Don’t Build an Emotional Dam

We are emotional creatures and sometimes those emotions get the better of us.

Anger, passion, fear, melancholy are just a few of the many emotions that can course through our veins at any given moment to influence our words, thoughts and actions. Though emotions can be powerful and persuasive it is important to remember that they are also temporary.

I am sometimes afflicted by negative emotions that can lead to anxiety and depression. One of the tools I use to combat both is to remind myself that the moment will pass if I just allow it; only when I cling to the emotions do I become trapped and they evolve into feelings. Adversely, ignoring an emotional bombardment only allows it to fester, like a wound left unattended, eventually it will demand attention, often at the most inconvenient time.

When I am feeling anxious due to a storm or a trip, I lightly touch upon the fear with my mind, acknowledging its presence, and then I proceed to direct my attention to other things such as the fidget spinner in my hand, scenery outside the window, or hashing out a story in my head. Though the disquiet of the moment still gnaws at me, the distraction grabs the attention of my mind, allowing the moment and emotion to pass instead of settling in for a stay, feeding the anxiety.

Our society seems to encourage drama though, and while we preach tranquility and peace, those with the “issues” appear to remain in the spotlight. The girl that has the gossip in school is sought out for news, the one that sits on the sideline nursing an injury is flocked by well-wishers. It can be easy to slip into a habit of utilizing negative emotions to fill the loneliness or other absentees in our life, creating a dangerous cycle of dependency in which emotions become the deciding factor for our actions.

I recall, many years ago, sitting my then young children down to break the news to them that their father and I were divorcing. To my astonishment my youngest daughter expressed her delight, explaining that now she had something to tell her friends. I was stunned and of course took extra time to ensure she actually understood what I was talking about.

I can’t help but wonder what society is teaching the younger generation that sad situations become a means for social elevation. Are we breeding this need for drama in order to feel like somebody? Are we teaching children that instead of allowing the moment to pass, we should cling to it simply for the sake of having something to talk about? I have often heard the dangers of social media creating false “perfection and happiness” how the pictures don’t reveal the truth, etc. which can escalate anxiety and depression but could it also breed false negatives as well in that it becomes a platform to seek sympathy to compensate for our loneliness? And it is not just our young that a trending this way, too many adults find that virtual platforms are a place to vent their frustrations with life. Why is this?

The pandemic is said to cause increased depression and anxiety due to lack of interaction and increased isolation, but if we explore the answers to the questions presented above, I fear that one might find that human beings have been feeling isolated and distanced for a very long time now, thus why social media was created to begin with. But that is a topic for another time. Less I get off topic, let me digress back to the subject of our emotions….

The point I’m trying to make is that emotions are a part of being alive, being human. They are meant to be fluid and free flowing like a rive, holding on to any one emotion creates a dam with very weak supports, eventually it will burst. Be it fear that leads to anxiety or happiness that can lead to depression, it all must be allowed to pass through as an excess of anything is not good. It is in the emotional ups and downs that we can appreciate the highs of life and know that the low points do not last forever. It is in experiencing the emotions that we know we are truly living.

-Pax tibi

Additional Reading:

Emotional Acceptance
Face Your Feelings
Learning to Observe and Accept your Emotions
The Difference Between Emotions and Feelings
Four Ways Happiness can Hurt You


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s