I’ve always been somewhat of a ham, especially when I was little kid! No matter if I was in school, with friends or with family, I always wanted to be seen as the “cool kid.”
No doubt most of us have awkward stories from our adolescence but today I want to talk about a time where trying to be the “cool kid” got me in trouble.
In fact, this might be the first time life showed me that pretending to be someone I wasn’t would only get me hurt…
Head over heels
Ahhh to be young and in love…. or at least, think you’re in love…
When I was around 7 or 8, I wanted to impress a cute girl named Lea that lived down the street from my childhood home in Seattle, Washington.
I guess you could say she was my first crush.
When you’re 8 years old there aren’t a lot of ways to impress your special someone, so I had to resort to some good old-fashioned show boating!
In my little 8-year-old mind, if I could show Lea just how talented I was on my bike it would all but guarantee she’d instantly fall in love with me.
So then, as Lea came outside to play with her friends, I made my move and hopped on my bike to attempt some dangerous yet spectacular wheelies.
The first few wheelies went off without a hitch and to my surprise, Lea was actually watching!
After I landed a couple tricks my confidence was sky high and I can remember thinking, “Okay buddy, she’s looking your way so now you really need to impress her.”
Luckily (or perhaps unlucky) for me, with all the gigantic pines tress around, the streets were littered with softball sized pine cones.
These pine cones would make the perfect obstacle to maneuver my way through, over and into Lea’s heart.
With all my might I picked up speed and started weaving in and out of an endless patch of pine cones.
I could tell things were going great because everyone in the cul-de-sac watching me and then, it happened.
Without warning my bike came to a screeching halt and I found myself flipping over my handle bars. It seemed like I was airborne forever and I can remember thinking, “This is really going to hurt.”
Well, I wasn’t wrong because not too longer after that thought passed through my mind, I landed face first on the hard cement and split my lip wide open.
Blood was everywhere, and I instantly burst into tears.
If the embarrassment of falling on my face in front of my crush wasn’t bad enough, moments after the incident I heard Lea’s mom screaming from their house!
As she darted out the front door, I could tell by the look on her face my injury was pretty bad.
After Lea’s mom helped me get back to my feet and the embarrassment wore off slightly, I gathered my things and made my way back home with tears still flowing down my cheeks.
As I got closer to the house, I could see my dad outside working on the yard.
It didn’t take him too long to realize I was hurt and before I knew it I could see my dads eyes light up which immediately sent him into “serious dad” mode.
“What did you do?” he yelled…
“Why would you be so reckless?”
“What the hell were you thinking?”
When I finally got home my dad swooped me into his arms and ran me into the kitchen to start cleaning out my lip. Blood and tears filled the sink while my dad continued to clean me up and encouraged me not to cry.
As I continued to shriek in pain, my dad pleaded with me, “STOP CRYING” he yelled! “Men don’t cry, JC!” “Quit being a baby, it’s not that bad” he said.
The truth about our feelings
Now, in hindsight this might sound kind of rough but before I go any further, I want to tell you that my dad isn’t a bad person. In fact, he was merely repeating what his father probably told him…
Unfortunately though, by asking me to stop crying my dad was asking me to effectively reject my emotions and deny what already was.
In that moment I was hurt, scared and in pain. How could an 8-year-old possibly be asked to stop crying in a situation like that?
So, why do I tell you this story?
I tell you this story because it illustrates how our culture avoids emotions and feelings and how we are taught to think of the word “emotional” in a pejorative manner.
In that moment, my dad wanted me to deny myself of an evolutionary response that took millions of years to program into my DNA. As you can see, trying to override instincts designed by evolution over million and millions of years is a tall task.
Furthermore, why would you want to?
Aren’t human emotions a normal part of the human experience?
I’m fairly confident that my story is not unique; however, I can only speak from the perspective of a man.
For me and many other men, any sort of emotional expression is usually met with dismissal and sometimes even ridicule!
Why does society make us so scared of our own emotions and why is it so bad for a child to cry?
I believe that emotions are a necessary evolutionary tool designed to help us navigate through our lives and they should therefore be embraced, not avoided!
However, if we spend our entire lives avoiding emotions, we never learn how to use them to our benefit and of course, as with all great things, if you don’t know how to use something, it’s then wasted or even worse, it’s damaging.
Luckily there is indeed a way for us to learn how to control our wide spectrum of emotions.
How to see your emotions clearly
One of the main objectives of mindfulness is to see emotions and thoughts as they ARE—not as our old narratives say they SHOULD be. Being mindful is not about being void of difficult thoughts or emotions.
Instead, it’s about being able to interpret them with the objectivity that can only come from space. The more we see a thought as just a thought, the more space we create. If we can create enough space, thoughts and emotions lose their grip on us and we can begin living life without fear.
Instead of running from my sadness and only seeking happiness I can enjoy the human
experience for what it is—a wide array of beautiful and intense emotions.
When you look at emotions this way, they don’t seem so scary and you can really start to learn about yourself.
Too many of us miss what’s special and unique about ourselves because we are too afraid to look within.
But in order to grow and live our best lives we have to look within because what’s at stake is far too valuable to let slip away!
Every single one of us has a unique voice and part of the soul’s journey is to live and experience this life authentically. When we run from emotions and feelings we are running from ourselves and that stifles the soul’s growth.
So please, look inside yourself and stop denying your emotions.
It’s okay to cry.
It’s okay to laugh.
It’s okay to be sad.
It’s okay to be frustrated, depressed, exhausted, or whatever emotion you feel!
All of these are normal human emotions and when we learn to see them without the filter of our ego and our past, we can use them to improve life and even our relationships. By embracing our emotions we embrace ourselves and that is an incredibly powerful way to live.
Thank you as always for reading. Let us know about your relationship with emotions. Have you made peace with them or are you still avoiding them? What have you learned about yourself by expressing your emotions?
And finally as always, until next time, many many blessings!