Life can get spectacularly complex and sometimes things can be hard – really hard. In 2020, we’re under tremendous pressure to pick up and keep going, even when we have thousands of pounds of weight on our backs. Sometimes, I might even contend most of the time, it’s important to go ahead and let yourself sit with that weight before continuing. Not only will lachrymose reflection help you process what it is that’s really driving your funk, it can also help prevent that flying head-first into a brick wall burnout that pushing on puts us at special risk for.
I’m not saying you should just throw caution into the wind and stop moving altogether. Instead, I’m saying that spending time with the emotions you’re feeling – meditating and working through them, is vital to being able to break through the valleys of life.
The Pressure to Press On
When I look around at my peers, one of the persistent problems we’re faced with, especially as women, is being strong. We wear strength like the battle armor our male counterparts held onto in years past – before it was more socially acceptable for men to show emotion. Now, women often feel the pressure to push feelings of melancholy aside to deal with later. We downplay our emotions or even block them from ourselves.
Blocked Emotions Resurface at Inconvenient Times
Speaking from experience, when we say that we’re too busy or too inconvenienced by our emotions, they often come back in strange ways and at the worst times possible. When my older brother passed away several years ago, I was also dealing with the adjustment of going from two to three children, an impending move as we’d just purchased a new home, and the pressure to perform for my clients. I figured I’d deal with the grief at some point. What wound up happening is that a year later, I fell apart and it manifested with postpartum anxiety and depression so that I had no choice but to deal with the emotions.
I find that journaling is especially effective as a means for me to get emotions out. I’m not great when it comes to talking about them, but writing them, it allows me to reflect on what I’m writing. Some people find meditation helpful, and even others find therapy or group talk therapy helpful. It may take time to figure out what works for you. Sometimes, I just sit and listen to music that elicits an emotional response.
While it may seem overkill to actually plan time to sit with your feelings of discontent, it’s important to do so. While crying at work because it was a stressful day isn’t socially acceptable in most cases, crying at home while listening to comforting music is – and if we don’t take time to do it, those emotions may come out when dealing with an irate client or even in line at the grocery store.
Identifying Emotions and Their Sources
Sometimes, we just fall into a general funk where it’s not clear what the cause is. Often this is because we’ve been “pushing on” for far too long. It’s important in this case to try to identify the exact emotion you’re feeling. For me, it took a while to identify that what I was feeling in the wake of my brother’s death was grief compounded with stress and postpartum anxiety and depression. It’s okay if it’s not clear what’s causing the emotion at first. Sometimes, just identifying the exact emotion you’re feeling – disappointment, stress, overwhelm, etc., can help you to start to unpack it.
Once you’ve identified the emotion, then you can start to work at what’s causing it. Has it been too long since you’ve taken a real vacation? Is your job overwhelming? Is it time for a career change? Is a relationship causing you strife?
Picking Up and Moving On
Once you’ve identified the emotion and the cause, you can start to heal. Sometimes, talk therapy may be beneficial. Other times, simply identifying what’s going on could help as you can make course corrections or talk to those who you’re having conflicts with. Dealing with difficult emotions helps us to grow and excel as humans. It’s okay to have those emotions and one way or another, we need to acknowledge that they are there.