It's okay to get emotional!
I’ve noticed a trend lately. Here’s what happens: A friend is telling me about something going on in her life, and she gets emotional while telling it, and then she dismisses her emotion as being the product of a hormonal surge or a sleepless night or something-or-other.
I do it too.
It occurs to me that we seem to think we need some sort of biological explanation for our emotions. As if being a human being with feelings is not a sufficient explanation.
Why do we do that?
I have a couple theories.
First, I think we feel vulnerable and ashamed of our vulnerability. Our emotions reveal something about us, and whenever we reveal another layer of our psyche to another person it feels really, really vulnerable.
I don’t want you to know that this particular issue upsets me that much because if I am that upset then I must not be very strong (or I must care about that more than I thought); and I am ashamed that I am not stronger (or that I care too much) and I certainly don’t want other people to know about something I am ashamed about.
Of course, I’m not thinking that clearly in the moment. In the moment I am just surprised by my emotion so I explain it you - and to myself - as the product of my hormones.
Second, I think we are often afraid of our own emotions. Better to deny they exist, or explain them away as chemical imbalances, than to actually face them and uncover what they may be pointing to. We’re afraid of feeling our feelings because once we start feeling, what if we can’t stop? What if we are overwhelmed by our feelings? What if feeling our feelings is the short road to a breakdown? What happens then?
Listen. Maybe instead of breaking down we could actually be breaking open. Maybe we need to feel those feelings because they lead us to a place of discovery. Maybe we need to unearth a part of ourselves that is tender and vulnerable, yes, but also sensitive and beautiful and wise.
May I give us all a challenge? Let’s challenge ourselves to stop dismissing our emotions as the by-products of hormones. Even when our emotions are legitimately driven by our hormones, the reality is that they can still be signposts pointing us toward something true about ourselves. Something that we need to know. Something that is worth letting someone else know about us.
So when that friend gets tears in her eyes and her voice starts to shake and she begins to explain that she must be hormonal right now, would you gently stop her and look her in the eye and say, “It’s okay to have feelings about this. I love that you have a tender heart. You can trust me with your feelings.”
And maybe, just maybe, we can let our hormones off the hook and let ourselves be a little more human.
It's okay to get emotional.