Feeling Intense Emotions like Depression Doesn’t Necessarily Mean You’re Crazy, It Means You’re Human.
“The thing about people who are truly and malignantly crazy: their real genius is for making the people around them think they themselves are crazy. In military science this is called Psy-Ops, for your info.” –David Foster Wallace, ‘Infinite Jest’
When we utilize critical thinking and question whether what society tells us is true or not, we are called “paranoid.” When a major tragedy strikes, we are conditioned to automatically accept what authority figures and the media tell us without question, lest we wish to be cast into the tainted demographic of society known as “conspiracy theorists” –basically, a manipulation of the term “free-thinkers,” insinuating a person’s open mind is instead a psychologically deranged prison. When we feel sad, we put on brave faces like we were taught to do; and we certainly do not let others see us “break” down, as to do so would be socially unacceptable. We fail to realize this, in reality, is the very definition of weakness. The truly brave thing to do would be to embrace and listen to our feelings, otherwise known as embracing our innate human nature. Rarely do we consider that by repeatedly denying ourselves the opportunity to “break” down and feel our emotions in their entirety, we are simultaneously sealing our fate to break down on a chronic basis in the future, as the accumulated negative energies within us from our repressed emotions will eventually reach full capacity and burst.
When we fail to thoroughly work through and resolve our emotions, their energies remain stuck within us and accumulate until all we feel is their collective darkness, as there is not much room left inside us for anything else. This, of course, is quite frequently the working definition of “chronic depression.” Since we masked our sadness and anger so many times, we seemingly have no root cause for our chronic depression. Once repressed emotions from various experiences become piled up within, it is close to impossible to distinguish one from another and trace each one back to their origin. As a result, there is no identifiable root cause of our now unrelenting depression –and rightfully so, as there are many. Of course, the doctors we go to when such depression befalls us typically only lend to the notion that there is no root cause, and in no way promote healthy methods of taking responsibility for the management of our emotions in the future. However, they nonetheless claim they can help us –and they do, they help us to further gloss over uncomfortable feelings by placing us on psychiatric medications such as anti-depressants. Unfortunately, anti-depressants not only take away feelings of sadness, they to some degree take away all feelings in general.
When it really comes down to it, the choice to escape darkness is at the same time the choice to escape light. To knowingly opt out of painful emotions is to unknowingly opt out of pleasurable ones as well. Unfortunately, this numb state of existence promoted by modern day society is all too easy to fall victim to –especially when medical experts we quite literally trust with our lives tell us it is a correct and healthy way of being, generously giving us substances to feed our desire to not feel pain of any sort. So, who and what is really crazy here?
“Our education from the start has taught us a certain range of emotions, what to feel and what not to feel, and how to feel the feelings we allow ourselves to feel. All the rest is non-existent.” –D.H. Lawrence, ‘A Propos of Lady Chatterley’s Lover’
Since we are taught from a young age which feeling are acceptable to feel, what emotions are safe to express, what heart driven behaviors are appropriate to act upon without deviating from the “norm,” doing otherwise seems incredibly dangerous and can easily invoke paralyzing fear. However, subduing parts of ourselves by cutting off certain feelings and prohibiting emotions from arising past a certain level is the truly dangerous thing to do. It prevents us from fulfilling one of our primary obligations in life –to give birth to all parts of ourselves, to emerge into the world as beings alive in every sense of the word, and to then share with the world our unique gifts stemming from the deep sense of luminous aliveness radiating within.
Allowing Ourselves To Fully Feel
How do we go about allowing ourselves to feel our emotions in their entirety though, and how do we do so without letting ourselves become consumed by the negative energy of the more painful ones? For starters, we stop telling ourselves that feeling any emotion too intensely is wrong, because perhaps there is actually no such thing as feeling TOO intensely, there is only feeling something intensely and not knowing how to then work through those feelings. Perhaps it is not the feelings themselves that are the problem, but our inability to deal with those feelings. Perhaps there is no clearly defined right or wrong way to feel, there is only feeling what it means to be alive in its entirety. And whether or not those feelings are painful or pleasurable will not matter much in the end. What will matter is we can rest assured that we did not take life for granted, knowing we seized every opportunity to fully live.
Next, we must cease to resist strong emotions out of fear, often resulting from a subconscious awareness that surrendering to them will inevitably change us within on a deep level, as anything of depth in life always does –and we certainly must stop worrying that allowing profound changes within may cause others to no longer accept us. After all, any love with conditions is limiting, and thus does not embody the true definition of love. Those who do not love us unconditionally and who hold a firm picture of how we should live our lives do not serve our true nature, and should in no way be allowed to influence who we are or what we do or do not become. Ultimately, we must die to the false belief that a way of life that is safe even exists. As Michael Meade so eloquently put it, “a false sense of security is the only kind there is.”
Once we dissolve the fear of allowing ourselves to fully feel due to the desire to be socially accepted and the like, and begin the process of feeling our emotions in their entirety and journeying deeper into our hearts, we often run into the problem of subconsciously resisting from fully engaging in the process because it is uncomfortable at times. However, at this stage of journeying deeper into our hearts to reclaim our capacity to feel, it is crucial to acknowledge that the only reason we feel this discomfort is because we have been conditioned to believe we should avoid discomfort and pain –much less take responsibility for working through our pain, especially when emotional in nature- at any cost. Basically, we must become comfortable with being uncomfortable. A strange thing happens when we do this –feeling uncomfortable begins to dissipate entirely, as we have given ourselves permission to feel and surrendered to its existence, thus dissolving its power over us. No longer feeling uncomfortable over, well, the act of feeling in itself, sends a signal to our subconscious minds that there are really no “good” or “bad” emotions, there are just emotions. In this, we learn “good” and “bad” are merely a matter of subjective perception, and many of our perceptions regarding what is good and bad are actually not our own that were born out of our own self-discovery and life lessons, but are ones that were instilled within us from a young age via conditioning from others.
It is our inherent birthright to explore life and use our personal experiences to formulate our own perceptions in life. In order to cultivate such experiences, the manner in which we live must stem from the deep sense of aliveness within that can only be accessed when we feel intensely and allow ourselves to be flooded with passion. Inevitably, this leads many to find there is really no such thing as “bad” feelings, in the sense that they are intended to harm us. Rather, the feelings we once revered as “bad” are intended to deliver specific messages to us, signaling certain areas in our lives are not in alignment with the true nature of our souls.
Beginning to work with our feelings rather than against them, and exploring them to unveil the messages they are attempting to reveal, is the process of working with our different ego states –not dissolving our egos entirely, but transforming them. Eric Berne, who developed the idea of Transactional Analysis and Structural analysis, was the first to really bring to light the idea of observable egoic states within individuals –the parent, adult, and child egoic states. Using this theory, we can begin to identify the different ego states within and learn what role each one plays, essentially allowing us to work with and nurture the expressions of all of them rather than suppress them. The ultimate goal is to bring to surface and heal the fragmented parts of ourselves we have repressed, and essentially reintegrate these parts of ourselves into the whole. You can learn more about this process and the different techniques for working with ego states and reintegrating fragmented parts of the self into the whole to cultivate a healthier internal state here.
To feel is to be human, to be alive. To not feel is to be less human, to be less alive. This is a grotesquely reckless way to live, as it involves taking life for granted. In fact, it may be one of the most damaging forms of abuse humans are capable of inflicting upon themselves. I in no way expect you to accept my words and the concepts they shape as absolute truths. In fact, I beg of you to do the exact opposite –to consider them, but not adopt them, and instead go out and find your own personal truths.
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