“Recently, I experienced a flood of emotions that I wasn’t expecting to deal with, which led to me withdrawing myself from a social event and feeling extremely low. I don’t want to dwell on the reasons why, or indeed the outcome; rather, I want to reflect on the experience and the lessons it has taught me. As somebody very helpfully said to me recently, ‘Everything that happens in life is there to bring us joy or to teach us something’, and I strongly believe this to be true.
Overtime, I’ve learned that listening to our emotions is important if we’re to safely move on from them but that learning to do this takes time and requires a level of self-awareness, confidence and acceptance.
Lesson 1: Listening to our emotions is important
Although not attending the social occasion made me feel totally rubbish, I needed to listen to my emotions that day. For whatever reason, I had to protect myself. However, it’s taken me a long time to be able to say something like that. Unfortunately, I’ve learned the hard way what ignoring my feelings and emotions can do to me. I tend to try to keep them hidden from sight, squeezed deep down, so that I can keep on doing the things that make life feel, or at least appear, ‘normal’. However, I have learned that, for me, this often means that my emotions are never processed and thus have nowhere to go. Hence, they get internalised and lead to some very painful and distressing mental experiences.
On reflection, I am beginning to realise that denying my emotions was me simply surviving. I didn’t believe I had a choice to listen to my emotions, I didn’t want to accept them and I probably felt ashamed of them. Perhaps, somewhere deep down, I believed that my emotions were a sign of weakness rather than strength as I beat myself up over them and tried to ignore them.
"Listening, and paying attention to, our emotions is important as they make us who we are. "
Lesson 2: Listening to our emotions requires a level of self-awareness
In my experience, it has taken a deep level of self-awareness in order for me to learn to listen and recognise my emotions when they occur, as at times they have felt like a jumbled mess, with more and more piled up on top of each other to the point that I could no longer decipher them. I also had to learn not to judge them. For example, take my recent experience whereby I had to withdraw myself from a seemingly pleasant experience. I had to accept that it was just what I needed. I had to accept that going, and ignoring my emotions, would have been worse for me as it could have triggered a harder set of emotions for me to deal with, after. However, knowing when to challenge myself and my emotions vs when to listen to them and take care of them, has required a deep exploration of myself.
Lesson 3: Listening to our emotions requires confidence
In my experience, listening to my emotions has required me to build up my confidence. Confidence in the fact that my emotions are valid and confidence that I know myself well enough that my choice to look after my emotions today, will be the right one for me in that particular moment, even if others may never understand.
Lesson 4: Listening to our emotions requires acceptance
It can be tricky to do, but listening to our emotions requires acceptance that, for whatever reason, if something is just too difficult for me today, then I won’t judge that or that emotion and the decision that then follows, which I admit, I do not find easy.
"I have the confidence to now know that just because I can’t face something today, it doesn’t mean I’ll be unable to face it tomorrow."
Lesson 5: Taking care of our deep wounds is important
My recent experience has made me reflect on how important it is that we look after, and take care of, our deep wounds. A little scape over a scar from time to time is probably a good thing as a reminder that it’s still there and is still something that needs to be taken care of. But, to dig deep into a scar when you’re already vulnerable, or just not in the right space to do so, can be a completely different story in my experience.
For anyone else who may be frustrated by the number of times that their emotions continue to cause them pain or distress, be comforted in the fact that there are others out there who do understand you. They also wish that things were different. But, with time and the right support, hopefully you too will begin to notice that the impact of your pain lessens and becomes less far reaching the more you let yourself understand, and pay due care to, the feelings and emotions that are in no way shameful, but are simply calling out to be noticed. ”
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