This morning, while having coffee, I was casually scanning my social media sites and stumbled upon a post by my son’s 14-year-old friend. It said:
“lol, so I cried in front of my favorite people ever today so now I feel so pathetic. How can I be less weak?”
I could totally relate to her post and it reminded me of the young girl that I used to be – the one who found the answer to her question by shutting off all those feelings. It turned out to be the biggest mistake of my life – one that would take me more 30 years to correct. Here’s what I discovered:
Our feelings are directly tied to our creativity. When we scale back or shut down our emotions – we sever our link to uninhibited self-expression – and create a huge nameless, faceless block in our lives. The result is a constant feeling of dissatisfaction and nothing we ever do seems to relieve this vague ache. And it all starts with shutting down our emotions in an effort to feel in control of our lives.
The irony is that the source of all great inspiration cannot be controlled. It can only speak to us through impressions, feelings or the expression of our emotions. The most beautiful pieces of music, amazing artwork and life changing inventions were not created by sheer will – they were received by someone in an open state.
Additionally, when we push away our sad or painful feelings – we inadvertently also shorten the other side of the emotion spectrum – our joy. While we may not be as sad and vulnerable anymore, we’re also less inclined to feel great happiness. Our natural state becomes a safe but rather boring state of mediocrity.
This is certainly not how we’re supposed to live since we’re always somewhat aware of that fact that there should be something more. It’s like our hearts are continually calling for us to hear this message and finally break out of the rut and find our way back to free self-expression.
Never one to learn my lessons easily, my realization of this had to come via a “breakdown to breakthrough” experience. A series of difficult events stripped me of all the things that I had allowed to define me – and I was left with a blank slate – and a tired but open mind. And what I received in that state was nothing short of miraculous. Little by little, that nagging feeling of old began to disappear and I started to feel hopeful about life again – re-seeing it as the adventure that it really is. I ended up writing a book about it – and found out that people throughout time have followed this same pattern. And it all starts with numbing ourselves and manufacturing a safer, smaller world as a self-defense mechanism.
There’s a huge price to pay for that safety. And I wanted my son’s friend to know that. People are creative by nature – each of us endowed with the specific talents and abilities to leave our mark in a unique way – but first, we must allow our emotions to flow freely. They help to guide the way. There’s no shame in being authentic – having feelings doesn’t make you weak – in fact, the payoff for allowing their expression may just be greatness!
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Marci Wise is the author of Pain, Passion & Purpose. Copyright © 2013 marciwise.com. Material is copyrighted but free to repost as long as proper credit is listed, including our website address.