We’ve all been there. Bad grade on a test, poor audition, shitty date, unrequited love. We’ve been programmed as women to this short-form kind of positive psychology. Statements from well-meaning friends like, “I don’t let stuff like that bother me” or “We’ve all been there” often serve to do what modern psychology has so neatly packaged for so many of us–resistance, compartmentalization.
In early, Eastern philosophies such as Buddhism, folks didn’t believe in such asinine ideas that you should be able to just bounce back immediately from whatever messiness life had to serve up. That’s because awesome Buddhists up in the monastery were like: “Fuck that, resistance makes things grow stronger.” It’s as if the tacit message is, “get over it,” which women have been force fed most of our lives. But really, if you just feel it, it always passes. It’s like going into the red tent during menstruation versus plugging that shit up with a bleached tampon. Ladies, we need to stop plugging up our emotions with pop-psychology tampons. It’s not healthy. Go cry in the shower. You’ll feel better and no one will die. But if you stifle, suck up and attempt to put away emotions, someone might get hurt, namely you. You run the very real risk of shooting off your gun in misdirected anger or grief, shutting down into depression or worse—turning on yourself.
I have recently found that a great way to pinpoint my anger is to pause. I meditate, write, cry, or call a level-headed and compassionate friend until I can figure out what exactly it is I need to say and to whom. It may not come up and out perfectly, but I always feel better and I’m not inadvertently taking out my feelings on some innocent, grocery store clerk (or worse–myself). It gets that shit right outta my head, and its power over my thoughts, dissolves.
It takes great courage to be vulnerable, ladies–to be vulnerable enough to admit you don’t feel okay about something that someone did or said or a situation that didn’t go well at all. We’ve been trained to put on a happy face, steamroll through, trudge on –“it’s not so bad.” Well sure, maybe it isn’t and certainly I’m not here to encourage you to spend a month in the red tent feeling like a victim, but I think it’s very dangerous to start trying to compartmentalize emotions–a very Western tool that’s been drilled into us–and a sure-fire path to neurosis. Feelings of discomfort are not only normal, they’re welcome. It means we’re alive and breathing. We live in an often (cue the news) crazy world. Life is messy. Feelings aren’t black and white. So stop allowing people (who generally aren’t even remotely tuned into their own needs) to tell you to put your feelings away. Go scream into a pillow, sit at your piano and cry, call a friend, draw a messy picture–do whatever it is you need to do to nurture yourself.
You are worth it.