Why I am so afraid to feel my negative emotions? Why when I feel despair or anxiety rising up do I want to run and hide, to distract myself, to do anything but avoid feeling what I feel? I am not a good runner in sports, but I am a very good runner from my fears. Isn’t it generally a human condition? We try to stop ourselves from feeling the way we consider negative. But what if we stop stopping – and start exploring?
Feeling is healing, I have recently heard in a yin yoga class. And I loved that thought. But I am so good in suppressing the feelings I don’t like – even though I consider myself very self-conscientious and in touch with my inner life. But it shows in situations where I face really uncomfortable emotions that I have no interest for self-inquiry. I just would love to switch the channel and be in a totally different state. As much as I respect Tony Robbins and all that philosophy of quantum leaps and switching states, I want to answer to that call for facing my emotion. I feel that it can bring me closer to my true self.
I have walked through the dark times of my life, I had long periods of frustration and despair resulting in depression – and I know that in all that I managed to pull myself up by the hair. In fact, if there is only talent I possess it is this: pulling myself up by the hair. I used to complain about all disadvantages in my life – coming from a poor family and a poor country, being an immigrant from Eastern Europe in the West and feeling inferior, starting from the scratch, learning the language, getting an education, looking for a job, doing work that I would never have to do in my home country like baby-sitting and washing houses, being alone in a foreign country, no family, no support, counting only on my own strength. I used to complain and see myself as a victim of circumstances. God knows how many years I used to learn that complaining doesn’t work and that victimizing myself doesn’t pay off, only slightly but at which price. I had to do a certain amount of work on myself to change that mentality and start taking power back into my hands. To view my disadvantages as advantages, the obstacles that made me stronger.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, they say. I had to learn it for myself though it took so many years. And still I find myself sometimes feeling like a loser. After everything I achieved, and I could add proudly, I did it on my own, no help from my family, no husbands, no lucky connections, I find myself in a space where I doubt myself and wonder if I can be the person I want to be. This is a down side of being a dreamer: a vulnerability that comes from setting a goal that is higher of what you can achieve right now and getting unsure if you can do that. It is so popular to say “Follow your dreams”, but who talks about the price you pay? I am a warm advocate of living by your dreams, because this is maybe the thing I can be an expert at. Indeed, I am a professional dreamer. Makes a perfect phrase for bio in Instagram, right? But who would tell you the price you have to pay for following your dream? The vulnerability you feel for living by something that is unseen? The insecurity when you tell your friends your plans and visions? I guess, I should start talking about that soon.
The difference between then and now is that I have gained some wisdom and experience. It is still uncomfortable, it it still scary, it feels like you jump off the cliff without a parachute, or you are reaching for something beyond your reach. It doesn’t feel any better. But the difference is in that you have done before. You have jumped and you know you survived. You have reached by the tips of your fingers and clenched hard, but you managed it. You have walked through despair and discomfort, through frustration and depression, and long periods of loneliness and broken heart while trying to figure out your future and your professional choices, all at once. And you know that you can do it. You don’t want to repeat it, but you know that you have built some muscles there. It looks different, it looks like it’s something you haven’t done before – but essentially it is the same: reaching out beyond your reach. Doing an effort without a promise of result. A leap of faith.
I think, this is another talent of mine. Scaring myself to death by the challenges that I have enough resources for. When I studied in the university, before every exam I would find arguments why I will not make that given exam. And my mom would react like: “But this is what you usually say before every exam, since school. And every time you end up with the best results”. But no, I would say, this one is totally different, and I am gonna fail it and here is why… Maybe, I should get better at generalizing – at seeing that many situations are just the same? 🙂 Anyway, there must hide a special gift in this kind of ability. Once I will be able to turn it into gold 🙂
So here is my recipe for life. Don’t run from your fears (though running is very good for putting you in the better mood). Run towards your fears. Stop stopping yourself from feeling what you feel – and start exploring. We are the alchemists of our living, I believe, and we have that ability of taking any experience and turn it into gold. So take that discomfort, take that distressing emotion and see where you can turn that into gold.
Have you discovered your ability of turning negative into positive? Share it in the comments with me!