I walk into the psychiatrist’s office and sit down on his leather couch. He’s sitting across from me in a recliner. He smiles as I take off my jacket and set my purse down.
“Nice to meet you,” he says. “What brings you here today?”
“Well, I’ve been feeling anxious lately for no reason. Everything is going fine, other than these feelings I’m having.
I’m doing well in school. I have a partner, a nice apartment, and supportive parents. I’m just feeling nervous all the time and I don’t know why. I should be happy. Everything in my life is great.”
The doctor asks me some more questions about my daily life and then diagnoses me with depression and generalized anxiety that accompanies it.
I’m shocked by this diagnosis because I don’t feel depressed at all. But I accept it and take the medication he recommends to remedy the anxiety and get myself back to the business of life. Problem solved.
This scene sounds perfectly normal, right? A person goes to the doctor because they’re having negative emotions that are getting in the way of living a productive life. Feelings like anxiety are diseases that need to be dealt with and eliminated, aren’t they?
But this scene is disturbing. Because I did have a reason to be anxious.
Those feelings didn’t come out of nowhere.
They were there because I was unhappy with my career choice. I didn’t want to be doing what I was doing everyday.
They were there because something was wrong with my life and my emotions were trying to get my attention. They were there because I wasn’t listening to myself and hadn’t been for a long time. The anxiety was a result of neglecting my emotions for many years.
But I was completely unconscious of this at the time. I couldn’t admit to myself that I was unhappy.
I judged myself as bad for feeling anxiety and believed it was a personal weakness. The doctor confirmed this with his diagnosis of depression – there was something wrong with me and I needed to fix it.
Because why shouldn’t I be happy when I had everything society tells us creates happiness and meaning in life? I had a good career path and was doing well in school. I had a nice apartment, friends, and a loving partner. I had no reason to be unhappy, right?
Judging our Emotions
One of my passions is teaching others how to accept and embrace ALL their emotions.
Why do I teach this and why is it my passion?
One of the reasons is the story I just shared. My emotions were some of my biggest challenges in life. Not the emotions themselves, but my judgment of them.
I judged myself harshly because I felt things like anxiety, sadness, and fear. My judgment of my emotions made my life so much harder than it had to be. I talk more about this in my article The Fear of Feeling.
But what was even more damaging was that in judging and rejecting my emotions, I shut out and rejected entire parts of myself. I lost my internal guidance system for what was right and wrong for me in my life.
And thats what this article’s really about.
I call the art of getting in touch with your soul, or true self, self-communication.
Our souls or our true selves first speak to us through feelings and intuition. We can usually pick up on these feelings very easily as a child.
Feelings are different from emotions, but as we grow older and are socialized, we stop listening to these feelings. We’re taught not to.
We’re told that what feels good for us, isn’t really good for us. Running around in the dirt and getting your clothes dirty may feel great to you as a kid, but your mother may tell you it’s bad because a good boy keeps his clothes clean.
We’re told that what feels bad to us, is in fact, what we’re supposed to do. We might hate going to church, but our father tells us it’s good for us to go. We’re told that going to church is the right thing to do.
We’re taught that our parents and teachers know what’s best for us, even if it goes against our natural intuition and feelings about what feels right for us personally. Going to college may not feel right for us to do, but our teachers and parents tell us it’s the only way to be successful in life.
So, we stop listening to ourselves and these feelings.
Then our souls try to get in touch with us through our emotions.
If we continually do something that isn’t in alignment with who we are or what we really want, our true selves will speak to us though emotions. We’ll feel sad, anxious, or angry when we force ourselves to do something that isn’t right for us.
But even communicating to us through our emotions is challenging for our souls because of the way we’ve been socialized.
Many of us as children were taught that it was bad to cry, that it was bad to be scared. We were considered good and loved if we ignored our emotions, shut them down, and put on a happy face for the world.
