I saw a post on Facebook a while ago asking a question. The question was “What would you do if the person you’re in a relationship with broke up with you on social media?” So many of the responses included “I wouldn’t care”,“I would say good riddance”, or “Why would I care?” or some variation of feeling nothing and going on with life as usual. Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer that people enter our lives for a number of different reasons and they leave when their time has passed. When their time passes, I don’t believe that we should hang on, but instead allow the space for them to leave and something new to enter. However, sometimes endings are painful. Sometimes they are sad. Sometimes the way people leave our lives can be hurtful. And that is ok. What’s more, having feelings about the endings or the person leaving is ok. Actually, it’s more than ok.
That is where we, as a collective, have arrived. We’ve gone for generations burying our wounds to the point of denying them. We have deemed feelings as weakness and disavowed any knowledge of them, whereby we have determined that not having any feeling at all is a testament to true strength. We’ve become so afraid of being hurt that we’ve decided the best course of action is to simply shut down. Apathy is the new strong. We’re then covering this apathy with the new age ideology of self-love. We’re so well-adjusted and we love ourselves so much that we don’t care about what anyone says, thinks, or does to us. We mask this with affirmations, mantras, achievements and all kinds of positivity that we can get our hands on.
Unfortunately, we’re not helping ourselves. We’re hindering ourselves and the world in which we live. Let’s go back to the Facebook post I mentioned at the beginning. I had to ask the question, “Why are many of you involved in relationships with people with whom you wouldn’t care if they left you and did so in such a dismissive way?” Some of the answers I received involved, “I don’t want nobody who doesn’t want me,” or “Why should I care about someone who doesn’t care about me?” Again, there goes that idea that being strong and loving myself means that I don’t care and I am weak for caring. There’s no shame in caring for those who either are unable or unwilling to care for us. The solution is to release the shame, not to release the caring.
This act of not caring is affecting us in ways we haven’t considered and it’s because we are in denial of the affect it has on us. In spite of our best attempts to live in a state of emotional denial, we are not actually suppressing those feelings like we think. Instead, those feelings are showing up in different ways: road rage, bullying, depression, abuse, even the mass shootings we have been seeing lately. These are all the side-effects of the emotions that have been silenced for far too long. We’re imploding before our very eyes and the silenced emotions we’ve been hiding are crying, kicking and screaming for us to pay attention to, give voice to and allow them to be.
I’m reminded of the movie, Falling Down, starring Michael Douglas as William Foster, a middle-aged man dealing with unemployment and divorce. All William wants to do is have the life he thought he should have and make it to his daughter’s birthday party when his car breaks down in the middle of traffic. His long-held frustration and bitterness gives way to violent encounters with people all across the city. This movie was released in 1993 and it seemed so far-fetched back then, but 24 years later we are seeing this play out more and more before our very eyes. Just watch the news or read the newspaper and you will see some version of this story in the headlines.
Now, I don’t say any of this to depress you. Quite the contrary. I say it to wake you. To arouse you. To inspire you. To light a fire. If you’re reading this, odds are quite high that you are a light worker of some kind and I don’t mean to pressure you, but it’s going to be up to you to shine the light on this. It’s going to be up to you to lead and show others the way. The time has come for us to rise and to give voice to our emotions—all of them. Vulnerability is the new sexy and the new strong. Vulnerability is the way that we’re going to free ourselves and live the life the Universe is conspiring to help us create. Our emotions are our allies. They show up to tell us, teach us, and guide us. They are not “bad” nor are they “good.” Instead, they’re simply necessary.
I think the gentle ogre Shrek said it best when he simply stated, “Better out than in.” It’s time for us to let our emotions out–in healthy, constructive ways at that.