By Marc Aronoff
The greatest obstacle to emotional honesty is fear.
You may have seen this: In the wonderful movie, Inside Out, about real-time emotions and how they act, Riley finally takes ownership of her sadness and is no longer in conflict with it. She is free. She is able to feel good about all her parts, including sadness, and is at one with herself.
As a result of embracing and accepting her sadness, she experiences more joy and happiness and a better feeling about all her parts. How strange: by accepting something she does not like, she is happier.
As the famous Rabbi Dov Heller says, “The more we feel emotionally integrated the more we alive we feel. The more at war we are with our feelings, the less alive we feel. Emotional integration requires emotional honesty. You can’t integrate a feeling you refuse to acknowledge. The reason we do not acknowledge what we feel is because the meaning associated with it is too dangerous or threatening to face.”
For example, a boy named Owen wants to break up with his girlfriend Jennifer because he wants to date other girls. Jennifer feels very upset, abandoned, and empty. And her (now ex) boyfriend, triggers in her sadness and fear, because breaking up reminds her (perhaps unconsciously) of when her parents broke up. Jenifer saw her father and mother get divorced five years earlier and it was horrible to experience. Now, when her boyfriend want to break up, she is feeling totally overwhelmed.
She has a few choices: 1. accept herself and the normal sadness of breaking up with someone and by doing this, letting the sadness move through, or 2. She can pretend everything is fine and stuff her feelings deep inside and perhaps get really mad at Owen and everyone else around her and act very upset. It is easier to get mad at others, than to feel your sadness, let go, and give in.
Sometimes, not always, try just letting go. Do not try and be right or control anyone. Say little, and care a lot. It does not mean you are being passive. This is a situation where you are safe but struggling with difficult emotions. Stay in touch with your feelings. See what happens if you accept your feelings as they are, no good or bad, no judgment, and then, let time take care of you.
You may be surprised to see you feel better sooner than later.
As you become more emotionally compassionate with yourself and others, the more you become integrated and whole, and the more you can experience greater peace.
And being peaceful is a good thing.