[3-min read] I’m a little embarrassed about this. It’s not the sort of thing I would typically share. Up until the past couple years, I prided myself on my ability to function as if I had no problems. Nothing got to me – physically or emotionally. I could have a migraine, or someone could have unexpectedly betrayed me, or I could be spitting mad at myself for not handling a conversation like I wanted and you would never know. “I had no idea,” you would say when I told you. You wouldn’t believe the rage I’ve whistled my way through rather than exposing my feelings. Anyway, here it is: This evening I’m joining the Permission to Feel book club. Permission to Feel is the book. The only book. It’s a club about feeling. My imagined reaction of yours is a big reason Marc Brackett wrote the book. Ugh. Gross. You’ve turned into one of them.
Brackett knows I often view feelings as an inconvenience. Also, the last thing I want to seem is weak and definitely not vulnerable (bear with me, Brené Brown). It’s not like I haven’t felt anything lately. I’m feeling like I’ve felt way too much this past year, past four years, my life. In reality, I’ve spent more effort trying to shove aside anything but joy or positive enthusiasm, than I’ve allowed myself to feel something uncomfortable. It’s a family trait. I come by it honest. If I’m not feeling gratitude and optimism, I must be ungrateful and that, my friends, is shameful.
Can you imagine? Can you even imagine a life-long struggle with feeling guilt about not feeling only gratitude and optimism? About these past few years? About 2020? What a tragic waste of energy that guilt is. And it does take energy. It also leaves me susceptible to feeling what everyone else is feeling, which means not feeling what I’m feeling and letting the mood of the collective bring me down when I’m not. These days, what precious moments are those when I’m not feeling down.
I’m several chapters into the book and a great point it makes is that simply labeling our feelings legitimizes them. It gives us permission to feel them – hello, book title! The act of giving ourselves permission to feel our feelings can be a tremendous unburdening.
I think it’s already working. Sure, some global things feel like they’re slowly changing for the better. That and this feeling experiment are what I’m crediting for how I’ve recently, occasionally, spontaneously burst into song indoors and out. (Apologies to the neighbors. A singing voice is not my gift.) I’ve had a couple giggle fits. Allowing myself to feel authentically means feeling the bad and the good richly. So yeah, I’m doing this feely book club thing. Judge me if you must.