Give Yourself The Gift
In Western society, as you grow up you are trained to repress your feelings. If you cry when you skin your knee, the other kids will laugh at you. If you are excited to enter womanhood with your first period, you’re a weirdo. If you help a member of the opposite sex because you feel like it’s the right thing to do, you must like that person. The taunts and name calling begins and never seems to go away. No wonder our adulthoods are so filled with repression and restraint.
The only way to be judged as a cool and attractive member of society is if it seems like nothing gets to you. Emotional men are labeled “gay” or “sensitive” and emotional women are labeled “bitchy” or “hormonal.” We are afraid that if we share our feelings that we will be ostracized from the herd. Our loved ones may abandon us and our co-workers and friends will avoid us. We are trained to bottle it all up, all of our heavy feelings, until they fade out of existence.
But that way is being constantly tested. So many emotional moments happen in our lives. From first kisses to horrible betrayals. Deaths, births, successes and failures. Our lives, our memories are full of these feelings. And yet, society often deems the sharing of these emotions as inappropriate.
I have found that learning to embrace these emotions, also known as “giving yourself the gift to feel something” can be your power that makes you a hero.
I was a very socially inept child in my youth. I was afraid of the opposite sex and the popular kids. What I did have, however, was a copious amount of empathy and a lot of heart. I really cared deeply about my friends, my parents and my peers. As I grew older, I noticed that one way to ascend the “cool person” ladder was to overflow with confidence and humor while keeping my fears, doubts, and feelings securely locked away. I forgot the old version of myself, and while I was still a little bit awkward, I was a lot more socially successful.
And then a little old woman named Joan Darling totally screwed it all up for me :).
In a life changing acting class, we tapped into some deep, deep feelings in our brains. We didn’t try to find sad or happy moments and sentimentally recall them. We literally let our senses do the work and saw what it triggered in our brains.
She said that we should “give ourselves the gift” of actually letting our senses take over and guide us through our performances. There were some skeptics, but I wanted to give it a try. Anything to help my acting. So, I went for it full force. I did not expect what happened next.
That repressed Bryan came bubbling to the top. I became obsessed with finding as many of those locked away parts of myself as I could. I did something like, fifty to sixty scenes in two semesters. Nearly three to four times as many as most of the other students. My writing began to drastically change as well as I turned toward my own life.
It took me a few years to completely shake away the closed off version of myself. I still have a hard time remembering a good chunk of middle and high school. But every since I started opening up again, my creativity has shot through the roof.
I now believe that one of my gifts to the world is my great capacity of feeling understanding of the emotions of others. It’s not an easy gift, as a lot of people are turned off by my honesty and compassion. Most people just aren’t used to it. But that’s OK.
Really embracing your emotions can be a gift for the greater good if you are a writer. By letting yourself get in touch you can more easily understand the characters you write and the audience you write for. Nothing brings readership like an emotion that people can relate to. And if you are able to convey your feelings, I guarantee you that some of your potential readers will feel the same way.
Flip the switch. Turn the corner. Give yourself the gift! It is one surefire way to bolster both your writing and yourself. Try it. That is all I ask.
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