I recently flew from Raleigh to San Fransisco. There was an infant two rows in front of me, there was another infant in the row immediately behind me, another was one row up and to the left of me, and another two rows back and to the left of me. Four infants. I was fairly well surrounded by them. And, they were crying for nearly the entire 5 hour flight. It was scheduled to be six hours, but for some reason the pilot stepped it up a bit. I wonder if he heard them too… I had noise cancelling headphones, but lets be honest, they really just dampen the sound, they don’t cancel it.
If you are familiar with Original Strength, you know that I believe we can learn a great deal from babies; how to move, how to smile, how to be curious, how to be… Babies have a way of just doing things right. They aren’t held back by their thoughts, or the thoughts of others. While I didn’t necessarily enjoy the belting quartet, it didn’t really bother me either. Upon reflection, after I got off the plane, I realized they were sharing another life lesson. Those children were doing something most adults would benefit greatly from; they were expressing themselves IN THE MOMENT.
Whatever they were feeling, pain in their ears from the pressure change in the plane, hunger, tiredness, or whatever, they were expressing their feelings. They were releasing their discontent. They weren’t trying to hold on to it, stifle it, or hide it. They weren’t stuffing it way down inside of their soul only to let it fester and cause illness in their bodies or the relationships around them. They were keeping their souls free from baggage and their bodies free from tension.
There is wisdom in the cry if you look. Adults spend a great deal of time trying to bury, hide, dismiss, disguise, and deny their emotions. They don’t allow them to release the pressure their emotions build and instead they try to contain them. Containing emotions can be like putting new wine into old wine skins. As the wine ferments, pressure builds up and tears the old, weaker wine skin apart. It makes a mess. The wine can’t be enjoyed and someone has to clean the floor… If that doesn’t resonate, containing emotions can be like a person trying to hide their anger, stewing on it, and then going home to blast their enemy “in public” on social media, revealing the wrongs of their frenemy and revealing the darkness they are holding onto. Like the bursting wine skin, this makes a mess of things…
Anyway, babies don’t do this. They let go of their emotions on the spot. They laugh, they smile, they cry, they rage, they express. And then they move on. They don’t allow their emotions to fester inside their hearts and destroy their bodies or their relationships. But adults do. We fear expressing ourselves. We fear expressing our weaknesses. We fear expressing anger, and sometimes we even fear expressing our joy. We fear… And, we make a mess of things.
The stress that builds from stifling emotions harms our bodies and our minds causing sickness and disease. It also produces tension in our relationships and interactions, causing “social sickness and disease.” The fear of being known, of expressing ourselves, causes us to be self-oriented (takers) instead of others-oriented (givers). We hold onto our emotions and then our emotions hold us down and keep us from enjoying and radiating life. We can’t live because we can’t let go.
I’m not suggesting we throw tantrums in grocery stores, or flip people off on the highway. By the way, the flip off is probably a great example of a bursting wine skin, not an honored emotion. That’s what I’m suggesting; we honor our emotions. We acknowledge them and let them go. We vent them and relieve the pressure.
Maybe it’s with a sigh. Maybe it’s with an honest conversation. Maybe it is with a cry. The point is, we let them escape so we can move on and not make a mess of things.
We were meant to live in strength and health. What if a major part of having strength and health throughout our lives comes from our ability to express ourselves in truth and from honoring our emotions by letting them go and not holding onto them? What if the only way we can enter this “kingdom of health and strength” is to enter it like a child? What if there was integrity in our self expression and integrity between our thoughts, emotions and movements? What if we could eradicate most of the sickness and disease in our bodies and our relationships by simply letting go and genuinely expressing ourselves without fear? What if…