One Important Thing to Remember About Our Emotions
Today's piece is inspired by an image that I painted in December of 2020. The images of a brown twig with colorful abstract leaves sort of slowly-but-surely falling off or floating away from the twig itself. In this image, I was intentional about painting some of the leaves on the twig and then some of the leaves slowly leaving the twig - sort of at their own pace - as if the wind was blowing in and causing the leaves to rustle. And slowly-but-surely, they started to leave, but not all at the same time.
For me, this image represents how I often feel about my emotions. Something happens in my life or in the world, and suddenly, I am forced to feel my emotions. Whether that feeling is one of apprehensiveness, or anxiousness, or fragility, or reservation, or sensitivity, those feelings are real. And at times, they feel so real, that I may wonder: do I have permission to really feel this? I've got things to do, I’ve got places to be.
However, what this twig represents is that no matter how much I try to hold on to keeping things the way they are, and not truly feeling, the wind will blow, and the leaves will rustle, the leaves will react to the wind. I think that one thing that is easy to forget, and that we have to remember, is that we don't need permission from anyone else to let those leaves rustle, to let those emotions move within us. The gift of therapists and good friends is that in different ways, they can respond and remind us of this. But what about all of those moments where we are alone, and we have things to do, and we feel rushed in an ever moving world?
We have to continue to remind ourselves that when that wind blows in, it does not make us weak if we start to feel our emotions. It does not make us weak if we need to talk about it with someone, or just acknowledge that the wind is heavy today, and you are feeling the full weight of it.
One of those things that can actually help us acknowledge this is a favorite tool of mine that my therapist gave me years ago, called the feelings inventory. I've talked about this before. But I always love to mention it in case someone's never heard of it. But it is a list of feelings when your needs are satisfied, and a list of feelings when your needs are not satisfied. I regularly return to this list to look for words to describe how I'm feeling. It's something about seeing those words on the page that helped me recognize - oh, these feelings are real things! This wind that's blowing in and reminding me of my needs that need to be met - it's real and I am allowed to feel the full weight of that and acknowledge it. It doesn't mean that I have to stay right there forever. But I am allowed to be in the present moment and acknowledge this.
I want to further emphasize that this is not something that anybody should have to do alone. It is so important that we seek help or we continue to seek help when we need it.
I just wanted to take a moment today and share with you this image of a twig holding on and letting go of these leaves being there in this world of ever changing winds, trying to figure out what to do with all of this movement, all of this reaction to the wind. I truly believe that many of us may feel like that twig at times in the wind, trying to hold its place against the weight of everything else. So if you would like, I hope that you can carry this image with you today to remind you that you are free to take time to process things. You are free to feel what you need to feel.
I would like to leave you with a question. You can either journal about this or just carry it with you throughout the day: What emotion are you going to allow yourself to feel today?