The Value of Real and Raw Emotions
BY MARTINA HUGHES
Let’s not photo-shop our feelings and plaster a smiley face emoji on everything.
Recently I wrote about the heartbreak of having a miscarriage. Not because the pain is current for me, but because I was closing off that chapter of my life. In writing about it, I took myself back there as I knew there would be tremendous value in expressing the depth and range of feelings involved.
Why do I express the depth of pain?
Because, when I read a blog or a book and that person has reached into their core, to share with a true depth of feeling, I am transformed by the experience. It sometimes even feels as though I have journeyed with them. Of course, I can’t personally know the fullness of their experience. But the sharing of their experience adds to my emotional range and the filters and perspectives through which I see the world.
I am aware that when I write or speak about a taboo topic with my depth of raw emotions expressed, it gives others an insight into my world. It creates permission for others to go there, for others to feel. Permission for those who may have felt afraid to speak of their journey can say “yes me too” or “I know that feeling”.
One of the most valuable things for me is understanding how I process emotions and feelings, learning more of my inner range, and learning how to live with this range and depth available every day.
I love the wisdom offered by Brene Brown of rumbling with our pain to find our gold. I know the value of being discerning and not sharing every itty bitty detail when I am in the midst of a massive purge. I allow myself to dive deep and alchemise the situation to evolve my embodied wisdom.
I heard Brene speak live in Melbourne and she included an anecdote of a fight between her and her husband, which often people do, but choose to present the photo-shopped, watered down version. Brene told the story in such a way that I felt myself cringing at her cringe moments, I felt myself frustrated on her behalf and I felt relief flood through my body as she shared how they talked it through and came to resolution and mutual understanding. The gold being that her and her husband were having completely different reactions to the same scenario due to what each was processing internally.
I recently journeyed some difficult conversations with my partner and not so long after found ourselves laughing about how one day those difficulties and clunky conversations will be part of the wisdom we offer in working with couples. But not just yet. By deciding not yet, and giving space for ourselves to settle into the learnings that came out of those difficulties, we are exercising discernment. When we agree that it’s time to share, I want to take a leaf out of Brene’s book, and share the full story, including the not-so shiny moments.
I feel bored when I read memoirs and people have glossed over their struggles, all shiny and solution oriented, suggesting that they have found THE WAY. I am unimpressed by the filtered and photo-shopped version of anyone’s life.
There is no one way to do life and I am not suggesting everyone shares ALL the details. I understand some people are more private than others and that’s okay. We all have our own unique experiences which are to be celebrated and acknowledged as our gifts and our challenges. This is where a lot of personal development comes undone by suggesting that there’s one way to do anything.
The more I allow myself to feel and experience a range of emotions, and a variety of ways to process them, the greater my capacity for life in all its exquisite flavours. This is the reason why I am inspired to take people on feeling journeys. These journeys create permission for feelings and their full expression. It builds connection in a lasting and impactful way. People’s hearts and bodies open and feel safe to be when there is validation of feelings.
I loved and was hugely inspired by Glennon Doyle Meltons book, Love Warrior, as she wrote about critical times in her life where she was literally on the floor falling apart. I have now had my own share of those moments, mine very different to Glennon’s. I felt compelled by her story as it provided me with insight into other scenarios which take people to that, on the floor, falling apart place. Reading Glennon’s book, I loved how honestly and vulnerably she spoke of her old behaviours and patterns, of what she had moved through, and felt I could relate to her experiences, for me this created a deeper connection with her, her book, and her story.
Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Option B, was also a life-changing read for me. I was crying, really crying, in the first five pages. She wrote so beautifully about her love for her husband and his untimely death. It broke my heart to read. I loved how she shared the beauty of their love and romance, I felt the tragedy of his death as I read.
I also loved how honestly Sheryl talks about moving on with her life, both the graceful and unexpected moments and the gritty challenging ones. And she packed heaps of wisdom into that book for dealing with adversity through grief and illness.
In the last week I have received unsolicited advice about heavy metal toxicity and how I should look into cleansing because I wrote about past emotional pain. Apparently heavy metals cause strong emotions. Whilst that may be true, I don’t have a problem with expressing strong emotions. That’s part of who I am.
When this happened I felt a judgment or admonishment of the pain I wrote about. Nothing qualifies anyone else to say whether my emotional expression is right or wrong. I have been admonished by loved ones at times and told to “get on with it”. My feelings are mine to express. I have wondered what is going on for the other person that my feelings create such discomfort.
A lot of new age beliefs suggest not go talk about your pain as you create more pain. Does that mean we stop talking about death and illness? What about those people who are struggling daily with those topics? Do we pretend they don’t exist?
I say no, we face our pain, we own it, we love it. In feeling, expressing and learning to be with our pain, we become more whole human beings. There is our fullness and the pathway to our joy.
So, these are the people who inspire me- Brene, Sheryl and Glennon – because they have the courage to rumble with their pain, to hit rock bottom, to rumble some more and to find the alchemy – to make gold out of lead. Their wisdom touches and transforms me because it is unfiltered, real and raw.