Growing up I was taught that part of being a man was having control over my emotions. I didn't want to be seen as someone who was "emotional," but rather as someone who was rational and logical. If I did show my emotions too much it would be considered weak and irresponsible. I would be judged by others and not given a fair chance at certain opportunities in life. I was taught to suppress instead of express.
Unfortunately, this belief system is very much present in most men in our society. I believe that women generally are more attuned to their emotions because they don't face as much negative stigma when it comes to expressing themselves. However, as there has been more push for gender equality in our society over the past few decades, I believe that women have even begun to take on this same belief as their own, out of fear that being viewed as someone who is "emotional" may limit their opportunities to succeed.
The unfortunate reality is that we live in a society that does not value creative feelers nearly as much as the logical thinkers, and thus we are in some way forced to decide whether we want to face the judgment and ridicule that comes with expressing ourselves and feeling our emotions.
I believe that our society has it all wrong!
It is our misconception and misunderstanding of what emotions truly are that create the majority of the distress and dis-ease that we experience. So what are emotions anyway? Emotions in their natural state are energy in motion. In essence, they are the free flow of energy that is triggered by our response to what's going on around us. I believe that everything in this world is made up of energy, even humans. So when our vibrating frequency comes in contact with the forces around us, there's a reaction. I'm sure you have experienced this, even if you weren't aware of what was happening. Have you ever noticed that when a really happy individual walks into a room, the whole space seems to light up? But when an angry or stressed-out person enters the same room, it's as if the light has been extinguished? That's energy!
If emotions are energy in motion, then every time we try to control this force by holding them back, we stop their natural flow and end up throwing ourselves out of balance. Every emotion has a path of movement, and in its natural form it will flow in and through our bodies with relative ease and often rather quickly. A great example of this is to observe a child. Because they have not yet been conditioned to judge or stop what they're feeling, babies and young children will go from hysterical tears to giddy glee in a matter of seconds. With no resistance, the energy flows and the emotions are expressed and let go.
What impedes the flow is when our minds become active during this process. Because many of us are taught that expressing ourselves is bad, weak or irresponsible, we begin to judge, analyze and even try to understand what we are feeling instead of just feeling it. If we don't have our emotions under control, we're viewed as social outcasts. If we cry in public, it's considered embarrassing. Even someone laughing really loudly oftentimes attracts a lot of unwanted attention.
At a young age I was taught that if I didn't keep control over my emotions that they would explode and cause pain to myself and others. The ironic thing is that over the past few years I have discovered that the process of controlling and suppressing my emotions is what ultimately caused all of the pain! It was the suppression of my emotions that led to the explosion. Because emotions are energy in motion, when we try to control or suppress them, they only get stronger. It is like we are taking our emotions and locking them away in a trunk. Every time we feel another emotion that we don't want to feel, we put it in the trunk. Inside this trunk are all of our unwanted emotions bouncing off the walls and each other. The longer they are resisted, the stronger they persist. Eventually the trunk bursts open and out comes our suppressed emotions, often in a violent and explosive way.
If however, we decided to throw away the trunk and express our emotions, without judgment or analysis, when they first surfaced, they would flow through us a lot easier and faster -- like they do in a child. We would avoid the violent explosions and the physical maladies that the suppressed emotions created in our bodies. Life certainly would become a lot easier!
I was lucky enough to realize at a young age that expressing my emotions instead of suppressing them was the key to living a happy and healthy life. I now believe that being an emotionally-aware and intelligent person is no longer a weakness but one of my greatest strengths and assets.
Take Action Challenge:
When was the last time you stifled the urge to cry, pushed your feelings back down inside and forced yourself to move on with your day? When the last time that you got so angry your head began to hurt and your stomach tensed up, yet you didn't allow yourself to express this anger or release it? When was the last time you walked into a party and felt so excited that you wanted to squeal and dance around, but you controlled yourself for fear of looking foolish or out of control?
It is time to liberate yourself from the shackles of suppression and let yourself feel and express your emotions in each and every moment! Every day for the next week, when you feel the urge to cry, let yourself cry and let it out. When you feel a surge of joy and happiness, let yourself squeal and dance around or express it in whatever way brings you the most bliss. When you feel angry or upset, find a pillow and hit it as hard as you can, or lock yourself in your car and scream at the top of your lungs. Let yourself express and release the anger so it no longer builds up!
Part of this blog is an excerpt from Michael's new book Empowered YOUth: A Father and Son's Journey to Conscious Living (Hay House, Oct. 1, 2012).
For more by Michael Eisen, click here.
For more on emotional wellness, click here.