes about other people instead of yourself. The pressure you believe society puts on you to stay silent creates a victim mentality. What happens then? You wind up doing things you don't want to do and wounding yourself, perhaps for life—all because that is what is expected.
Does anyone really benefit from your silence? Are your relationships made better when you swallow those emotional razor blades? How can you think clearly when in pain? Or make wise decisions? I see clients in such pain and denial, daily. And why? Because they want so badly to do the "right thing" by everyone else, that they forget who they are; there is so much fear around being real.
Even though we know that hiding messy emotions makes us feel badly, we've been bred to believe that it's the unselfish, rewarding thing to do. We have been fed this diet for what feels like forever. How familiar is this story: A woman takes a backseat, taking care only of those she loves. She pushes her anger and frustration aside, continuing to smile, nod and say yes. Inside? She is burning, or completely stuffed up, terrified that someone is going to call her weak.
When you see someone cry, what is your first instinct? It's most likely to stop it as soon as possible: There, there; it will be OK. Don't cry. I believe that deep down, we want to stop the crier, because if cant fix their pain we might start crying ourselves. Not cool, right? And this starts young! I'm upset to hear parents frequently tell their children, "Stop crying... or I will give you something to cry about." You know what I want? For every child who has been shut up, teased or bullied, and every parent who has shed secret tears for their ostracized child to come together for a mass public cry. This exercise would make us all just a little bit stronger. And if we women want to be strong, it is time to show the world that intimidation and bullying will no longer quiet our right to show pain, sadness, fear or any other messy emotion.
We have a beautiful opportunity here to express forgiveness and connection. Maybe, if in addition to the families expressing sadness, all the women who have been abused in their lives stood up and cried it out. It would be so healing to just hear each other cry and comfort one another, without feeling pressure to "fix" our problems or ourselves.
Tears can heal every one of us, if we just have the heart (and the stomach!) to show our emotions. Will you stand with me to shed your tears? Let's join hands and open our hearts; be vessels of compassion for our fellowkind as we free ourselves from old fears and conditioning. Let's cry and cry out for freedom, from being the pressure of being a "good girl", and a silent witness to the slur of meeting perfection.
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