Validating Emotions: Striving for Wholeness
We’ve been taught to think that crying means something is “wrong”- literally when someone is crying, people often ask, “what’s wrong?” Where does this come from? Why does crying mean something is “wrong”? Wrong is subjective, anyhow. What if crying is just energy moving through and releasing? What if this energy is neither good nor bad? I’ve noticed myself crying more when feeling happy too- intense emotions lead to intense energy and therefore a physiological need for release. Yes, we tend to cry more with emotions such as, sadness and frustration, but I think that is because the resistance that we’ve developed through conditioning intensifies the experience. I think crying might occur less with emotions like joy and love and excitement for two reasons- one that we may limit ourselves from the full experience of those emotions and two because we release through movement- dancing, singing, art, sex, laughter. Our society often puts an emphasis on happiness as if it is a state of being to be achieved. But happy is just an emotion, like any other, and all emotions are natural and normal and deserve our attention.
Here is one of my favorite quotes that I try to live by: “I actually attack the concept of happiness. The idea that - I don’t mind people being happy - but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It’s a really odd thing that we’re now seeing people saying “write down 3 things that made you happy today before you go to sleep”, and “cheer up” and “happiness is our birthright” and so on. We’re kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position - it’s rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say “Quick! Move on! Cheer up!” I’d like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word “happiness” and to replace it with the word “wholeness”. Ask yourself “is this contributing to my wholeness?” and if you’re having a bad day, it is.” - Hugh Mackay, author of The Good Life