Let’s talk about the power of messy emotions.
The Power of Messy Emotions
I don’t really like to put emotions into a category of good, bad, positive, or negative emotions. They’re all simply emotions.
I like to think about e-motion as energy-in-motion.
When we don’t emote or have our emotional expression, we’re blocking energy.
Emotions like depression, anxiety, anger, frustration, and overwhelm are often considered unacceptable. They make people uncomfortable.
If we express the truth of what we’re feeling, needing, longing for, or frustrated with, people get really uncomfortable. A lot of this has to do with the culture.
We don’t have places for truth telling. We don’t have places that allow us to come together and have difficult conversations or express difficult emotions.
Even as a mom when my kids were young, coming together for play dates, playgroups, moms’ gatherings, or things like that, I was never one to love small talk. It’s just not my thing.
But to be real, to talk about day-to-day emotions was never really something acceptable in the group gatherings, and it would’ve been so refreshing to have a conversation about the ways in which we’re all wrestling with different things, and the ways in which we’re joyful about things.
How to Express Emotions
This idea of having emotions, of emoting, of moving our energy, comes up so frequently when we’re in a state of anxiety, or of being overwhelmed or angry.
The concept of perfectionism or control is a form of anxiety where you feel tension and you have to do something about it. The best thing you can think of is to try to make everything around you perfect.
But when you’re trying so hard to be perfect, you’re also holding back your emotions. You’re not allowing people to see what’s really going on behind the scenes.
In my Solace program, I teach emotional integration practices — ways of tuning into what’s really going on, allowing the emotion to wash over you and feel it. Even today, I still work with these practices.
There are so many times when I need to take care of something and think, “I just want to crash in my bed. I just want to fall apart for the moment,” and then I push through. I press on because that’s what the patriarchal dominance culture wants us to do: push through, press on, keep going, make it happen.
I’ve been continuing to practice emotional integration over the years and I’ve had really powerful moments of allowing myself to say, “Okay, if I need a moment to flop down on the bed and sob my eyes out, I’m going to do that.” Simply allowing for that has been so powerful to recognize different pieces of what’s going on with my emotions, and the ways in which I express or don’t express them.
For instance, I realized I had a lot of shoulds, a lot of thoughts saying, “Oh, I should be working. I should be stronger than this. I should be more relaxed than this. I shouldn’t be depressed.”
I had all of these judgments, and I was talking with a friend who said to me, “Is it depression, or are you just being real?” and I thought that was powerful!
“Is it depression, or are you just being real?”
There’s so much power in those simple words. Rather than labeling something as “bad,” there was an opportunity offered to reframe what the emotions might be sharing.
I felt so met and seen.
The fact is, when we hold our emotions and don’t allow ourselves to express, and then we judge ourselves for being anxious, depressed, angry, or all the shoulds or shouldn’ts that we put on ourselves, there’s nothing but realness there.
We’re human beings. We have emotions we need to express, and we need to feel what we need to feel. We need to allow ourselves to feel those expressions within us.
In doing so, the energy moves. We don’t feel blocked. We don’t get stuck in it. We’re not stuck in depression, and we’re not stuck in anxiety, if we should even call it that.
Maybe the reason we sometimes want to just fall down and sob is that we’re simply exhausted, or maybe we didn’t feel seen or heard and it really hurt.
Maybe we really are feeling angry at something and/or grieving something, and we need to allow ourselves to do that. Then, when we allow it, we move forward.
Emotional Integration Exercise
When I teach my emotional integration exercise, it’s about sitting with and being with whatever the emotion is and saying, “Okay anger, show me what you’ve got,” and letting it wash all over you and feeling it.
Obviously, you do it in a safe space. It’s likely important to be on your own where you’re not going to freak anybody out if you start screaming or whatever is needed. What’s important is the idea of being with it, allowing yourself to have some time to feel. Obviously that can’t happen in a moment when we’re in a board meeting or something like that, but maybe you can make time afterward to pause and give your emotions the attention they’re seeking.
Do what you need to do to allow those feelings to wash over you.
Allow those expressions to come to the surface so you can meet them, and you can productively journal about them or just express through tears or express through some screaming, or whatever it is that you need to do.
I encourage you to not let those emotions get stuck within you.
We need to honor the power that our emotions have, the messages they’re giving us, and the ways in which they can help us keep moving through this life and being real.
For a video version of The Power of Messy Emotions and How to Express Your Emotion, watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLtcu2uTGoA