I’m currently in the midst of several big life shifts. As a result, I’m feeling a lot of emotions in ways I’ve never before experienced. Sometimes, I’m experiencing joy, and contentment, and fear, and grief, all at once. It’s confusing, to say the least, when you go from crying to laughing and back again within the space of five minutes.
In the midst of this raw emotional cacophony, I’m learning lots. And relearning lessons I’d already learned and had then forgotten. One thing I’m currently reminding myself is this:
Emotions need space to exist. They need all kinds of space. They need physical space — separation from other people to allow for jumping for joy, or heaving tears, or bracing in fear. Space in an acupuncturist’s office, or in therapy, or on the phone with a trusted coach. They need space in the schedule — buffer time for grieving or celebration or processing them for however long they take.
Like a little kid throwing a tantrum or giggling with glee, emotions need attention. Sometimes lots of it. It helps when we allow ourselves a second, or a minute, or an hour, to just soak in a wave of celebration. That moment might become an opportunity for bonding, either with ourselves, or with our community.
It’s easy to think that the better way to live is to suck it up and soldier on through tough emotions. It’s simple to tell ourselves not to express our excitement, because it’s uncool and we shouldn’t really care about the funny things that make us happy. But this way of living, in the end, hurts.
When we don’t give emotions the space they need, we suffer. They bubble up, hot and perhaps unwelcome and maybe inappropriate for the situation. They grow heavy and suck us down into depression. They struggle to be expressed in various forms of addiction and self-harm — unintended violence toward ourselves or others.
Giving space to emotions isn’t easy. I find it a bit embarrassing to show people how excited I get to go to the library and pick up a book I’ve been waiting for. It’s really scary to admit to people that, as an introvert, I’m nervous for the big parties that others can’t wait for. It’s difficult to admit to, much less express, having ten different emotions at once instead of the one-dimensional feelings we’re “supposed to” have in certain situations, like funerals or graduations.
Emotions are complex. They’re jagged and raw and buoyant and deep and bloody and fizzy. And they need space to do their thing. It’s not easy. But it’s real.
. . .
Because I’ve been so busy making space, I haven’t done as good a job as I wanted to at letting you all know that my coaching prices are going up on May 31st. I let Self-Love Letter subscribers know last month, and that was pretty much it. Anyway, coaching prices will go up on May 31st. You can schedule with the current prices until that day, and you can schedule as far in advance as you’d like. (A note to current clients and grads: your prices are staying the same; not to worry.)