It's ironic how in those moments when we need connection the most are the moments we often tend to isolate ourselves. Or at least that's my experience.. perhaps for fear of being a burden to others, perhaps for seeming weak, that we don’t have our shit together. And oh now, we’re not happy all the time, really?!
Where did it come from this idea that we ought to be happy all the time?
That we need to put on some sort of face for the rest of the world?
Only fuelled by social media where we’re all mostly showing all the great moments and hwo much fun we’re having.. how often do you see a post showing a picture of someone crying? Or do we publicly post about the difficulties and the stresses we all have..
It’s funny too because when we don’t express things, it feeds on itself, it begins to seem bigger than it is, it gathers weight and becomes a burden.. yet when we express it, share our troubles with others, the load lightens as we realize its not the end of the world, and that we are not the only ones in the world experiencing this. Perhaps nobody is experiencing the precise situation you are in, yet billions of people over the centuries have experienced different variations of the same emotions. So speak, voice, connect.. its like all this bottled up emotion, is released, in a letting go of sorts.
Yet it’s not always easy.. you could even say it’s a learned skill.. a vital one too, not one we’re taught in school (yet!). This ability to navigate emotion, to experience emotion, and to express it in a constructive manner.. so that we’re not attacking ourselves or others..
So how is it we can encourage each other to feel safe enough to express all of ourselves in our fullness? Sadness, anger, and joy?
What practices can we ourselves personally develop to encourage ourselves to be brave, and reach out in those times when all we want to do is shut the world out?
It all begins really with the recognition that that’s what’s happening. As with most things, when we’re unaware of what’s happening, when we’re lost in our own emotion, functioning on autopilot, its hard to have perspective and change things. Practices that encourage the development of mindfullness and self awareness over time allow us to begin to be more conscious of what is happening.. And that’s where it begins, this self awareness where we can see that we’re shutting ourselves off, pushing people away.
Once we realize this we begin to have a choice: do I continue on this autopilot mode of self destruction, or do I reach out and see if theres an alternative? It takes courage, being brave, and just going for it.. its rewiring our habits, our way of being.. and it takes practice and trying over and over and over again.. and we’re not always going to get it right. We’re not always going to do what’s best for us.. but we still try over and over again until eventually the healthy pattern becomes our new autopilot.
Yet our conditioning to shut the world out has been with us for decades, it’s engrained deep in us. So it’s a habit we’ve lived through so many times, so it’s unlikely that change is going to be instantaneous.. and sometimes at the beginning it seems like you’ll never get there.. yet give it a year even, and with retrospect you will see the change has happened.. that’s the funny thing about change.. sometimes its hard to see as its happening.. yet with retrospect, with perspective, it’s much more evident.
But don’t take my word for it, try and see for yourself. Knowledge isn’t really innate until we’ve experienced it for ourself.