Remember, emotions and sensations have helped humanity survive
As I’ve written in previous blogs, and will keep reiterating, humans have had emotions for survival since cave people days. And hey, I can order a ride, have my groceries delivered to my door, book a flight, and so many other things with my fingertips and a smartphone. Humanity has made it and our emotions helped us get here.
The thing is… our emotions don’t know what year it is. They don’t know that most of us don’t need to worry about bear attacks anymore. And since they don’t know this, we need to start normalizing that all humans are born with various degrees of emotional biological response. And no matter where you fall on the spectrum, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.
This is a tough concept for a lot of people. Most of us understand others based on our own personal emotional biological response — our own experiences and the way we react to them. So if I usually experience my emotions at a mild to moderate level, I assume others experience their emotions in the same way.
We could not be more wrong. I mean, so fucking wrong. If you take only one thing from this blog, let it be this: Never assume that someone will, or should, feel their emotions at the same level as you.
We all feel things differently, even if we’re related
I’ve recently been speaking with a loved one about his son. My loved one is learning (with a lot of directness from me) to understand that his son was born emotionally biologically different from him. My loved one questioned me and pushed back with the common paradigm, like father like son. He is this way, so why can’t his son be this way? And the moment he realized he and his son are two completely different people was powerful.
There is no rhyme or reason as to which humans have “more” or “less” emotional and physical sensations. Maybe they’re inherited from a grandparent with all your same mannerisms, or maybe your apple fell a little further from the tree. Even a set of twins can feel their emotions differently.
One thought is that it may be based on your job in cave people days. If you were a hunter, maybe you’re a little quicker to anger. If your job was to warn the tribe of danger, you might feel more anxious than others.
The point is that feeling these emotions and sensations isn’t wrong because 1. They are what kept humanity alive, and 2. They are what make you you.
People might say you’re “sensitive” or “emotional” as if it’s a bad thing and that is complete bullshit. How can feeling your feelings ever be wrong when you were born to feel them that way? The second most important takeaway from today’s blog: Never let others make you feel like being sensitive is negative.
There’s no shame in having emotions or sensations. It’s simply how you were born. Like Oprah’s famous, “You get a car!” maybe you get panic attacks, or you get worried thoughts, or you feel heaviness with your sadness. Maybe you get “the fuck-its” when you’re livid, or your skin feels like fire, or you sweat profusely. Maybe you’ll get goosebumps, or you’ll want to run and hide, or you’ll have stomach ulcers. Maybe you’ll feel tension in your fists, or your heart will feel like jumping out of your chest.
It all feels like a horrible cluster fuck because these feelings feel like they will last forever! And that’s all okay and normal, and there is nothing wrong with you. Just keep reminding yourself that every emotion subsides, even if you do nothing but wait.
It’s hard to believe when you’re in it, but every physical sensation will eventually change, move, or go away.
Now here’s your homework:
Jon Kabat Zin reminds us that our breath is our biggest ally. Rick Hanson’s book “Buddha’s Brain” also tells us that every time you exhale it will help you relax. Michael Phelps calls this Lion’s breath.
Your homework is to exhale deeply, and repeat.
Tips for parents:
For younger children, try using visuals for exhaling deeply.
- Blow out candles
- Blow feathers on the floor
- Put a book on their tummy so they can see it go up and down