Ups and Downs are Okay.

                                                      Photo Credit: [Brad James]

                                                      Photo Credit: [Brad James]

I have spent a large portion of my earlier life being depressed, extremely depressed. Throughout my life, there has always been someone or something that has beat me up or pushed me down.

When I was at my lowest points, it felt as though I was in a dark cave. Everywhere I turned, I saw no light, and no escape.

Eventually I crawled out of that cave.

Through it all, I’ve learned that sadness is pointless. It solves nothing. Instead, I chose to push my sad feelings down and just focus on problem solving.

My brain voice was telling me, if I never felt sad again, then I’d be happy all the time.

And who doesn’t want to be happy all the time?

So, as a result, I don’t feel sad as much as the average person. I’ve just learned multiple ways to cope and prevent those feelings before they ever surface.

I’ve learned to suppress them and almost never feel them. Sometimes, my girlfriend jokes and calls me a robot. But behind every joke, there is a kernel of truth.

The odd time, something or someone gets under my skin and sadness surfaces.

But my brain voice quickly kicks takes over and says, “Leroy, focus on the problem! Sadness achieves nothing for you.” Then, I push that feeling deep down, smile and carry on with my life.

I listen to my brain voice far too much; all while my body brain is quietly killing itself.

I’ve learned recently that suppressing emotions is terrible for your body. Because of my lack of expression, I’ve turned into a person that sometimes has trouble connecting with people on a deeper emotional level.

With the help of my own coach, I’ve discovered, in order to connect with people on a deeper level one must experience all emotions, negative and positive, on a bodily level.

Thanks to evolution, our reptilian bodies are billions of years older than our fully functioning brains. Our bodily feelings vastly precede our rational thought.

Except my brain voice tells me that experiencing negative emotions is bad. Up until this point, I think I had it upside down.

We are meant to feel defeated, upset, sad, angry, or scared sometimes.

Today was the first day; I started listening to my body, instead of giving my brain the reigns (that kind of rhymed).

As I was running on the treadmill, my lungs start to burn almost immediately. I felt defeated. When this happens, I usually suppress that feeling, and quit.

This time was different. Like always, I simply didn’t feel good enough. I was mad at the fact that it was challenging. I was upset because I struggled so much.

But instead of letting my brain accept the circumstances and begin to push those feelings down and quit running, I chose to embody the feelings. I listened to my body and embraced my defeated feelings.

Something profound happened.

I didn’t quit. In fact, I ran longer than ever. When I eventually stopped, I was drenched in sweat, exhausted and gasping for air, but I felt accomplished.

Then, something clicked. The struggle was worth it.

Life has its ups and downs, and sometimes they come hard and fast. But the lows were not just okay; they were necessary.

We have to experience these emotions because it’s at these times when can build our strongest selves and blossom.

My past experiences have taught my brain to cast away the negative emotions. But I’m starting to realize that no matter what your brain voice says, sometimes you just have to listen to your body.

You’re not a terrible person to feel these emotions. It’s okay to feel negative. But we must remember not to get ourselves stuck there. We must remember to notice the happiness, just as often as we notice the tears.

And if I begin to embrace the tears, maybe I’ll become a more complete human because robots can’t cry. 

Until next time, my amazing readers,

Be bold, be free, and love on.