With dark raven paper and twinkling white ink, I wrote my heart in the night’s sky.
Shannon L. Alder
I know what it is to shut down. Shut off. Shut up. Shut out. Shut me away. Eighteen months ago, I found myself numbed, tired, and apathetic. I put myself to bed and wondered how on earth I’d landed in this place.
My go-to destination for answers is often a book. Books give me characters to identify with, facts to apply to my situation and a place to explore my emotions.
Brené Brown’s Rising Strong and Shauna Niequist’s Present over Perfect accompanied me during this time. When I read about how we squash our emotions until they come out in tears, anger, or in shutting down completely, I could relate.
I had shut down completely and didn’t want to feel anything ever again.
I read about sitting in silence.
I read about vulnerability.
I read about rest.
I read about feeling every spectrum of emotion.
There’s the overwhelming outpouring of everything all at once and there’s numbing. How do we experience the full spectrum of emotions in a healthy way?
How do we turn the heart back on and feel the spectrum of emotions?
Brené Brown reminds us, There’s no such thing as selective emotional numbing. There is a full spectrum of human emotions and when we numb the dark, we numb the light.
If you want to feel the joy, you have to be able to feel the sadness.
One technique for learning to feel joy again is to take the time to notice and celebrate the good things, no matter how small they may seem.
Joy is hiding everywhere–sometimes even within a difficult moment, side by side with other emotions.
Even in the midst of a disagreement with your partner or a friend, perhaps one of you says something that makes you laugh. Stop. Feel the joy of laughter.
Autumn is beginning and it feels cosy to cuddle up on a couch with a blanket over your knees and read a book. Stop. Enjoy the feeling of comfort.
Allowing yourself to grieve well can be painful. When you’ve numbed yourself for so long, the pain can be intense when you allow yourself to go there.
Talking to someone about your feelings in a safe place is a key component of learning to feel the full spectrum of emotions.
I find writing my emotions out, in all their gory, horrible, authentic detail helps me to not only get them out, but to process them.
Coming out of numbness is an unfolding. Unfolding emotion comes from a moment here, a choice there.
When we allow ourselves to feel again, that is when our best moments are likely to be formed.
We think that being numb is safe. It’s not.
When we work through our emotions and arrive on the other side, this is where freedom and joy live. This is where we find authentic answers. This is where we find our best lives.
I learned to make friends with my emotions. I learned to feel each one, interrogate them, sit with them, and work through them.
Bathe completely in your emotions. Feel again.
Rushing through life waters down our experience. It gives the illusion that we are getting more out of life,
but in reality, we are just skimming the surface.
The richest moments are always the one that we bathe in a completely.