Do you sometimes find yourself with a recurring theme?
Not only when conversations seem to keep touching on the same issue, but the Sunday sermon speaks straight to that thing, and that article you read is almost identical.
For me, the current topic is that one about feelings. Emotions. Mental health.
How to allow myself to feel the full range of emotions, and deal with them healthily.
Because there is actually a whole range of them – and to be able to experience joy, we must allow ourselves not to be numb to sadness, or fear or other emotions that are less pleasant.
Trying to be ‘happy’ is like chasing butterflies. We are all aware that happiness is elusive, it lands for a second, and flits away again – so why do we spend so much time chasing it, instead of finding joy in the midst of what is often not happy?
Dr Harriet Lerner writes “Calming down is an essential first step to accurately perceiving a problem and deciding what to do about it but the last thing you need to do is shut yourself off from fear and pain – either your own or the worlds. If there is one over riding reason why our world and relationships are in such a mess, is that we try to get rid of our anxiety, fear and shame as fast as possible, regardless of the long term consequences. In doing so, we blame and shame others and in countless ways, we unwittingly act against ourselves. We confuse our fear driven thoughts with what is right, best, necessary or true.”
Shutting ourselves off from uncomfortable emotions isn’t healthy.
So when I feel a sting of fear, or a little stab of hurt or betrayal or sadness – I need to learn how to stay there for a little bit, at least until I understand why.
Otherwise my possibly unhealthy, knee-jerk reactions might hurt someone.
Or, in stuffing down all the feelings, I might numb myself to what could possibly be some good stuff.
This is not something I’m inherently good at.
I am good at staying pretty even-tempered and easy-going, but mostly because my self-talk often says don’t feel that, that’s not right. And I think maybe I’ve been taught that maturity is not feeling the feels.
But what I’m learning is that maturity is feeling it all, but knowing how and when to express those emotions, where to explore them, and learning to understand the why behind them – and allowing God to change that, the why, not to actually numb my feels.
I don’t know if this makes much sense to you, these ramblings are a little bit psychological.
But I think I’m taking baby steps towards understanding myself, the way my brain is wired, and how to be mentally healthy.