The Everyday Mystic, Karl Clancy
Can we remember who we were before the world told us who we had to be?
I watched the Denmark versus England soccer match and had a thought at the end as I watched grown men revel in victory, crying with joy and hugging with abandon while their counterparts on the opposing team showed their disappointment in the same fashion; crying freely.
The thought was this: Why can men only display emotions freely in isolated moments like this?
It led me to thinking about the way we are educated in our world. We teach young boys that big boys don’t cry and to be manly is to repress showing our vulnerabilities for fear of derision and scorn. We fear being seen as weak.
When did showing emotions become synonymous with being weak? It doesn’t happen with toddlers. When one of the group playing gets hurt and cries the rest express concern and try to help. It’s at some point after this that we learn to stifle our emotions or categorise them as “positive” and “negative” when in truth emotions are neither!
Emotions are just a reaction to the world around us. They are whole, neither positive or negative, that’s just the way we’ve learned to describe how they affect us through the thoughts they generate.
They come and go in about ninety seconds in a physiological sense. The lasting effect is the thoughts we attach to them and how we then generate the emotion over and over from those thoughts, creating cycles of emotion, thought, more intense emotion, more entrenched thinking.
To change how we feel about a situation or memory requires us to teach ourselves to think differently, to see it more clearly or from another’s perspective.
I often tell the tale of being in work when a colleague comes in and is behaving in a really abrasive, angry and negative way, ruffling everyone’s feathers and generally being a pain in the neck.
I feel negative emotions towards them and perhaps mutter a few expletives.
Later I discovered that their mother had died and they were just acting out.
Now my whole attitude changes toward them. The negative feelings are replaced with understanding and empathy. I have changed the emotions associated with the event through knowing more and seeing more clearly. They still behaved in the same way but because I was able to see it differently, to empathise, my feelings toward them changed.
This leads us on to why the person was unable to express their grief. It’s because we don’t allow ourselves to say how we feel without fearing judgement.
The same can be said for how we view women. Girls are seen as subject to the whims of emotions, subject to their hormones and expressing emotion freely is seen as neurotic or dramatic.
When did it become a drama to fully express our feelings? It isn’t!
The problem occurs when the emotions are kept in check until there is an explosion, often over a seemingly small event, but it’s the small straw that breaks the camel’s back.
How much simpler would life be if we simply said how we feel all the time. How much pressure would it eliminate? How much better would we communicate and understand each other, both man to man and man to woman?
Going back to our earliest childhood to before we learned shame for feeling honestly is where we can retrain ourselves. After all, we’re just toddlers with bills and responsibilities.
The child is still in there behind the walls we’ve created to protect them. The real problem is the walls have become prisons for our freedom.
We have to go back and relearn self love in the context of feeling freely, expressing freely, crying freely and doing it all without fear of being seen as “less than”.
If we all do it then we all start from a new, levelled playing field where it’s okay to cry when we’re sad or frustrated or joyful and ecstatic. It’s ok to hug when we win and just as okay to do so when we lose.
Learning self love is being tough on ourselves, having standards, discipline, and a morality that is constantly being tested and redefined as a process of evolution.
It’s the opposite of being hard on ourselves. That happens when we are self critical, undervaluing, self punishing and not seeing our value to ourselves, which prevents growth and makes us less.
Relearning to love ourselves and to show emotion freely is a daily test. It’s a test of our trust in others and in ourselves. What if someone laughs at you for showing emotion? Well, what if they do?
Are you grounded enough in who you are to not only survive that but to use it to tell yourself that you can just let it go and be yourself and continue on your own path?
If so, you have learned a valuable lesson in Acceptance. One that will help you be a calm, relaxed, happy person and that will teach others that there is a way they can learn too. It’s called The Art of Acceptance.
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