When you don’t get help to go through emotional experiences as a child, you don’t really learn from them. If, when a bad feeling arises, we are asked to go to our own room to calm down or to return to a social situation once “you can be nice”, we get the idea that some feelings are not allowed.
When feelings are not allowed, one starts to avoid them in every possible way. You try not to feel. But the feelings don’t disappear by ignoring them, rather they get stronger when pressed down. Pushing down your emotions will start to weaken the inner vitality and later it may start to show as emotion-avoidance behaviour: if we sense, even the slightest indication, that some emotion may arise in certain situations, we try to avoid those situations. And in doing so, we begin to limit ourselves, our lives.
As an adult, it is not too late to learn how to face these emotions, to allow them to surface, to really feel them and name them. I find that when I allow myself to feel grief, it comes with many different layers of unknown grief. Then again, sitting with shame brings up different situations from my body’s memory to experiences when I’ve wanted to sink underground. And it’s good to keep in mind that if handling and managing emotions is difficult, it’s not our fault, even though we’re adults! One cannot assume that someone would know something, when learning it was not allowed to us or in fact , no-one ever taught us! It. is. Not. Your. Failure.
When I wrote my novel Life First, I also wanted to write an emotional story in it: a story that one can empathise with through the feelings that have remained unfelt, have been ignored or otherwise been left not dealt with. I have already received dozens of reviews on how, through reading the book, it has been cleansing to fully experience the whole breadth of one’s emotional scale, to allow one’s self to feel, fully. And so, as the feelings are heard – they are also “cleansed”, no longer weighing down on one’s body.
It is said, crying cleanses. But I also believe laughter is cleansing!