We live in a world that has conditioned us into always being on the move. Work, academics, family life, etc, it is expected of us to stay on top of our obligations, and at times is frowned upon if we fail to do so.
This societal norm allows for us to successfully reach our personal goals, take care of our families, and obtain accolades by certain ages, creating a legacy for each individual. However, while the prior can be viewed as positive, such a norm also robs us as humans the deserved opportunity to become present within our bodies and emotions, due to the process of doing potentially becoming too much of a distraction from our outside duties.
Providing an emphasis on being emotionally present may be viewed by some as a distraction to other obligations, due to the complexity of the feelings experienced, a lack of understanding regarding where these emotions are coming from, and attempts (honestly, sometimes failures) to understand why they even exist. With the societal pressure of “always being on the-go,” and lacking the time to emotionally check in with ourselves, as a community we have unintentionally created a culture where we automatically search for solutions or short term fixes (mainly negative coping mechanisms) as a means to solve our problems quickly, rather than feeling the raw emotions bubbling underneath the surface. Strategizing various ways to momentarily fix the pain underneath, such as utilizing substances, compulsive eating, forcing oneself into multiple activities, pushing emotions to the side, etc, may become instinctual actions taken once reaching young adulthood. Unfortunately, these quick fixes fail to heal us for long periods of time. Rather, they only assist in placing our emotions on hold until they become too much to bare.
By automatically adjusting our time and energy into quickly solving our struggles, or disregarding personal inconveniences, the norm of harming ourselves by not allowing our bodies the agency to feel continues.
What could possibly happen, if we allowed ourselves to be emotionally still?
You may have heard the term “Be Still” before, meaning to refrain from controlling the circumstances around you and having faith that God will lead the way. Yes, in my opinion the spiritual meaning on the quote has proven to be true, but I also believe this saying can be implemented when speaking about our mental health.
Being still, emotionally, means to fight back against outside distractions, fighting back against unproductive coping mechanisms, facing your emotions head on. It means to be vulnerable. It means to be emotionally honest. It means to soak within your pool of emotions without regret. The concept may sound ridiculous, weak, or stupid, but is highly recommended by mental health professionals. You’ll be surprised by the load of sorrow, anger, shame, guilt, bitterness, etc, fighting to be released from your body after harboring these emotions for days, months, or years.
Emotional stillness is terrifying, because it requires us to become emotionally naked for it to work properly. Allowing our emotions to overflow forces us to decrease the environmental, habitual, and/or relational distractions we have utilized as coping mechanisms, resulting in seeing ourselves passed the rose colored glasses we’ve created. Rather than relying on logic or action, we have to allow our bodies weep, letting our feelings and thoughts to flow from our brains, through our bloodstream, to the tips of our fingers, to receive an honest answer regarding what may be wrong with us, and to detect exactly what event has been causing us such distress.
The goal of emotional stillness is not exactly ruminating on these emotions for excessive periods of time without reaching out for professional help. However, feeling them nonetheless, may be the very step needed to further understand your emotional reactions to present or past events, and may be a clue into what you must do next in order to truly heal.
Sometimes, all you can do is sit in your discomfort
Without attempting to cover up, fix, or distract yourself from the pain
And truth be told,
You have the human right to feel
You have the human right to be emotionally still.