Let go, and let it flow.
Recently I was having a conversation with a girlfriend about suppressing emotions and having brought the topic up she revealed that the last time we had seen each other in person she had actually been really upset. She explained that right before she saw me she had had a disagreement with her significant other that left her feeling really emotional and on the verge of tears. As someone who is pretty intuitive this came as a bit of a surprise as I remember her looking so composed and happy that day. I was grateful that she opened up to me as it was a reminder of how easy it can be to suppress our emotions and to quiet how we are really feeling internally.
We’re all guilty of this. I for one know I am. There have definitely been times in my life when it seemed “inappropriate” to let myself release whatever it is I was feeling. The trouble lies in fooling ourselves that when we choose to refuse to deal with emotions while we are experiencing them, they will inevitably show up later whether we like or not.
Going through traumatic experiences that you have no control over that force you to face your emotions such as death, loss and severe disappointment can sometimes actually make you disconnect from your emotions even more as the pain is too much to bare and let’s be honest who really enjoys feeling sad, upset, down and/ or angry? Especially when we live in a day and age where everyone is constantly portraying their lives as being “picture perfect.”
The irony is that we are all human, and we all know it’s natural to experience a wide range of emotions. Remember when you were in grade school falling down and being able to openly and freely cry afterwards and give in to your automatic feeling? The liberation to really feel what you were experiencing and giving permission to yourself to just let it out felt so good to release, and then you were most likely happy again.
As adults, many times we carry a weight on our shoulders that we are or need to be strong and to not allow ourselves the same compassion we give to others. As someone who is a rock for others in my life, I can admit that there are times when I have felt a pressure, not from others but purely from myself to suck it up, put on a tough face, and to “stay strong and carry on.” While I am all for pushing oneself through hardships, the disclaimer on this notion should be that it’s okay to break down before you break through.
Now, I am not saying it is acceptable to be an emotional drama Queen or King. On the contrary, individuals who allow themselves to deal with their emotions as they come up and give in to experiencing them (the whole range of them) are some of the happiest people I know.
Here are three tips on how to release emotions so that you can feel lighter, brighter and more aligned.
1. Step outside.
I can’t tell you the number of times I have been feeling upset about something and have turned to good old Mother Nature to help me through the process of dealing with my feelings. I am usually drawn to water or a forest setting when I really need to dive deep into the well of emotion going on inside of me. There’s just something so soothing about watching the water’s tide flow in and out or being surrounded by the esoteric beauty of stillness and silence that a forest setting provides. Just being in that place, most often alone and away from the world allows me a safe space to surrender to what is going on inside. It is truly therapeutic. I am grateful to be able to easily do this where I live but for those occasions when it would be difficult to get away when time, distance or practicality are factors, sometimes just stepping away whether outside or away from where you are for even five minutes to have some alone time to reflect and breathe through whatever it is you are feeling can have significantly positive effects. Most people who I know have at least one place they can go to that makes them feel completely comfortable, joyful, peaceful and at ease. Learn where your happy place is and visit it frequently.
There’s a reason why they call it a “runner’s high” or refer to it as “dancing your heart out.” Physical activity literally helps to release “happy drugs” in our brain otherwise known as endorphins. I love running and moving through a yoga sequence of poses as two ways of releasing. Whether it is dancing, jogging, kickboxing, lifting weights or some other form of movement, find an activity that forces you to move your body and shed some of that stagnant energy that you are holding on to. I always feel better after a cardio session. The name of this blog post came to be after a trail run on a desert hike last year. I hadn’t even realized I had been holding on to some emotions and was pushing myself through a difficult climb. When I made it to the top I felt a rush of emotions surging through me and tears followed. I was surprised, but let them flow. They didn’t last long and by not allowing myself to give in, the effect would have lasted far longer I’m sure. It was in that moment that I realized I had been trying to be a “rock” for everyone around me and in doing so had not allowed myself the same understanding. Hence, even rocks cry.
3. Communication Is Key
This is an important element both with yourself and with others. While you are responsible for the emotions you are feeling, it can be difficult to allow yourself to give in to what you are feeling if you feel self conscious with those around you or pressured to always “keep it together” for the sake of others. It is important to remind yourself in these times that you are only human, to give yourself the same compassion that you would give to a friend or loved one who was upset and to just be honest about being real. Perhaps this can mean opening up an internal dialogue that has been dormant for some time and it may not be comfortable but I promise you the sooner you are transparent with yourself, the closer you will be to feeling better or at the very least to having a better understanding of yourself. The same goes for those of you who feel the need to be the “strong one” amidst your tribe. I guarantee (with a few exceptions) that those around you can handle things without you. Unless you are around someone 24/7 and they are directly relying on you and even in those circumstances you should be able to let out your emotions. Most people, especially those who love you will understand if you need to take some time for yourself. By communicating your need for space you can step away and return as a better partner, sibling, child, parent, employee, leader or other role that you have.
When we honor how we are feeling inside we can truly feel our best. We all have the duality of lightness and darkness within and it is only when we acknowledge our inner shadows and deal with them from an honest, loving and compassionate place that we can shine our brightest.