Over the past few years, I’ve grown more and more comfortable with of my emotions. I attribute this to a variety of factors: grad school, self-work, and straight up life experience. During my 3 years of grad school, studying the field of counseling, I learned about who I was as a person. I learned that I was someone who intellectualized difficult experiences, overthinking them and therefore extinguishing my “negative” emotions (negative is in quotations because truly all emotions are good emotions and we need them all for a meaningful life, but more on that later…). Intellectualization is defined by changingminds.org as, “a ‘flight into reason’, where the person avoids uncomfortable emotions by focusing on facts and logic.”
I’m not exactly sure where this began for me, but it was very much apparent when I was in grad school learning how to be a counselor. I’m someone who is innately optimistic, with a child-like imagination, and energetic personality. This was and continues to be a huge part of my identity. I aim to spread smiles and to bring light into the lives of those that are hurting. Little did I know, I needed to get in touch with the side of me that experienced hurt, loss, and pain in order to do so effectively. After it was pointed out to me by a clinical supervisor that I intellectualized, I started seeking out ways I could get more in touch with my own feelings. I sought out my own individual therapy, began writing about my life, and letting myself be vulnerable (sharing my full range of emotions) with others.
Progressively, I’ve become more and more able to let myself “fully feel.” AKA I don’t talk myself out of emotions. I recognize that there are times where it’s okay to be sad, angry, or upset. I work to acknowledge what I’m feeling and at first… just let it be. When I experienced something horrible in the past, I was prone to discounting my experience with thoughts like “it could be worse,” or “It makes sense that this happened, because___.” Now, I aim to allow myself to be present with what I’m going through, to be mindful.
This wave of emotional connectedness has manifested in my life in a variety of ways, one of those being tears. In the past, I was NOT a fan of crying, I avoided it at all costs. Now, all it takes is singing a song I resonate with in my car… I totally didn’t cry yesterday listening to a Taylor Swift song *cough* *cough* I did. Where else have I cried? How about at a crowded brunch restaurant upon hearing my best friend was in a happy new relationship? Yep, that one’s true too. Quick run of some other locations water has run out of my eyes: my bed, concerts, the office, the movie theatre, my neighbor’s house, the University of Central Florida, and the list keeps growing. I’m now proud of my precious tears, and you should be too! 😊
As I said earlier, all emotions are good emotions. They are signals to the self about our human experience. Here are some examples of what our emotions might be communicating: happiness tells us that we are enjoying ourselves or that we are proud, anger tells us something needs to change, and sadness is the embodiment of loss or grief. When emotions come up, it is our chance to tune in, to listen, and to respond with compassion. It just so happens that sometimes a compassionate response to our own emotions is to have a good cry. Really, if you’re not convinced yet, you should try it! This is your personal mission from me. You got this!
Want more on this topic? Here are some more good reads about the benefits of crying: