For the past three weeks, my house mates and I have been doing group counseling. This probably sounds strange to a lot of people, especially because our house is not dysfunctional- but the truth is, it is strange. Let me rephrase that: and the truth is, it is strange. I’m learning that I need to replace the word “but” with the word “and.” That’s one of the things we talk about in group counseling.
The biggest thing we talk about is a emotion- the nitty gritty feelings that we deal with week in and week out. And here’s the thing: I’m learning that no emotion is bad. Even the negative emotions. They’re not evil and it’s great that they’re there.
I’ve seen Pixar’s Inside Out. A few times. And it took me a while to get (‘How do the emotions have emotions?! I don’t get this movie’) but it’s starting to click:
Emotions are bits and pieces of us that help us navigate and experience life. When we get angry or scared, it might be a survival trigger. When we are happy or excited, it’s a way we are rewarded for something our spirit likes.
Emotions are important. Even the ones we think of as bad.
And I’m starting to see each emotion as I see a friend- that it has something to give me, something to help me live better. And just like real human friends, I cannot give them free reign or total control of my life. If my Anger friend walked in, broke everything in my room, and walked out, I’d be pissed. But if my Anger friend came over and told me how he’s here because of an injustice, I might be able to talk it out and grow from that interaction.
It’s a lot to take in. And a lot to process. And it’s scary to take away the powerful, raw emotion of a good experience to examine it, learn from it, and then leave it until next time. After all, I don’t have any friend that I string around to every moment with me. But I have some friends that love hiking, and some that love going to movies. Maybe that’s why certain emotions tag along with me when I go shopping (Stress and Materialism) and others come with me when I go for a long drive in the woods (Peacefulness and Calm and Quiet Acceptance).
When moods come in, instead of letting them own me, I’m starting to ask- “why are you here?” and then later, “thank you for your service.”
Maybe you’ll join me in this. Maybe you’ll find each emotion greeting you like a friend, too.