Most of us have had those moments where we felt so hurt, mad or frustrated that we wanted to take a baseball bat to a few windows and/or faces. While we all deal with these situations differently, those of us who choose to keep it inside may be putting ourselves at risk. It’s a notion that isn’t brought up often but there is a scientific link between how we feel and how we feel physically.
In other words, if you have a habit of holding your feelings and emotions inside, you have a higher chance of becoming physically ill. The research is out there and it’s growing every day. For a large number of reasons I find these facts not only interesting but relevant to my life. Most of my life I have been one of those people that kept my mouth shut when someone hurt my feelings or pushed me to my boundaries. I found it was easier however to express myself with those I knew well- close family and friends.
I would fight endlessly with my parents and as the years went by I exercised my right to express openly when I felt they were in the wrong. It has taken a LOT of practice and pushing myself to be stronger but I’ve finally made some progress in being just as open with those I know less. School has helped a lot in this area too. When you have to talk in class to receive credit it becomes easier to learn how to speak up around people you may not know.
As I turn 25, I find myself reflecting on these changes and how they have effected me on a physical level. For one, I don’t get sick nearly as often as I used to, my chronic migraine headaches have subsided considerably and my anxiety level on a day to day basis is almost non-existent. Granted I tend to still injure myself here and there or contract some strange infection from a random bug bite or weird things like that but I chalk a lot of that up to my clumsiness and strange life in general.
So what does this all mean to me? Do I feel like I’ve lost any drive now that I focus on being more relaxed? Am I confronting total strangers and starting arguments in restaurants? Is my gut reaction now to slap those who dare oppose me?? That’s a big fat NO to all of the above. If anything, being more emotionally aware of myself has pushed me to take on more in my life where I can, it’s driven me to speak up in my day to day activities and manage my workloads better.
Simply put, it’s been great! So how did I get to place of inner peace and stabilization even with graduate school, work, family, friends, an internship and so on? It wasn’t easy I can tell you that. I can also tell you though that it was worth it. A little over a year ago I thought that I had been making progress in my fight against internalization of my feelings but one morning I woke up, wringing my hands over the work ahead of me that day, and I realized I had been fooling myself.
I was still getting up every morning counting off every single little thing I had to do, I still worried incessantly over my job workload (taking on way more than I could handle all the time), I had become passive with my friendships and let them become about everyone else, my anger had snapped outwards in small but hurtful ways at my boyfriend who was eventually driven away, and worst of all I had grown to hate myself in millions of small ways. So I bit down hard and I did a major overhaul on my life.
First I decided to go back to school and get my Masters in a field I actually liked. Next I planned for leaving my job at the time and eventually did. Then I tackled my friendships and cut ties with those I no longer wished to carry and cut back my efforts with those I chose to keep but where still on thin ice with. Finally I spent a few minutes every day forcing myself to think on my attitude about my life and myself and everything that I had once kept inside.
It sounds like a drastic plan to most people, and for me it was! But overall it was the most liberating experience of my life. All the worry started to fall off my shoulders, all the anxiety grew smaller and smaller. I even found myself getting comfortable with telling people who hurt me to fu@$ off here and there (where appropriate). Whenever I found myself getting overly upset about something I knew wouldn’t matter in a few hours I practiced breathing exercises and talked myself back into a state of calm.
There was a lot of hard work that went into my changes, a lot of actual changes that were immensely scary at first but I’m finally on a path I’m happy to be walking and I take on every day with a little more confidence than before. Nobody is perfect, no one at all and that’s ok. It’s something we have forgotten along the way but it’s important to remember that if you’re not happy, if you’re weighed down by insecurities and hurt feelings, then make some changes. They will be hard changes, they will be terrifying but they are yours to make and they will free you.
Don’t hold it in anymore! This one life is unique and it should be spent being happy even if all you’re doing is sitting on your porch drinking an ice tea, watching the sunset and knowing that you’re just as beautiful a sight as that sunset. If not better.