Sobbing your guts out in public
Ok so when I say sobbing ‘your’ guts out in public….it’s a little more personal than that. I mean my guts of course. In starbucks. A busy starbucks. In the middle of the day. And not one of the subtle tiny-lines-of-tears-only-seen-up-close type of crying. I really went for it.
In general we aren’t all that great at openly expressing any of the emotions we see as negative. Joy and happiness – yay, everyone wants to see that! Anger, hurt, sadness, fear, tears? No no, that stuff we like to hide away…and be ‘strong’…and not let everyone see. It can make us uncomfortable and can make others uncomfortable. And after a death can, unfortunately, be no exception. ’Be strong’ people say. ‘Be strong for your mum’, ‘be strong for the kids’. I’ve asked it before and I’ll ask it again: what the heck is strong about holding in your emotion, bottling it up, be afraid to experience it or to let others see it? It usually takes more strength to show it and experience it than it does to hold it in.
And I say this as someone who can be a bit ‘strong’ at times and was congratulated for my strength and bravery during the deaths in my life. I can assure you, the holding in of my emotion in general, not just around that period of my life, was not born from strength, but from fear. Fear of what others would think, fear of looking like a nut or a wimp, fear of what it might feel like if I really let it just happen.
But here is the the thing. Your emotions will build up if you don’t let them out. Holding them in is not strong. It is emotional constipation. And just like if you tried to hold in what the bowel and bladder need to let out (super toxic for the body and either you’ll get really sick or the body will force you to release it, perhaps not at the best time either – ick) so too do you need to let your emotions out, whatever they may be. Or they will build up and cause physical or emotional stress OR they may just fly out at the person who bumps you accidentally when sitting down next to you at a restaurant.
Sooooo a couple of days ago I was sitting in starbucks, having a tea, and doing some work. Then I took a phone call that I found incredibly challenging. As I got off the phone I felt my emotions start to overwhelm me and my instinct was to swallow them. Well, not his time. I sat and let it happen. I started crying. My face got all red, tears pouring down my cheeks. I wasn’t facing a wall and I didn’t try to hide my face. Granted I wasn’t sobbing out loud….but had you glanced at me from across the room you would have seen it. And a strange thing happened. Nothing. Nobody changed tables to get away. Starbucks didn’t call the police to have me escorted out. There wasn’t a picture of my blotchy wet face in the paper that night.
Were the people around me uncomfortable? It looked like it.
Was I uncomfortable? You bet I was. Did I feel like a big baby? Yes.
Did it really matter? Nope.
Was ‘not looking daft in front of others’ more important than my own health and wellbeing? No bloody way.
I felt so much better for getting it out.
Whether you have had a death recently or it is some other kind of emotion or other reason, emotional intelligence be damned. The rule applies: better out than in.
Now, while releasing emotions is not the path to true change after a death, it is still crucial to your health and well-being.
Try it. It helps. It’s good for you. And it’s honest. And the world needs more of that.
With lots of love,
P.S. I hope you know how much I love hearing from you so feel free to share whatever you might like below in the comments, or write to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org