By Laura Vann
Much of the time it is easier to avoid than to feel. In the busy, performance-driven society that we live in, it seems counter-intuitive to slow down, allow yourself to feel, and ask yourself what you need. Oftentimes, this feels time consuming and unnecessary. Wouldn’t it just be easier if I avoided those frustrated, lonely, hurt feelings and busy myself with work? I have a huge to-do list – maybe I should pour my energy into that instead?
Growing up in an era filled with pressure to succeed and be nearly perfect, showing emotions somehow translated itself into showing weakness. If I can just keep my feelings to myself and pretend on the outside that I have it all together, then maybe I can fool myself into thinking that I’m fine on the inside.
If you are like me, this can work – often for a very long time. But eventually the time comes when the emotions that you have been brushing under the rug begin making a mess. Or maybe there has been a time when an event occurs that seems altogether larger than life itself, such as a death, divorce, job loss, identity crisis, or illness, and avoidance quits working. You begin to find yourself hiding your tears when triggered by an upsetting movie or conversation with a friend. You think, if I really express how I’m feeling, I might throw up or pass out. If I really show others that I don’t have it all together, then I am weak and a disappointment to myself and everyone else that is important in my life. You feel like a phony and that if you show your “real self” no one will like you.
It is a daily struggle to really feel my emotions and accept myself as I am – all of my flaws included. However, I have come to realize that the more I allow myself to feel, the more satisfied I am in my life and the more honest and rewarding my relationships have become. Somewhere in my life journey I realized that, in fact, I was fooling no one. The important people in my life knew my shortcomings and loved me anyway. I have become thankful for my flaws because they allow me to be real, to connect to others, and to humble myself. I am not exempt from feeling on a daily basis or experiencing difficulties in life. I am human. I feel. And that is okay.
Do you sometimes find yourself avoiding your feelings or refraining from confronting someone because it’s just easier to “let it go?” Has this avoidance led you to feel empty on the inside or wonder who you have become? Are you struggling to accept yourself for who you are? The therapists at Atlanta Counseling Center are here to come alongside you and walk with you through your pain and slowly help you face those feelings that have been avoided for so long.