Emotional Waves

Estimated read time... 3 minutes

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I’ve been thinking a lot about emotional waves lately.  Perhaps it is because of winter, when we often retreat inwards. Perhaps it is because of my ongoing, albeit less pervasive, relationship with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Perhaps it is all of the changes happening in my life. Whatever the reason, emotions, and the waves they can create, are on my mind.

Some of the most predominant things that I often hear or read about with regards to emotions is the notion of either being positive and optimistic, being calm or being “balanced”, at all costs.

I cannot help but wonder, what are balanced emotions supposed to look like? How do we know when we are balanced? Why do we feel the need to always be positive, optimistic or calm? What is “wrong” with getting angry and releasing pent up frustration? What’s “wrong” with feeling sadness?

As far as I’m concerned, none of our emotions or feelings are “wrong”.

Our emotions become problematic when we focus our energies on our sadness, anger, even joy and positivity, to the detriment of ours and others’ wellbeing.

This focus can take the form of emotional stuffing, such as: “I NEVER get angry”, or not allowing yourself to grieve over the loss of something. This focus can also take the form of repetitive thoughts: “I’m never happy” or “life is terrible.” Heck, life can be terrible, and sometimes it feels like I’ll never get over a loss, or be joyful and positive, or not angry. It’s the way of living.  Some of us have it harder than others, and that’s the way of it as well.

Some days, the day is such that there is a true connection to the self and earth, where everything feels right and grounded. It feels like I am living my purpose on days like that. It is wonderful; it is rare. Other days, I wake up on the proverbial “wrong side of the bed” and then the rest of the day is off, nothing seems to go right: trains are delayed, there are technical problems with work, there’s bad news to be heard and processed, it takes forever to get home, emotions want to erupt out of nowhere over the smallest of things. Those can be the days where it feels like life is drowning me. And still, there are days where everything is the way it is, it is neither a particularly joyous day nor a bad day. It’s another day, bobbing along in this world.

We are all in a state of flux, floating on this ocean that we call life and being human.

What matters is that we allow ourselves to truly feel our emotions and feelings without judgment (“I’m such a terrible person for being angry with this situation”) or the desire to “fix” oneself (ie not feel the emotion being experienced, or listen to what our soul is trying to tell us). Only then can we choose how we are going to respond.

Being in a constant state of reaction is extremely stressful on the body and mind. Fighting or denying my emotions is completely exhausting.

Instead, I’m choosing to ride the waves of emotion that pour through me, knowing full well that storms come and go, that fighting the storm is as useless as trying to save the sun’s light in my pockets. If I choose to not fight the storm, to acknowledge that it is here and I’m in it, the storm passes with less strife and damage, allowing me to learn how to respond appropriately. By all means, I am not necessarily adept at navigating these storms. We’re all learning how to be more of who we are, and we all swim a little bit differently through these waters.

It took me years to learn that “go with the flow” didn’t mean that nothing mattered, or that I should have non-responses to difficult situations. For me, “go with the flow” (aka “balanced emotions”) means that I can choose to swim against the current flow, or I can go with it and ride it out when the going gets tough vs. sinking in or fighting the current. After all, nothing is permanent, everything changes; we are in a state of flux. If we choose to ride it out, to not get caught up in acting out against the storm, we can come out the other side a bit more seasoned and, if we’re lucky, wiser from the experience.

It is a tough thing to remember, I have trouble remembering it especially when the storm seems to be at its worst.

Life pulls us along whether we choose to be pulled or not, so why not choose to ride the waves of flux knowing they won’t last forever, respond accordingly, and enjoy the calm and peace when we have it.