Saturday, September 19, 2009


view from my room,
YMCA hostel, Bath UK

There comes a point when you are willing to risk stepping out of your comfort zone in order to experience something new. Sometimes, when opportunity arises we approach it with one toe dip to test the waters and gradually inch forward until we find ourselves surrounded. Other times, we have no choice but to take a step into the deep end full immersion style. What both methods have in common is the need to feel trust. When it is lacking, the new experience can feel shocking, traumatic even. When trust thrives, both from the inside dressed as confidence and from the outside dressed in compassion, new experiences are so much more enamouring.

Like every human being, the idea of seeking out an experience that has the potential of bursting the emotional control panel automatically sends up red flags of caution. Why is that the case? Why do we think we have to be "in control" all the time? Feelings are messy. Feelings smack of instability. Extreme feelings frighten away any semblance of order. Express too much and you're labelled loopy. Express too little and you're considered cold like steel. Extreme feelings make others squirm while you the "out of control" being zip up inside a coat of guilt and shameful embarrassment.

Intensity of any kind is considered a turn off by many. But tell me, if this is a problem, who owns the problem.... the person who feels with such intensity or the person who is uncomfortable being around the intensity?

Luckily, for many of us imperfect humans we are socially conditioned on how to act, to conform, to "carry" ourselves in various circumstances. Luckily? I guess so..... Sometimes it seems like a huge burden to carry. Sometimes it seems like a whole lot of anal retentive bullshit to try to live within the parameters of what is copesectic. But, we can't go about our lives spilling forth big bubbles of the stuff. We do need to know the rules and know how to read the reasons behind the rolling waves of how we feel. Unpredictability breathes fear in the crowd of well controlled feeling people.

Feeling rules are truly complicated little spitfires and seem to be culturally driven. In my culture, we learn when we are allowed to laugh, cry, show anger, be fearful, express pain. There are specific rules to go by, and we begin to learn these dance steps in infancy. By the time you're the AGE of an adult, you better walk to the beat of the Drummer. Cross the line and you'll be put in your place. Watch out! If you screw it up, you're admonished..... sometimes its a look of disdain ..... other times it is in a form of being ignored or shunned. Its funny how uncomfortable one's emotions can "make" another person "feel" like others are looking at them with judgement.

The problem with these rules is that it only leaves a narrow path to manoeuver when in reality, life experiences go beyond these culturally imposed boundaries on a daily basis. Where do you go when you need to let go of your emotions? Inside your head? Or is there a place you can enter outside of yourself where an ominous sense of safety whispers to you that its alright to just be an emotional being?

The way I see it, when we find a place like this, we have found a sanctuary where acceptance is unconditional..... where love gives permission just to be. It is from this sacred place where we can gather the courage to step into a new experience knowing that discomfort should be a welcome friend.


Marja said...

Oh Dana hope all is fine. I can completely relate to it. I am not really fitting the constraints of society I cry in parent meetings, laugh in the middle of a supermarket etc, so lots of people have been nodding. There has been a shift though I think most know me know and have accepted it.
Aroha Marja

Gilly said...

Yes, we all need a place to let it all out. But some of us haven't got such a place.

What do we do then> We stuff it in our heads, that's what, and hope it shrinks.

The only time I have really, truly let my emotions out and stepped out of comfort zones, I chickened out and let myself be manipulated back again!

Back to stuffing it all away again.......

Awareness said...

Marja....things are terrific! I'm in a great job counselling at the College and I'm teaching a Crisis Counselling course one night a week. The homefront is busy but all is well. I wrote this piece for a couple of reasons..... I'm working in the field of feelings, hoping that I am providing that a bit of a sanctuary, and I am using it as a segue to my next soulspace piece. This posting came out of me first, like it needed to.
ps. your examples? I'm the same way. :)

Gilly....It rarely shrinks, which is why everyone has to find a few places to express those pent up feelings. Though I am the first to admit that there are really crappy counsellors out there and one HAS to be a consumer when choosing the right "fit" there are many counsellors who can provide this sanctuary.

For me, I have a room in my home which is mine alone (though is a guest room when we have company) and has a sense of peace that envelopes me whenever I walk in there. Writing is definitely an outlet, and I have a few friends I am comfortable letting my hair down with. The right church community can be highly supportive too. Exercise, meditation, yoga, are all "places" that take you to a sanctuary. Creative pursuits, hobbies, gardening are all ways of expressing..... It starts with a toe dip.....

BlazngScarlet said...

I have several such emotional outlets.
My biggest has always been to go sit at Niagara Falls and just let it all out as the water roars past me over the side and crashes into the rocks below.
The intensity of the water combined with my emotional release is so cleansing!

Then again, the majority of my outlets are in nature.
I have never been one to really share my deep feelings. It's not that I fear them, on the contrary, I welcome them.
I just prefer to wrap myself around them.
I'm a work in progress (as we all are), and I am learning to let people inside. Not just for the good stuff either.
The icky and painful as well.
For me, it's all connected.

What IS appropriate anyway?
I work with kids that are routinely "inappropriate", and honestly? I think they are far better adjusted than "mainstream" kids!
They face their emotions head on!

Awareness said...

Scarletina....I completely understand the whole cleansing feeling standing close to the Falls. Even the sound of it deafens the other noises. Nature for me is where I can clear my head but also as you put it so nicely, wrap myself around them.

Heck if I know what's appropriate. What I do know is that when I am the most outrageous and outspoken while standing up in front of a class, they seem to love it. Though if I tried to pull that at a social gathering, I think I would clear the room. :)