“If you see yourself in the correct way, you are all as much extraordinary phenomena of nature as trees, clouds, the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire, the arrangement of the stars, and the form of a galaxy. You are all just like that, and there is nothing wrong with you at all.” – Alan Watts
Many of us experience an ongoing, internal struggle with our desires and emotions. We believe that if we were “better” or “healthier” people, we wouldn’t feel the way we do. We shouldn’t want another slice of cake, shouldn’t be attracted to a co-worker, should feel more devastated about a family member’s death.
The truth is, our desires and emotions are often largely out of our control. We know this because, if people were in complete control of our emotions, no one would ever choose to feel angry or sad or in pain. We would just shut off sadness, easy as turning the nozzle on a sink. Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple.
So what would happen if, instead of engaging in a futile struggle to change our feelings, we accepted them? Accepting our feelings leads to accepting our very selves as “extraordinary phenomena of nature.”
But how do we develop acceptance of our feelings? Certainly, it’s easier said than done. It’s a lifelong process that will be harder some days than others. Becoming aware of your thoughts (particularly self-judgement), feelings, and behaviors is a good place to start.
Another thing to consider is your cultural biases. Many cultures perpetuate the idea that strong men do not cry. Who decided that expressing emotions outwardly is weak? For that matter, who decided that only men need be strong? Who writes the rules? Culture is changing all the time, and we can re-write rules that cause suffering. Why not?
What do you think? Reply in the comments or write to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Have a mindful Monday.