When my daughter was 8, she had the difficult task of navigating the divorce of her parents. Of watching them both become very human, messy, people trying to flow through grief while also trying hard to hold the space for her and her brother. She was above her pay grade, for sure, and still managed to find a lot of grace for the grief we were all navigating.
“mama let those feelings speak for thmselves”
One day, while I was meditating and crying quietly, as meditations often went at the point of life, I heard a piece of paper slide across the floor towards me. I opened my eyes and say her sweet handwriting on a slip of paper that said "mama let those feelings speak for thmselves" Needless to say this was the dam releasing that morning. To be given permission to grief, not to throttle back so the small people around me are more comfortable? It was an immense gift of compassion and space holding. From a wise-beyond-her-years 8 year old.
The lesson I learned that day was so important. The permission I received to let the emotion tell me what it needed to was profound. I could fully sit in front of grief and hug it tightly. Listen to everything it had to tell me and acknowledge it all.
What usually happens in these situations for me, and possibly for you, is I feel an emotion and I start searching around frantically for a story to match it. An old hurt, a new fear that justifies the emotion. I rarely just sat in the emotion itself. Just accepted it for what it was telling me was happening inside of me. I didn't let the emotion speak for itself, I inserted a story to explain it.
“I could fully sit in front of grief and hug it tightly. Listen to everything it had to tell me and acknowledge it all.”
When we let an emotion speak to us, without an old story in place to justify it, we can actually hear what the emotion is trying to tell us. "I feel a lot of grief right now." rather than "This always happens to me. I always get left behind and not considered." If we can just acknowledge the emotion, without the story, and without judgement, we can actually see how we truly feel. We can hear that feeling.
The times I am able to do this, when I don't search frantically in my mind for a story to justify the feeling, I notice that it fades so much more gently. Or maybe I flow out of the emotion more easily? Because instead of climbing onto that emotion and taking it for a metaphorical spin - "He says I'm over reacting, no one understands me!" - I can sit next to the emotion and instead say "Hey grief. I'm glad you felt safe enough to come out. I can sit here with you as long as you need."
The acknowledgement of my inner world means that the emotion doesn't have to get bigger and bigger until *someone* acknowledges it. With a hug or a fight, our emotions won't stop until they are seen. Our artful inner tantrum, full of old stories, is often just an emotion asking to be seen, to be heard.