“I’m okay as long as I don’t think about it.”
“But that doesn’t mean you should ignore it.”
This was a wonderful exchange I had with my brother. I was feeling stressed about something but concluded I was fine coping as long as I kept my mind off it.
But that doesn’t mean you should ignore it.
He was right. Ignoring it isn’t going to help. I should at least acknowledge what’s going on, even if I can’t do anything about it currently.
It reminded me of the importance of processing our thoughts and feelings. Too often, we push them aside and, despite being aware of them, never really think about them. It’s important to go through the motions of thinking over them, feeling the emotions – get angry, get upset – before finally reaching the light at the end of the tunnel.
Modern life means we’re not always free to fully feel our emotions – such as at school, work or just generally outside of our homes – and so we’re forced to hold ourselves together until we find a better time. But on the days when we can’t hold it together and we break – I believe there is no shame in that. It’s just our mind naturally processing as it needs to. It indicates you’ve held it together a little too long.
There’s definitely a balance that comes with this. While it’s unhealthy to bury our emotions away, it’s not necessarily any more helpful to obsessively think over them either. And I suppose that’s what we find most difficult. How much of this ‘thinking it over’ is too much? How do we know?
I can’t think of a good answer to that one. Even if I could, my answer would probably be different to yours. Again, I think it just comes naturally. Processing our thoughts is helpful to us… until we’ve finished. For me, once I’ve examined every little branch of thought, properly understood what it is I’m feeling, why I’m feeling it and what I can do about it – that’s when I know I’ve finished my ‘processing.’ I might come back to process more later but for now, I’ll try and do something else ease the stress it’s causing me. Or I might come up with a positive solution and try it. Sometimes it won’t work and then I’ll be back to do more processing. Every mind is different. We all work in different ways.
But the important thing is to allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling. Don’t dismiss them as unimportant. You might not even need to come up with a solution right now or even at all. Even writing them down on paper helps. Write them down honestly – and I mean completely honestly, don’t feel the need to lie to yourself. There is something very liberating about writing down your true, unfiltered feelings.
If you’re lucky enough to have people who you’re comfortable sharing your innermost worries with, then that truly is amazing. But always remember, try to be comfortable enough with yourself too.