Thursday, June 22, 2023

You Are Allowed to Have Emotional Range

Can I share something kind of embarrassing, or actually liberating, with you?

I was so angry just a few weeks ago. In the middle of one afternoon, I frantically searched my cupboard for something I could break. Shatter. Destroy. I wanted the satisfaction of hearing glass hit the ground and seeing the destruction it would leave behind. I quickly grabbed a mason jar and with all my might, threw it onto the ground and waited for it to shatter. It bounced back. Confused I tried again. It bounced back again. 

Even more enraged, I resorted to screaming and stomping my feet repeatedly, releasing a well of hot tears as my feet hit the ground. See, after some devastating news I needed to let up the anger that I allowed inside of me. 

Society is amazing at filling women with the message that joy is the preferred emotion that should exist externally. As Black women, we are taught that there are consequences for being angry. As Christian women the church drills in us that we can be sad, we can be broken, and we should be filled with joy always. As people?? We are told by friends, family, and ourselves not to be sad, “it’ll be okay”, and "just smile through it, sis!"

But,  let me tell you this: 

You’re allowed to have (and show) emotional range. Your heart has the capacity to feel everything -- from joy, surprise, confusion, anger, and everything in between. If an event warrants anger, you are well within your emotional rights to feel and express that anger.

When I shared with my therapist that I struggled to express anger, and was embarrassed that I made an attempt to break something, she asked what my anger might be trying to communicate with me. My immediate response was: "Joy, fight for yourself. Joy, this is the moment where I need your advocacy."

Let me say this: suppressing anger only diminishes the impact of wrongdoing. It reinforces that our feelings don’t matter. That we don’t need to advocate for ourselves. That we must wear an ill-fitted mask to continue to perpetuate the message that we must be soft only. So, when you feel anger (or anything in between), what is that emotion wanting to communicate to you? What do you need from yourself at that moment?

Emotions are active. What you feel communicates with you (only when you allow it to). Practice recognizing and giving room to all of your emotions. Anger is just as important and valid as joy. Don’t suppress either — they each deserve to be seen and released. Allow yourself to cry when you feel pain; yell when you’re upset; dance when you feel joy, or express yourself in any way that liberates you, protects you, and honors how you feel. Your emotions are information intended to guide you. They each deserve quality attention. 

Here’s to feeling free to express every warranted emotion (and doing so with wisdom). Here’s to being kind to our heart and letting it speak out when it needs to. Here’s to protecting our emotional integrity and remembering that we are allowed to have range. 

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