The answer is simple. No. We may have shared emotional experiences like the thrill ride of a roller coaster, the tears from a sad movie, the reflexive nervous laughter that happens when someone trips and falls. Sure we can all feel those things together, even at the same time, but your feelings are not like my feelings, and mine are unlike yours. Mine come from a different foundation, a different history, a different set of genes, so something that makes me laugh so hard I contemplate Poise pads, may not have the same impact on your bladder. Something that makes me cry so hard the snot just runs like a newly opened dam, may merely make you tear up. Does that make your feelings right and mine wrong? Does that make me more sensitive and you insensitive? Another simple answer, no. It makes you a human capable of a wealth of emotions and experiences based on those emotions, and the only job you have is to honor those emotions. It doesn’t mean that you can’t overdo it sometimes or get overwhelmed or find that your emotions aren’t physiologically manageable. That’s why we have all sorts of tools out there to help you, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Biofeedback, and yes, even medication. Depression for example, is not a choice, it’s an illness or a disorder, it’s something that goes on deep inside a person that impacts the outside of a person. Sure, depression can be brought on by trauma, whereas it’s experienced in a temporary way, and they’re the lucky ones in a sense, because they will get to the light at the end of the tunnel. Others that suffer deep depression aren’t necessarily looking for the end of the tunnel, but just a little relief from the darkness, and those people typically benefit from medication. Didn’t mean to end up so maudlin today, but the notion of emotions is a constant theme. Totem Tamers came out of my need to help my middle son deal with his anxiety attacks. I had no idea how to help him, I had no idea what was going on in his head, and I had no idea what would happen from moment to moment. Part of my frustration was not understanding why his shirt not fitting just right could set him off into a full blown rage, for example. Trust me, I get pissed when sucking in my gut and yanking up my pants from the heels doesn’t help get me zipped, but I move on. My son gets trapped in his emotional response. I still struggle with his responses, but at least now, I can say “That’s his response and although I don’t understand or relate to it, my goal is to help him through it.” So when someone tells you something that is upsetting to them and you don’t quite get it or resonate with it, don’t dismiss it as unimportant or silly. That’s the worst thing you can do to someone. Take a deep breath, exhale, and let them know that you’re listening and that you hear their frustrations and that even though you may not “get” what’s causing them to have the emotional experience, you recognize and validate that they are having that experience. Maybe that was too convoluted. Let’s do a quick scene to demonstrate:
Son: “I can’t sleep in that bed now because my little brother was laying on it.”
Mom: (In my head: “Are you freaking kidding me?! It’s late. I’m tired. There are two other beds to choose from. Can you please just get into one so I can go read my trashy novel and hopefully fall asleep soon?!”) Out loud and for real now: “Honey, I hear how frustrated you are that your brother got on the bed. It’s late and we are all tired. You have two other beds to choose from so how can we make this happen?”
Make more sense? See how I didn’t tell him he was being ridiculous and incredibly infuriating? I let him know that I heard him, let him know that it was ok for him to have his feelings but also that the rest of have feelings too and the goal is to move forward and through the feelings not just stay in them.
So with that I leave you to feel your feelings and hum Peter Frampton all day!
If you don’t have a Totem Tamer to help you through your feelings, you can get one just by clicking on any of the Totems on the page!