Ever held a beach ball under water? You can do it for a while, maybe even quite a while, but eventually the ball will pop back up to the surface and wildly careen off. It’s pretty much the way our emotions work as well. You can hold them under, but they don’t go away. Unless you can hold them under until you die (gee, doesn’t that sound like fun?), they will keep finding a way to come to the surface until you deal with them.
Some years ago, I became committed to walking through rather than trying to hold down my negative emotions. Life is hard enough and if there’s anything I am sure of, it’s that I don’t want to be managing, healing from or trying to ignore hurts from decades earlier when I get the the latter half of my life. So, I have found all sorts of ways to work through things as they happen rather than putting them off and hoping they’ll just work themselves out. I share a lot of these strategies on this blog.
Usually I manage to work through the emotional fall-out from the events of my life pretty quickly. But sometimes I’m upset or anxious or angry and despite my best efforts, I just can’t seem to move past it. I have learned that when this happens, that is an emotion demanding to be experienced. And if you shove it down now, it will just come back later.
So, when talking and praying and distraction and empowering actions just aren’t getting the job done, I will give myself a bit of time to just go into full drama mode. After stashing my cell phone, computer and car keys elsewhere, I’ll go off by myself and let it rip. (I’m not a fan of taking action in the middle of high emotions. Usually that just means you do something stupid and regret it later.) I’ll yell and rant and punch the air and sob ridiculously. I’ll think up outrageous ways to set things right (asking God to hit my husband with a bus, anyone?). I will pull out all the stops with my hyperbole. And then, after awhile, I’m done. I’m sick of it. I have genuinely had enough of the emotion, don’t want to deal with it anymore and I’m ready to let it go. When it’s done, I can pick myself up, laugh at how outrageously ridiculous I can be and move forward in freedom.