I've always felt emotions very strong and for much of my life, I've disliked this part about myself. Overall, I think I feel a more "bleak", "empty" or "depressive" state compared to others. (That being said, the more I work with people and the more open conversation I have with friends and family, my view is changing).
I remember in high school and university, I would look around and think, how is everyone else enjoying things so easily? How are they socializing and maintaining relationships in a way that seems effortless? This would really bother me and for awhile, I would try to be like them and deny my actual state.
It took a few years to realize the hard truth that denying your feelings and your natural state of being DOES NOT WORK. It was almost like, the more I would try to deny my authentic self or to be like others, the more I'd go down a path not actually meant for me ... which ultimately leads to more pain.
The more reading on depression and spirituality I do, the more understanding and comfort I feel. (Again, my mom says "don't you want to read something other than self-help ...maybe a nice novel or something?") 😂 You should see my book shelf . But no mom, I don't...can barely read 5 pages of a "nice" novel. As I said, the more reading I do, the better.
One of my favourite books on my shelf is 'Healing Through the Dark Emotions' by Miriam Greenspan. She talks about how our culture is emotion-phobic and that often, the dark emotions of sadness, fear, anger, grief and guilt are viewed as weak and shameful. When we're kids, we're often told not to be sad or we're told to "toughen up!". At work, it's looked at as weak when we feel or break down or show any emotion related to stress or sad truths; let's face it, many of our social systems are sadly inadequate and hold a lot of sad truths (for the record, I'm also aware of the good that exists and the kind hearts working towards goodness - it's not all "bad" in my mind).
But back to emotion-phobia....I've had people laugh at me because I'm sensitive and feel a lot... ... doesn't really help the guilt, shame and embarrassment I already feel.
Healing Through the Dark Emotions explains that we have to embrace and feel the dark emotions otherwise, they can become toxic. When we numb or deny the dark emotions, this is when, over time, they can grow into greater states of depression, anxiety, addiction, abuse and/or violence.
Other books that have helped me understand the dark emotions and have provided a sense of a shared experience include 'A New Earth' by @eckharttolle , 'From Tears to Triumph' by @mariannewilliamson and an e-book called 'Darkness before Dawn' that I got through @Sounds True. This e-book describes how states of depression and grief are often messages from our spirit or soul...I'm not going all hokey-pokey spiritual...just hear me out. The book explains that when we feel dark emotions, it's often because of incongruencies with how we're living, how we actually feel about things, etc. They describe depression as more of a spiritual calling versus a diagnosable, white coat "illness" ...and this could open a rant about the DSM-5 (the manual for diagnosis of mental illnesses for psychiatrists)... for example some diagnoses include 'Adjustment Disorder'...oh you're having trouble adjusting to something that's maybe hard or not sitting well in your life ... let's call it a "disorder" or 'Depressive Disorder from a Medical Condition"...sorry, but do we have to call it a disorder when someone is grieving that they have cancer?!) [End of DSM-5 rant 😂]
These books also touch on how our dark emotions are connected to larger global currents and society as a whole. We are not solo beings on solo journeys. We are all connected and as a whole, the world struggles and this lives within each person. It doesn't take much to realize this - just look at current global events, the rate of divorce, the ever increasing rate of mental health difficulties in children...etc. etc. And this is where my struggles with distracting ourselves through our behaviours such as alcohol, partying, work, quick-fixes, etc. comes in (again though, I know life is also to be enjoyed and one should find a balance with this and be gentle and kind with allowing pleasurable experiences and sharing your life with others...this is a balance I always struggle to be ok with, and am still working on).
These books also talk about "generational depression" and how the struggles and lived experiences of our ancestors get passed down to us. This makes sense then as to why depression, anxiety, addiction problems are often seen across generations...which is also part of the DNA vs. environment debate (is it passed through genes or is it passed through environment?)...and/or could it passed through the spirit and the soul?
Long and short of this is... ... don't be afraid of the dark emotions. Dark emotions are our teachers and our guides and one can learn an immense amount through feeling and embracing them. When someone expresses "dark emotions" to you, try not to look at it as weak or embarrassing. Try not to jump to "this person is so emotional", "they're not fit for this and that" or talk to others about them; their emotions are a display of what they're struggling with and feeling on the inside.
And lastly, if you feel like you're one that feels and experiences these dark emotions more frequently than others, don't worry, you're not alone and you can actually find peace in exploring and expressing your truths.
...Who knew so many thoughts could be behind a simple poem 😉
**Side note - I'm in the process of updating my blog as my posts from the past 4 years got deleted on my old site ...so, slowly re-adding them.