While I was reading one of counseling books, it was going over polarities which is a component of Gesalt theory. In a very short summary, polarities are the two extremes where people tend to fall. For instance, adult vs. child, loving vs. hateful, strong vs. weak, etc. Polarities could be used for any type of binary opposites. If a person is always only on one extreme, such as being an adult and strong, they aren’t experiencing the full range of human emotions, aka those related to being a child and weak at times such as sadness. The goal of this theory is for people to accept all sides of themselves and experience all types of emotions, even the “bad” ones. Instead of staying at either extreme all of the time, stay in the middle for the most part and/or find a balance between them through alternating. Sidenote: keep in mind this does not mean to act on the emotions. It means to feel them and cope with them appropriately. Also, there are books and other texts that go into more depth about this, I kept it short for the sake of the post since this isn’t an academic paper.
Reading this chapter reminded of my blog post, Being 100% Positive and Happy 24/7 is Unrealistic. It also reminded me of a time during my senior year of college, in which I had a problematic polarity between emotional and logical. Some time in my senior year, a recurring pattern that has been happening in my life since I was in high school happened again. Usually when this cycle happened, I would suppress my emotions because I like control. I was too prideful of allowing myself to feel the anger, sadness, and frustration so I just explained everything away with logic. Also, I did not want to embody the angry black woman/girl stereotype, so I appeared calm. Ironically, I was embodying the strong black woman complex. I would convince myself that I was okay and focused on something else, which was usually work. You can read more about me overworking myself in these posts: Unhealthy vs Healthy Coping Mechanisms and The Queen of Overworking Herself is Trying to Give up Her Crown. When this event occur, again in my senior year, I was really upset and could not force myself to suppress my feelings like I was able to before. I remember joking with my professor saying that I wish I was a robot to avoid feeling emotions but could somehow compute empathy to still do therapy. After laughing, she explained to me that I was grieving and that I should allow myself to experience it. If it became too overwhelming I should head over to the counseling center.
So, I did. I gave myself two weeks to completely immerse in my feelings that have been piling up over the years. In case you are wondering why I choose two weeks, the number randomly popped in my head. I wanted to give myself enough time to feel everything and not rush it, but I also did not want to prolong it to the point it became unhealthy. During this time, I allowed myself to feel every single emotion that I would normally suppress. I did not push them away, I sat in them and cried. I began understanding them which lead to my handy dandy coping mechanism of writing. I also played songs related to the event and sung (or maybe yelled) loudly off key. I accept and validated all of them. This is weird to say (well at least to myself) but I allowed myself to be weak for once. During that time, I allowed myself to experience my feelings and release them. For the first 4 days, I was really angry and miserable. Like I don’t remember genuinely smiling and laughing, only polite smile and laughter when I was talking with people. Although I still made sure I look cute and put together. You know the whole look good on the outside feel good on the inside. By the fifth day, I noticed I started laughing more and finding back my joy. By the seventh day I was no longer angry, upset, sad, or frustrated. At first, I was surprised that by day 7 I felt fine, so I still gave myself up to two weeks. I did not force myself to go back into my feelings but if I naturally found myself there, I sat there and continue expressing and releasing. By like the ninth day, I did not care about the recurring event anymore, accepted it, and let it go.
Time to Focus on You:
Now it’s your turn to feel and accept your emotions. If something recently happened that evokes emotions of you, sit in them and experience them for however long seem fit for you. Don’t push them away, just let them flow. You would be surprised at what you discover. Also, be cautious of doing this, if it is too overwhelming seek help from a mental health professional. Practice self-care and healthy coping mechanisms.
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