Recently, little 4 year old Annie had some great advice for her Great Aunt. She told her not to worry about her bad days. Annie said, “I have bad days too. You know what I do? I sit down and I cry it out. Then I get up, dust myself off and keep going!” What tremendous wisdom and forethought for a 4 year old!
When we, as adults, consider this advice, we tend to forget the “cry it out” part. Many of us have been taught through our life not to show our emotion, that allowing our emotions to be seen is a no-no. We learn at an early age that showing those emotions by crying, yelling, or feeling them in any way is bad. A little boy falls and a parent’s first comments are usually, “don’t cry, you are okay,” or “boys don’t cry” or “be strong.” Some of us had an older sibling make fun of us when we show our emotions, or friends who think we are cry-babies. As we move through life we have learned that showing those emotions is bad. Then we start to learn that even having those emotions are bad, we need to always be strong.
These emotions are what make us human beings and by ignoring them or trying to stop them we don’t deal with them. So we stuff them down, some through alcohol and drug use, some use food, some let those emotions fester inside their bodies where it creates illnesses, some go through life lying to themselves and judging others. We may work too hard, party too hard, run too hard, take too many chances in extreme sports, etc. All ways to ignore how we feel and what we feel, and why we feel it.
This little girl learned at a tender age that crying it out allows her to process in her own way and get all of those feelings out of her body so she can move on. Last year, in the days immediately following the death of my dad, I was filled with anger. I was angry at the Universe and God, I was angry at the hospital, I was angry at the doctors, I was probably a bit angry at my dad and at myself. I was working hard at not letting that anger come up, I didn’t think I was supposed to. I shared with someone that I felt as if I was boiling just under my skin and that one thing could absolutely set me off. I was working so hard at squelching what I felt. She encouraged me to not do what I had always done and bury how I felt, eat my way through my pain, but to get it out. I was afraid to do that, I thought 1) I may never stop and 2) I have to stay strong for the family. I realized that she was right, if I didn’t’ get this anger out I would explode. I would either hurt someone with my words or hurt myself by doing what I had always done; eat and drink my way through my pain; isolate myself so nobody saw what I was doing. So I decided I needed to follow that advice and get it out constructively. I practiced a meditation called “rage on a page,” and wrote all of my feelings down, through tears and through yelling at nobody, I began to feel better. Instead of eating and drinking my way through the pain, I began to dust myself off and move forward, slowly, but forward.
We come into this world very pure, filled with love, and able to feel every emotion. We get conditioned early to not allow those emotions to be seen. Our conditioning that we should not feel or should not allow ourselves to feel because that makes us weak needs to change. Our conditioning that tears are a sign of weakness needs to change. Our conditioning that others should not ever see our emotions needs to change. Our societal conditioning that we need to be strong all of the time and that strength is only seen by not showing emotions, being stoic, needs to change.
We are emotional beings, that is what sets us apart. We feel deeply and express our feelings. Expressing then constructively and understanding them allows us to move forward with new awareness, with new learnings about ourselves or others. Once we feel, we can heal. When we ignore how we feel, when we bury it deeply, we can begin to resent others, those who perhaps triggered that feeling. All of that sits in our bodies and can manifest into health issues, addiction issues, and most of all, not really loving and enjoying life. We go through the motions of life, but we don’t really live life. And we may not feel the peace of the present moment when we have emotions stuffed down and ignored.
Next time you have a bad day or bad experience, take this little 4 year olds advice. Cry it out, really let yourself feel what you feel. Then, dust yourself off with that new awareness, listen to your inner wisdom about what to do differently and move forward!