Many of us were taught that good children were seen but not heard or our parents may have only given us love and attention when we were happy.
Either way, we learned that some emotions are bad and we shouldn’t have them.
This means we’re taught to label parts of ourselves as wrong. We believe that we shouldn’t have negative emotions and so, we judge those parts of ourselves that do feel sad, scared, or angry.
We ignore them and the messages they bring us.
When we do this, we create a disconnect or a fracture within ourselves. We judge parts of ourselves as bad, simply because we feel a full range of human emotions. That part of ourselves that feels rejected by us splits off and becomes an unconscious wound.
Now it becomes that much harder to realize what truly feels right for us and create an authentic life for ourselves.
In labeling certain emotions as bad, we as society have lost our signposts and guidance for what’s right and wrong for us as individuals. We’ve become so disconnected from ourselves that so many of us don’t even know what we really like or don’t like anymore.
We have numbed ourselves from our authentic truth.
Eventually, since we’ve been taught to ignore our “bad” or “unacceptable” emotions like anger and sadness, our souls will take the last resort and try to speak to us though our bodies.
This is when we begin to manifest illnesses, accidents, or challenging circumstances in our lives. Our souls are always trying to bring us back to ourselves through circumstances like these.
But please don’t take this to mean that if you’re sick or have experienced a trauma, it’s your fault for not listening to yourself. That’s not the case at all. You did NOT do anything wrong.
As the grand creator you are, you created an illness or an accident to bring you back into alignment with yourself.
Things like these are always meant to get us back in touch with what we truly want underneath what we’ve been taught to want. Accidents, illnesses, or deep losses are things we can’t ignore anymore.
I go into more depth about self-communication in my article, The Bravery of Feeling.
This is one of the reasons I feel so passionate about embracing our emotions and letting go of judging them: they are trying to tell us something!
When we label any of our emotions as bad or wrong, we miss the very important guidance they bring us.
Does it make you feel sad to go to your job? It’s because it’s not right for you. Does it make you angry to hang around a certain person? It’s because they’re not right for us. Our emotions are there for a reason.
Now, there’s an exception to this, and it’s fear.
Fear is a very special emotion that can be a sign that we’re going in the right direction of our desires. Fear is always present when we go beyond our comfort zone of what we’ve previously deemed as safe and secure. So when I feel fear, mixed with joy and excitement, I know I’m on the right track.
So let’s get real here: There is nothing wrong with having emotions. Nothing at all. Even the “negative” ones.
It’s normal and natural for you as a human to experience ALL range of emotions. There is nothing wrong with you if you feel sad, scared, or ashamed.
I know this goes against everything that psychology, psychiatry, and even many spiritual circles teach these days. If you are anything other than completely happy all the time, they have many little pills and affirmations to offer you that will cure you of your emotions in no time.
But we don’t need a cure. We need our emotions. Emotions are our signposts for what’s right and wrong for us.
As a disclaimer, I’m not completely against medication or getting treatment for challenging emotions. There’s a time and place for them. I myself have needed medications and support at different times throughout my life. I talk about that in many of my articles.
But there’s a vast number of us out there who don’t need medication. What we really need is to get honest with ourselves and make some necessary changes in our lives, no matter how hard they may be to make or how scary they may feel to make them.
Here’s the main reason why I’m so passionate about this:
I believe one of the most damaging things we can do to ourselves is reject and label parts of ourselves as wrong, especially our emotions.
If we want to learn self-communication and get in touch with our true selves to find our what we really want to create in our lives, we have to stop judging our emotions as bad and begin to embrace them.
If we want to experience real self love, we have to give ourselves permission as humans to feel ALL of our feelings and emotions, not just the positive ones.
We can start learning self-communication by seeing emotions for what they are – an internal GPS that we can use to guide us back to ourselves, back to who we really are and what we really want in life.
Embracing your emotions is the best way to start connecting with yourself and begin experiencing true self love.
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