A recent coaching conversation I had with a client, who tragically lost her son roughly 4 months ago, sparked this very important topic. They have resisted their emotions every single day for the past 4 plus months. Feeling the full joy of life or the full pain of bereavement has not been permissible by them during this time of grief.
Sure, I could have coached them based on the grieving process, except I am not a big fan of having a model for every facet of life. We all think our own unique thoughts, have our own unique rules and beliefs, there aren’t 2 of the exact same human beings anywhere on this earth.
Now, I cannot say I know what it feels like to lose a child nor do I want to imagine such a horrific tragedy, what I can say is that I know what it feels like to experience emotional detachment and numbness. I also know what it feels like to overcome it.
The story of how we become emotionally detached and numb is arbitrary, the reason remains the same.
What happens when you don’t give yourself permission to feel emotions fully?
When you do not give yourself permission to feel antagonistic emotions you wound up caught somewhere in the middle. Using pain and happiness as an example, you will not feel the full force of either emotion.
Based on the law of polarities, by not giving yourself permission to feel emotional pain to the fullest extent you have also taken away your permission to feel joy to the fullest extent. Without experiencing 100% of one emotion you have no reference to feeling 100% of its’ polar opposite emotion.
You cannot understand or feel any emotion completely without understanding or feeling its’ polar opposite.
You wouldn’t understand or feel:
Presence without absence
Happiness without sadness
Excitement without boredom
Contentment without frustration
Life without death
These are just a few examples, every feeling has its opposite.
In essence, by not giving yourself permission to feel fully you are detaching yourself from your emotions and drawing yourself toward emotional numbness.
Resisting and escaping only makes it worse
I think from a young age most of us are taught that we have good emotions and we have bad emotions. The truth is, that is just a belief. The only thing we know for sure is that we feel emotions, period. Whether they are good or bad is entirely subjective, and in my opinion, judging our emotions is detrimental to experiencing the full beauty that life has to offer.
By labelling certain emotions as good and certain ones as bad we naturally try to manipulate universal laws by doing everything we can to feel “good” and everything we can to avoid feeling “bad”. All of our emotions are innate and we have all been given the gift to experience every single one of them as we are meant to.
When you try to manipulate the universal law of emotions you will lose every single time.
This is why when you try to escape or avoid feeling a certain emotion it will keep following you until you fully experience that emotion to the fullest extent that you are meant to. Many people describe this as the black cloud that follows them everywhere.
What are you afraid of?
I used to be terrified of my emotions and I didn’t even know why. This made absolutely no sense to me because when I did allow myself to fully experience any emotion, my life had so much more meaning.
If you are resisting or escaping your emotions then fear is ultimately guiding you. A good portion of society these days sees strength as being able to plow forward while detaching and numbing yourself from certain emotions. I assure you, this is not strength, this is cowardly.
True strength is having the courage to be vulnerable and fully experience whatever life throws at you.
You are not afraid of the emotion itself, you are afraid of what you think will happen if you fully experience the emotion.
For most people, fully experiencing and showing pain is a sign of weakness in the eyes of others and yourself.
In the example of bereavement, fully experiencing and showing joy at any time may not be permissible due to societal conditioning saying that you “should” not feel joy while mourning. Or, maybe you don’t feel deserving to feel joy and therefore you reject permission to feel it. Or, maybe feeling joy means you are forgetting or disrespecting them.
In the end, you have created a story as to what it means if you fully feel and express the rejected emotion. Reject the story you created about your emotions, not the emotion itself.
Once you see the story for what it is, which is a story that you made up and you can choose whether to believe your story or not, you can move on to what you need to do next.
The one thing you need to do – Give yourself permission
You are the only person holding you back from feeling any emotion. Regardless of the circumstance, you deserve your own love through allowing. Allowing yourself to feel the opposite of how you think you “should” or “shouldn’t” be feeling at any given time.
Let permission through love guide you, not rejection through fear. You have nothing to fear but your own story.
Learn from all of your experiences, opportunities are everywhere.