Recently I introduced myself to a group of people as a motivational teacher. I qualified this by saying that there is a difference between motivational teachers and motivational speakers. Motivational speakers inspire people to reach their potential through the use of anecdotes and humor. Motivational teachers help people to understand why they do what they do, often drawing to the surface hidden beliefs and painful feelings. I concluded my introduction by saying that motivational speaker’s make people laugh while I often make them cry.
I am a firm believer in the therapeutic power of laughter. However, I also believe that people need to cry. I saw once again at Connections this past weekend how important it is for people to find safe places to work through their pain. Deep within you is a need to release the emotional impact of the painful events which have occurred over a life time. Holding on to these traumatized emotions places you at risk of emotional and physical consequences. Medical health experts tell us that 80% of all people in hospitals today are there because of emotionally related illnesses. Unfortunately, crying has been labeled by many cultures as a sign of weakness and from an early age children are discouraged from expressing emotion. There is a child within every one of us that is looking for permission to express pent up emotions.
I used to work in an office building that housed a number of different companies. One day a lady from one of the offices stuck her head into my office and asked; “Why is it that everyone that goes into your office comes out crying?” I looked up at her and said, “I guess it is because it is a safe place to cry.” She looked at me for a couple of seconds and began to cry. I asked her if she wanted to sit down and talk, but she quickly declined and headed back to her office looking embarrassed and uncomfortable.
Whether you are conscious of it or not, every person is looking for an opportunity to express unresolved emotions. To suppress emotion is to cause an imbalance between the head and the heart. Every person has been given the ability to think and to feel and both are required to live a complete fulfilled life. The problem here has to do with the issue of pain. The pain of certain memories and the emotions they stir up can be so intense that you will do almost anything to avoid them. The main strategy is to suppress the emotions until they are almost completely dormant. The problem with this strategy is that all emotions come as a package deal. When you suppress your painful emotions you also suppress your ability to experience positive, pleasurable emotions. As an emotionally suppressed person, you can easily become the living, walking dead. You will lack any spark or passion about life and the ability to just feel it.
One of our participants this past weekend came for a second time just to feel the losses they were experiencing in their life. They were not satisfied just to allow their head to quickly develop a strategy to move forward and get on with their life. They trusted their heart enough to take them into the depths of their pain without crashing into depression. The reward of taking that risk is to continue to experience all the pleasurable feelings that bring life meaning.
For better or for worse, I want to be able to feel my life. That is why it is so important that I seek out safe places to work through my pain and restore my emotions. These safe places may take the form of an individual, a group of people or some workshop that provides me with the ability to express real honest thoughts and feelings. As scary as the prospect of this experience may be, the payoff is once again to feel my life.
What are you willing to do to feel again?