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On Growth : "I Want To Be Comfortable With All My Emotions" - kale & cigarettes
On Growth : “I Want To Be Comfortable With All My Emotions”

On Growth : “I Want To Be Comfortable With All My Emotions”

11.13.20 – 4:27PM. Living room chair

Like any sensitive person, I feel the entire range of the emotional spectrum from one moment to the next. I have spent most of my time trying to find ways to avoid things that don’t make me feel good. I am not typically an accepting person.

I have started doing a cold plunge once a day. I bought a galvanized tub from Home Depot (I know I should be shopping at Lowe’s but I’m not that good) while there getting paint. 

I’ve been plunging at 6AM right when I woke up. It’s rough but everything is more personal in the morning and it’s easier to feel like the way I’m spending my time actually matters. 

No matter what the activity, the emotions are always ranging.

There are electric outbursts of joy. Kitchen dancing. Teeth clenching. Jowly face shaking. 

There are nights holding a pillow remembering what it feels like to lie with another body and feel safe. 

I am often on top of the world. Then I am stuck sideways on the couch, knees in chest, ready to abandon all the things I wanted to do seconds ago because they feel too overwhelming. 

I can be flowing and then I can be paralyzed. Without even a brush of air shifting into my environment. 

This has become exhausting. Powerless. I want to be okay with all of my emotions. 

Charlie asked me a question the other day. It was one I had been thinking about because I always make a wish at 11:11.

“What do you want?” he asked.

“To be unburdened,” I said. This was my new thing.

As predicted, it wasn’t specific enough for Charlie.

“What does that mean? Unburdened from what?”

“From liking it so much when I’m happy and hating it so much when I’m not. From having such strong preferences.” 

“To be okay with all of your emotions?”

“Yes.”

The process of change is long and grueling. But I see no better way to spend our time.

I sit down on my bench – when I wake up or before I go to sleep – and I take 3 deep breaths. I do a few rounds of sounding, which is like an Aum but deeper. It’s not supposed to sound pretty. You’re supposed to feel it everywhere. Then I list out the things that have happened recently that were good. I make a few statements about myself. For me, that’s “I am kind,” “I am patient,” “I am understanding.” Which, if you know me, I have not often been tagged with these descriptors. A few more deep breaths.

Crazy how we can change over time. Little bricks stacking, building a new person.

Now it feels like I am watching things happen. I’m here in my body but there is a second sense above me that is registering from a more neutral place. 

Kirk, this is sadness. It’s not your favorite but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. And just a reminder, it passes. 

Or…

Hey, buddy. This is good. Stay with this for a second and let it sink in. Enjoy this.

I read once that an emotion only lasts 90 seconds in the body. It’s our obsession with the feeling that keeps it around longer. 

Why do we let ourselves suffer?

I wasn’t ready to accept how much I was responsible for my feelings. It was convenient to point to things that were wrong with other people to explain why I was so angry. I’ve always been afraid of losing my edge. Thinking that if I was more positive in my thoughts than I would lose who I was or become boring. 

I’ve never felt more interesting in my life.

Charlie says that bad feelings always follow bad thoughts. He tells me to pay attention to what I’m thinking about more often. 

I like to catalogue. To prove things so I can understand without a doubt. 

My brain works like a computer scanning for irregularities. Lies, insecurities, inconsistent behavior. I never miss them and it’s unmanageable in a relationship. I’m treating this like a new program. Cataloguing all the good instead. Scanning for moments that meant something. Letting myself smile. Not killing the joy because I’m afraid it isn’t real.  

That has been my approach to being more holistic in my analysis of my life. I don’t practice thankfulness so I can stare into your eyes for 5 minutes like a Scientologist. I practice so I can measure the amount of good in my life and weigh that against the amount of bad. I want evidence to hold against my negative thoughts and say, What you’re saying right now can’t be true because I have all of these things that say otherwise. 

I could make 10 green lights on the way into work and get stopped by 1 red. I curse (literally) the red but I never thank the greens. 

Thanking the greens changes everything. 

The way I’ve constructed my “reality” is entirely inaccurate. I believe NLP people call it storytelling. My focus is usually impartial and my feelings result from long sequences of misplaced thoughts. When I believe the stories I am telling myself then I suffer. Without fail.

I am immensely lucky. My life is objectively good. I have far more to be thankful for than I have to be sad about. But when I let myself hover over the negative it can take entire weeks away from me. 

When a good moment appears I tend to brush it away as something irregular. Only negative things can be true. And good things are somehow temporary and ready to be taken away at any moment. 

The world is both a good and bad place. I get to decide. And for some, that is too much. So they might choose the bad. It’s safe, more familiar, more comfortable. It’s what their parents did. I’ve spent my entire life trying to prove that the world is bad so I would have reasons to justify my fears and judgment of others. 

I’m trying to apply this learning to relationships. The final frontier. The hardest endeavor we can ever encounter – opening ourselves up to others in a significant and meaningful way. 

It’s always me.

What are all the good qualities of the people in my life? Let me inventory those. To build a protective layer against my natural tendency to judge when I notice something wrong. A sea of good.

Eventually, I’ll be interested in connecting with another person again. But I’m not in a hurry. I’m actually enjoying myself. 

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