If you’ve taken a class with me lately then you probably know I recently read and reread (and even re-reread) Glennon Doyle’s newest book, Untamed. Although I’ve underlined nearly every other sentence in the book, this is the one that struck me in a way that I can’t stop thinking about:
“I did not know that I was supposed to feel everything. I thought I was supposed to feel happy. I thought that happy was for feeling and that pain was for fixing and numbing and deflecting and hiding and ignoring.”
I think this idea made such an impact on me because it reflects not only what I do with my own emotions but also the way I parent Freida. For example, every time that I have felt frustrated and disappointed over what this pandemic has done to the studio, I have told myself to suck it up. “Get over it, put a smile on your face and move on.” I also realized that I have never once asked Freida, “What can we do so you’re not so happy anymore?” But anytime she is sad my first question is, “How can we take away your sadness?”
Fast forward to our most recent weekend of teacher training when my awesome friend and yoga teacher, Lizz Cohoon, came to work with us and said something else about emotions that I have thought and rethought and (definitely re-rethought) about. “Feelings and emotions are our soul’s language.” In other words, I have a soul and I also have a physical self. The bridge between these two parts of me are my emotions. If that’s the case (which I most definitely believe it is) then I’m ignoring A LOT of what my soul is trying to tell me by only feeling the “good” stuff and blocking out everything else. Equally as troubling, I’m parenting Freida to live in the exact same way.
Since this a-ha moment, I’ve been doing some real life experiments. The day after teacher training, I was drained and felt like I had nothing left. My automatic response – grab the biggest coffee with all the espresso shots, forget about being tired and get to work. My new chosen response – put my phone away inside the house, grab a book and lay outside in my backyard to do absolutely nothing for a few hours. Another experiment – Freida walked out of school on the verge of tears because her best friend ignored her and played with the older kids on the playground. My normal response – “Well forget about that and tell me about what happy things did happen today. And while doing that, here are some fruit snacks. Eat allll the fruit snacks.” =) My new chosen response – tell me about how you felt when that happened.
My observations so far: I think I feared being in those “negative” feelings would make them never go away. If I let myself feel tired or let Freida feel sad, then we will just wallow there forever. Thus far, however, that’s not at all the case. Instead of feeling tired and drained for 3 days trying to push through, I felt tired, I rested without guilt and I recovered. Instead of Freida being on the verge of tears for the entire day pushing them down, she had a good cry, she talked about it and she moved on to play Barbies at home. Unlike I had feared, the emotions didn’t suck Freida or I into a spiral of negativity.
I’m not writing to say feeling pain is easy or no big deal, but I am writing to say that I don’t think it is going to destroy me and I think the part of my soul that I haven’t been listening to has some really important things to teach me. So here’s my commitment to my soul to start listening to it fully and completely, and also an invitation to you to start hearing what your soul is trying to tell you – all of the things it’s trying to tell you.