Why are we so quick to explain away feelings?
Yesterday, one of my sons was trying to explain to me a bad moment of his day where he felt kids weren’t sharing with him. Before he could tell me details, my brain kicked in and started explaining and filling in the blanks of the story myself. Questions ranging from: “Were they really not sharing or was it a miscommunication?” to “Why were they being so mean to my son!” to “Really? This little thing made your day bad? It was like one tiny blip in ten hours of other moments!” flooded my head before I could stop them.
Luckily, this time, I kept the dialogue internal and quickly realized that I was not letting him share his perspective without judgment. Could it have been a miscommunication? Yes. Could it have been a tiny blip? Yes. Could kids have been mean? Certainly. But none of this was needed in THAT moment. Instead, I needed to just listen until every part of the moment and how he felt about it was given it’s due time.
I fail at this as often as I succeed. I think we all do. Yesterday, the @USCCB tweeted “In one tweet, tell us when you felt least at home in the Catholic Church.” There were a lot of replies but since I just saw it this morning, I got to see the replies to the replies as well pop up. It seemed like every time some said “I felt least at home when…” someone replied “but you couldn’t possibly feel that way because…”
We do this to others but we also do this to ourselves as well. Think of the last time you said to yourself “Man, that made me feel uncomfortable… or sad… or angry…” and then answered yourself with “but I am just overreacting” or “I don’t deserve to feel this” or “others deserve this feeling more”.
What would it look like if we just sat in the emotion for a minute and let ourselves feel it with no need for explanation or rationalization?
Tonight we celebrate the Last Supper of Jesus. What powerful emotions must have been present at that table that night! I wonder if the apostles let themselves feel it all – the beauty and the terror. I wonder if we can pause to feel it all with them tonight as well.
What would it feel like?
I think it would feel like love.