Stuff It

Emotions.  They are vital to who we are.  They make the happy times of life vibrant and alive.  They cloud our thinking. Emotions are the neon lights of life. 

Do you remember the way you felt the first, or maybe only, time you fell in love? That intoxicating thrill  left your heart pounding and your head spinning.

Have you ever experienced blind rage? Any mother understands the feeling of complete madness that comes against anyone who would dare harm her child.  The mom who shot her child’s abuser in the courtroom? In a heartbeat, without a second thought, I could see myself doing the same thing.

Life without emotion would minimize us to a zombie like existence in which we would move from one task to another, and yet emotions can sometimes make life so difficult simple tasks seem daunting. 

Sometimes, and for only a brief time, we would be wise to stuff emotions.  That’s right. In a world that says, “Express yourself”, sometimes sheer survival requires us to take our emotions and throw them under the couch cushions with candy wrappers and loose change.

I read this on Jen Hatmaker’s blog yesterday and it has been on my mind ever since.  Melissa Fay Green  gives this insight into stuffing emotions:

Put Feelings on a back-burner. This is not the time for Feelings. If you could express your feelings right now, you’d be saying things like, “Oh my God, I must have lost my mind to think that I can handle this, to think that I wanted a child like this. I’ll never manage to raise this child; I’m way way way way over my head. I’ll never spend time with my spouse or friends again; my older children are going to waste away in profound neglect; my career is finished. I am completely and utterly trapped.” You see? What’s the point of expressing all that right now? Put Feelings in the deep freeze. Live a material life instead: wake, dress, eat, walk. Let your hands and words mother the new child, don’t pause to look back, to reflect, or to experience emotions. “Shut up, Emotions,” you’ll say. “I’ll check back with you in six months to see if you’ve pulled yourselves together. But no whining meanwhile!”

Wise words. I think maybe for hyper emotional people like myself who tend to “over express”  there is great wisdom in learning to disengage from my feelings for a while and just get through it without tears, pouting, rage… get the idea.

If you, like me, are in a place that requires action when you are dog tired from a 16 hour day, or maybe you need to make a decision based on raw cut emotions, we can learn to wad up those feelings, toss them under the couch and just auto pilot our way through the next few days, or weeks.

There will be time for tears, there will be time for laughter that makes us double over and there will be a time when we hug our loved ones and let our hearts spill over with unspeakable joy.

But for today, today, we just do the thing.  “Shut up emotions! I’ll check back with you in a week or so, today I’ve got to get somethings accomplished.’


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