I see a lot of articles lately on teaching yourself, or your children, to reach a “lasting calm” that “never” fades. Teach your children and tell your friends, folks! You will only have one emotion until the end of time! Fabulous, correct?
There are so many articles about this that I am starting to get a little affected by them. It’s not right.
People who are always trying to achieve a “lasting calm”, even during their most stressful times, are doing themselves a disservice, I think. They come back from yoga or a meditation retreat feeling “blissful” or “enlightened”, and expect that feeling to stay. For the next while, they tamp down any feelings of rumpled feathers or irritation, probably causing themselves to bubble under with anger and causing themselves an ulcer. This is not a sustainable, balanced feeling. It can’t be. Expecting that feeling of “blissful calm” (as I’ve heard people say), is like putting ice cream out in the sun and expecting it not to melt.
I don’t believe you should ask for, or strive towards, an eternal calm feeling. We are not androids or robots. Life is messy and irrational, unpredictable and sometimes unfriendly. Life is also eternally tricky; it doesn’t ask permission to throw a curve ball – life wants you to feel. We have feelings for a reason; to warn, to indulge, to propose ideas, to spark us, to motivate us, to guide us….and I am talking about the whole gamut of feelings! Asking to be calm all the time, always reining in or tamping down our big emotions, is about the most insane thing I’ve heard. It’s like asking a cat not to meow.
Feeling is a release and a way to process tough happenings. Feeling these through and asking WHY am I feeling like this is essential. It’s a dialogue with yourself and communicating it through is the only way to work it out honestly and completely. If you refuse these feelings to meditate them away or count to five or if you keep distracting yourself from them, it only serves to have them bubble up again, and you are stunting your emotional growth.
HOWEVER- be polite about it. Just because you have decided to fully feel out your anger doesn’t mean you can stomp around work and ruin other people’s normal day by declaring your anger. That is also emotional immaturity. Sometimes, social life being what it is, you need to feel those feelings politely on the inside until you are alone. Then—go ahead!—rant! hit a pillow! write it out! dance in energetic anger! cry! be sad! Feel it out!
Any way that works for you, do it. Wallow for a bit, rage for a bit, reflect for a bit or descend in to melancholy for a bit.
When you feel that you can “keep your head above water for a bit”, reflect and ask yourself some questions. What is this feeling trying to tell me? Was it to teach me something? Was it a feeling I had denied and just needed it’s release? Maybe it spent so much time crouched deep inside you that it just needed a voice and you’ve purged it now. Keep asking the Why and the What until you feel like you know what it was that caused such a grand emotion in you. I find it helpful to journal or write poetry. If I’m really upset I just write down random words in my head.
clutter. books. run down. stress. over stimulated. bedroom. closet. paper. schedule.
Then I look at these words….have I been stressing myself out about keeping the paper clutter in the bedroom out of the closet so we have room for our clothes? Should I reorganize or let it go? Is it something that will make my schedule seem less packed? The questions can spin out from there. Try to keep them away from worrying about other tasks or obligations and keep it focused on this issue. You may come to a solution.
If nothing to learn from it (for now at least), try to release that feeling like a balloon to the sky.
Emotions are like tiny beings that need to be heard completely and cared for or released. We are only human, after all.