Learning to be Emotional

Something I’ve been realizing recently is how emotionally stunted the society I live in is, and consequently how emotionally stunted I am.  Since I was young, I have been implicitly taught that unpleasant feelings are bad and unnatural, and I should pretend they do not exist.  Something horrible happened?  Buck up and deal with it.  Don’t be a baby, be an adult.  Grow up.  Get a thicker skin.  Pretend you’re happy and you will convince yourself that you are.

People, including myself,  are so uncomfortable with pain in others we try to slide by dealing with it rather than learning how to empathize with those who are hurting.  This is a far cry from “[r]ejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15).

The result of squashing our emotions is not, in fact, healthier, happier people.  Really, the consequence is a bunch of half-people walking around, people who only know half of themselves.

A while ago, I wrote this post about my realization that we cannot separate our heads from our hearts or vice-versa, because that is the surest way to make sure someone is dead (literally and metaphorically).  I’ve been thinking about how the truth of that idea still stands.  How have we so willingly sacrificed the link between our heart and mind?  Either extreme we can go to is extremely unhealthy.  If I wallow in my emotions and hold on to pain and suffering, then I am depressed, and self-indulgently so.  If I form a fortress in my mind to protect myself from any unpleasant thing, then I am a robot, and self-indulgently so.

I realized a few days ago that I never let myself mourn leaving a place that had been my home for years, or leaving the people there who had been more than family to me.  I was wondering why it was so hard to connect with the people where I am now.  Is it really any wonder?  I had thought I had let go of the first place and people, that I was okay and moving ahead to the next thing with purpose and my whole heart.  In actuality, I still need to mourn the leaving, because most of the time letting go is not a smooth, easy process, it is difficult, messy, and painful.  We should not skip by on mourning, though neither should we stop there for our whole lives.

So this is where I am right now, learning to be emotional, learning to be connected to my heart once again.

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