Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Claiming your emotions

If you want to make an emotion, thought or even a reoccurring dream go away you have to name it then you have to claim it.

I've talked about this before on Waked Up in Bad. In the beginning of time, literally or metaphorically, man was given the task to name God's creation. It has been in the naming of creation that we have defined it in relation to ourselves. There is a lot that can go wrong in being name creators but there is a lot that has changed the world for the better.

Taking my youth on their mission trips this summer was an excellent reminder of the importance of a name. When they served people in our community, it was rarely until they learned each other's names that true transformation was able to occur. Learning a name, calling that name, sharing your name, creates a relationship and it is hard to walk away from a relationship without being impacted in some way. Relationships create change. Change creates growth. Growth is an expression of God's abiding, life-giving love.

If you think about it, most people don't feel as compelled to help perfect strangers but they wouldn't stop to think if they were helping out Bill or Annie or Jordan, would they? When you learn someone's name they are no longer a stranger to you. And if they are not a stranger anymore then that means they cannot be anonymous.

The anonymity of the unnamed has become that creeping feeling that lingers in the dark places in my life. It is that ignored kid in the corner, that sense that something is off but you refused to look closer, that moment when you know you could choose to go deeper but you just don't want to. The unnamed people and places in my life have often been left as open wounds, severed relationships, unsaid truths, moments where healing and fullness could have sprung forth but they didn't because of me. 

When God named Adam He was claiming him as His own. When Adam named creation, he was claiming it as God's own. When we name, we are claiming something as God's and if it is God's then there is value, worth, and purpose to that creation.

One of the most important names we can create are the ones that claim our own emotions. Sometimes I can go weeks without naming what I feeling. The trouble is that I am reacting and choosing to live a certain way because of those feelings. My feelings create a string of conscious and unconscious reactions that affect everything I do and everyone I encounter. Leaving them unnamed, especially when they are painful, often results in hurting other people and myself.

I have been told that with dream therapy, the moment that you realize what a reoccurring dream means (you name the symbols and define them) you stop having that dream. The idea behind this practice is that your conscious mind has claimed what you needed to accept about your current self. Once that has been claimed then you are already working on it; meaning, you are already growing from it.

For a month now I have had this heavy, depressive sense that life is just so short. I have always thought this, but lately, it has been oppressive in its negative influence on me. Joel encouraged me to try and name that emotion which I chose to call "Sadness". Once I named it, he encouraged me to just claim it and let myself feel sad even though I could not consciously think of any reason I deserved to be sad. I was not giving myself permission to just feel what I feel.

Finally, I noodled on the idea of sadness. It was not until I visited my grandparents that I realized that I was sad because of my grandmother's sudden decline in health. These precious people whom I adore with all my being are getting old and they are going to die. I am going to miss them like crazy. This is natural and I can logically wrap my head around it all, but I was not allowing myself permission grieve it. 

Instead of days of feeling depressed and then feeling guilty about feeling depressed, I came home from that revelation and did something I don't ever do enough- I claimed my emotions. 

Joel asked how I was doing after my visit and all I said was "I think I need to cry." He offered me his chest and wrapped me in his arms and said what I knew all along "It is hard isn't it, baby?"

The sooner you name your emotions the quicker you claim them and begin steps towards healthy transformation. Now, when I feel that sense of gloom rising up, I just go ahead and cry. I just feel the sadness and then I move on. Today, I feel so much better because I am not stuffing the cork back into this carbonated bottle of emotions. Now, I can be present when it is time to become present instead of wallowing in my own circle of unclaimed sad thoughts. 

If there is a space in your life that is remaining unnamed and unclaimed, it might be time to wrap your whole heart around it and give yourself permission to feel exactly what you feel. This is where a relationship with healing begins and wholeness blossoms. 

Feel away...