Lately, I’m finding myself on the precipice of a tipping point.
Ask me how I feel on a given day, and you’ll notice my response tends to change by the hour. One can only assume that this capricious attitude is natural considering the long-term suppression of every emotion under the sun during The Lost Year ™.
On the one hand, it’s impressive how some of our best work is only produced under pressure. It’s certainly not ideal, but in hindsight, a wonder to witness not only the wide array of projects and creative abilities, but knowing the mental conditions that coexisted while each of these things manifested.
As they say, “pressure can either burst pipes or make diamonds.”
I’ve been on a personal journey for a couple of years now. Self-help, identity exploration, shadow work, stoicism, whatever the colloquialism may be. The greatest shift and the one I’m most proud of, is not visible to the naked eye. It is the transition towards a growth mindset, a more resilient self, and its most significant impact can only be known either in confrontation of strenuous situations, a repeat matter, or after the fact.
At the risk of talking in circles, what I mean to say is, one can only notice the difference in oneself over time, in character and judgment, when faced with situations that might have previously unhinged you, or in the face of foreign yet equally terrifying matters in which the “right” thing to do is a gamble (read: productivity in the face of a global pandemic.)
I’ve practiced becoming aware of and observing my thought patterns as they march along their well-worn footpaths (in spite of my feeble admonitions to redirect their course of action) and my ruminating tendencies to the point of hyperconsciousness; at my worst, I found myself constantly nitpicking every single action I took. You can imagine how agonizing it is to overanalyze each of your minute behaviors.
Why did I eat this donut after a workout? What does this say about me? Was I right all along, in that I can never change who I am? Why does my brain insist on clinging to this so-called ‘identity’, who it thinks I am, even though this perception is only the sum total of my life experiences? Why do I believe I can change? Why am I watching this Netflix show with subtitles? Why can’t I just keep up without them? Why did I yell at my sister yesterday? I thought I was supposed to be in control of my emotions? Am I really a calm person? Am I lying to myself? Do I even know who I am?
Well. Stream of consciousness aside, this journey of mine has not been an easy one. But like most things that you set out to learn for the first time, it takes a period of trial and error before you are able to feel somewhat confident that you’re headed in the right direction.
I raise this concept because I’ve been wondering what to do with anger, a natural emotion. We all feel it, and we’re well aware of what happens when a cacophony of stifled emotions bursts at the seams. The results are usually not pretty, but much like a good cry, the sense of physical relief that your body experiences once the emotions are released is kinda worth it.
As someone who is not typically prone to fits of rage or angry outbursts, I’ve been wondering what to do with myself when it comes to healthy channels for relief. Some say it’s exercise, and while a quick jog certainly can do wonders to reset your mind or at least alleviate the burden of a painful emotion, I find that still it remains. Perhaps a bit quieter than it was a little earlier, but awaiting its return to full glory.
I have a problem with internalizing my emotions. A huge problem, really; one that long preceded this pandemic, in which internalizing our feelings is normal because hell, we’re all in this together (a shred of sarcasm here.) I’ve come to realize that the ways in which I’ve dealt with particularly trying experiences in the last year are not necessarily healthy, at least not from a personal standpoint. In several instances, I found myself rationalizing my choice of response to situations outside of my control; hey, at least I’m not yelling. At least I can control my emotions.
This is true on the external, for the most part at least, and prevents the need for damage control. But since every action bears a consequence, it begs the question: what sort of destruction is this suppression of feeling doing to the delicate linings of mind, body and soul?
Of course, this is worst case scenario thinking, a mindset that I am all-too familiar with. Perhaps there is some broader lesson in all this that I have yet to learn; if that is the case, I eagerly await the wisdom that only time and experience can bequeath.