The illustration by Aaron Clode.
Honesty begins with ourselves. Not to satisfy those around us or society’s demands, but to give ourselves room to rest in our sacred space, the body. No matter what everyone around us thinks about the way we deal with the ups and downs of life, only we know what moves within our emotions and thoughts. For me personally, the key to a harmonious life lies in precisely creating a balance between everything that moves within me. I am notoriously against what is called “positivism”. It does not mean that I worship negativity, but I am convinced that we as humans are too different to benefit from a single model. What works for some doesn’t necessarily work for others. When we are depressed, anxious, and full of worries, it helps us very little to hear well-meaning advice like:
“You need to start thinking positively, stop being anxious,” or ” you worry too much.”
There is certainly something good in all that advice: a reminder that we should not forget that the good, bright and light emotions are also there and that we deserve to feel good.
Only we humans are not machines. Had we been created as machines, we would certainly have an on / off button controlling our entire system. In a human body, it takes more effort to turn off all our feelings, and if we manage what will we turn into? A robot working on autopilot? What will remain of the human in us?
Jennifer Witherspoon, a beautiful lady I met during my journey in South America, told me she loved being human just because of our ability to think and feel, whether it was good, light, happy, or painful and heavy emotions. The fact that we have the ability to feel is amazing, was her point.
Last autumn I worked at a primary school. During a game in the schoolyard, one of the girls fell and hurt herself. I tried to comfort her and noticed she was holding her breath. Most likely because of the pain she felt. I reminded her to breathe deeply with her stomach and told her how important it was to breathe. I made a point that when we are afraid or are in pain we usually forget to breath deep with our bellies.
Ironically, it belongs to the story that while she began to focus on her breath, her sweet friend came with these well-meaning words; “You must also remember to bite your teeth together. That is what my Mom and Dad say to me. ” The fact that parents can still in 2018 have a mindset like this in the upbringing of their children, turned me to a silent listener in the schoolyard. It is said that parents know the best for their children. I am firmly convinced that most parents love their children high above everything on earth, and of course, they want the best for their kids, but if parents just carry on with what they have been taught, without reflecting on it, then what? Is it still the best for the kids?
Imagine if children had been taught to explore their emotions at an early age. That we as adults could have given them this tool. Imagine if we were taught them how to become friends with their emotions and to allow them to feel the pain, anger, sadness, and jealousy, without defining them as good or unacceptable just to fit into the norms of society. I believe that if we were taught to explore our emotions, being curious about them, learn to express them without reacting to them, we might eventually create more quality in our lives.
Perhaps it would contribute to removing the feeling of shame, the grip it has on us and the unacceptable feelings.
During Christmas 2018 there was a lot of focus on loneliness in Norway. Several have expressed that loneliness is a shameful theme. Think, in addition to feeling lonely, also feeling shame? I think shame is very often associated with unacceptable feelings and thoughts. What do you think?