Stop, look, listen to your heart and hear what it says — Tara Aisida
I sat with a friend some time back, she had been ill and was a bit disoriented, I spent some hours with her and discovered a slightly different angle to her than I knew. My friend is by nature a bit reserved and hardly speaks about herself as she is rather busy but during this period she spoke incessantly. It was as if she had a need to unburden her heart and clear out her mind. She said so many things, some I had an inkling about but a lot that I didn’t know. She spoke freely without shame or guilt, not trying to impress or depress me but letting out all that was on her mind.
The mind is a beautiful and frightening thing. I dare say that man has not fully discovered its powers. There are things that we feel or think about people and situations that don’t come out to the open because we are able to filter what is appropriate in the context of timing and audience. When our filters or social conditioning are removed, the truth about how we feel or think comes out and that was what happened to my friend. Having no filters, she poured her heart out and I must say it was quite a revelation.
The revelation was not quite what she said, but what I took from the incident.It made me reflect deeply and think about what would come out of my heart if my guard was lowered and my filters removed. I knew for sure that some of the things I would say about people that I knew and situations I was in would make me embarrassed and ashamed of myself when they would be retold to me. I also knew that there were some things I would be happy I said because I had harbored them in my mind but couldn’t say them because I didn’t know how to say them, or the people involved were not people I could talk freely to.
All in all, the incident affirmed the following things :
- What happens to us affects us much more than we think or believe. The truth is that everything that happens to us affects us, the effects of some are negligible, whilst the others are astronomical. I will liken it to a tree that is being cut down. The first swing of the axe makes a little impact on the tree and though it weakens it a tiny bit, it does not sway it let alone topple it. Subsequent swings do more harm than the first swing and a combination of all of them topple the tree. A lot of us don’t understand that seemingly small things like the insult a danfo driver who doesn’t even know us, hurls at us, can trigger deep emotions within us if said at a vulnerable period in our lives as our mind can use it to affirm negative thoughts within us.
- Repressed emotions do not do us any good. Repressed emotions are emotions that we do not process either because we are afraid of what we will discover about ourselves or because of statements we have grown up with such as -Keep a stiff upper lip, men don’t cry, don’t show them it’s paining you. I am convinced that a lot of us have repressed emotions. We have emotions that have followed us from childhood when we were told to be seen and not heard. We have emotions we unconsciously suppress because we don’t know how to deal with them. The truth is that whether repressed or suppressed our feelings about ourselves, other people and events that have happened to us always remain and can control us subconsciously whether or not we know or even acknowledge them.
- The death of people we know, especially our loved ones must be properly acknowledged, managed and dealt with appropriately. I say this because most Nigerians are religious and we tend to believe that we are spiritually strong and don’t need a period to mourn or grieve our losses. We Christians in particular, spiritualize death as a natural event which will happen ( and yes I know it is a spiritual power), but death and the manner of it always demystifies us and our understanding of life and we need to look at it deeply to make sense of it in our own ways.
- That spiritual agility has little impact on our emotions. The strength we have in our understanding of God or our religion doesn’t necessarily transcend into our emotional life. The reasoning that it is unscriptural or haram to acknowledge negative emotions or situations is very dangerous and harmful and I don’t know how we got that mindset because many of the Bible greats e.g. Abraham, David, Job etc acknowledged their negative emotions and even Jesus wept. We need to take care of our emotional health as much as we do our spiritual health and physical bodies.
- Therapy is important. I used to scoff when I watched films and people went into therapy for what I thought were seemingly insignificant things but I am beginning to see that talking about what has happened to one in an attempt to make sense of it or our lives is very important for our overall well being. Talking is therapy just make sure you find your safe spaces.
My friend looked so put together outside, she is a high performer, and I wouldn’t have thought that she carried the burdens she was carrying or that they could be so important as to be lodged in her subconscious. She had indeed alluded to some of them and told me she had resolved some resentments that she had but apparently, they had affected her more than she knew or thought.
It got me thinking about what would come out of my heart if my filters were removed. Would I spew resentment, envy, sorrow, regret?
It made me wonder about my true feelings about people and events and whether I had truly resolved hurts or I had just let them go because there was really nothing I could do about them?
I reflected about what way my present was being subconsciously shaped by my past and found out I had emotional hang ups about certain topics and situations. Most importantly it made me resolve even more than ever not to hide from my emotions, to listen to what they show me about myself and others, to confront and resolve them. Yes, I am aware that there is a danger in wallowing in negative emotions but there is also a danger, maybe even greater danger when we repress them.
There is so much truth in the Indian proverb that says everyone is a house with four rooms, a physical, a mental, an emotional, and a spiritual and that most of us tend to live in one room most of the time but unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person. -Rumer Godden
I ask that this year spend some time with your emotions, air them out, look at the health of your mind, listen and let them tell you about yourself.