I’ve realized something big:
I’ve been sanitizing my life of anything that “doesn’t make me feel good.”
That instagrammer that is pregnant and I’m not? Unfollow.
The blogger whose tone is suddenly obnoxious to me? Off my blog reader.
The friend whose Facebook posts make me cringe? Let’s turn off those notifications, please.
And just like that, I’m able to eliminate anything unpleasant that comes my way.
And I’ve realized
We live in a world where we can eliminate anything that doesn’t feel good.
Think about it-
It’s bigger than Facebook-
You can turn off your TV if the news starts to horrify you.
You can choose not to read those books about poverty or sex trafficking or orcas at Sea World.
You can scurry past that stinky homeless man.
And while I don’t think this is inherently wrong, I do think constant sanitization of the world could do me harm.
When I constantly sanitize, I’m unprepared for when things that don’t make me feel good (things like cancer, depression, and JUST missing the train) come my way. And when the bad things come (and they DO come) – I become helpless. When I sanitize, I am unprepared for the messiness of life (things like awkward conversations, unhealthy friendships, and crazy people on the subway) and that just makes things even messier for me.
And I’m thinking this might be a place where some of my anxiety issues come from. I get anxious because unlike instagram, there is no “unfollow” button when shitty things come my way. There is no off button to life. And at some point, I must learn to deal.
How do I deal? How can I handle this messy, sad, un-truly-sanitizable world we live in?
I think it might come down between the difference between coping and dealing.
Let me explain.
The way many of us deal with the un-deal-able is through coping. We feel bad, we are unable to avoid it, and so we COPE with our feelings.
When we cope with our feelings we push them aside for another day.
This can look like eating ice cream until you get sick, running on the treadmill until your legs burn, drinking until you can’t think straight, watching TV until your mind goes numb, or scrolling through your phone until you forget.
But dealing (perhaps dealing isn’t the best choice of words, but hey, it’s the best I got) with your emotions looks like acknowledging them.
It looks like saying to yourself, Wow. I’m sad. Or Woah, that made me angry. It looks like writing out your feelings in a journal or offering up a prayer for protection.
But mostly, dealing with your feelings looks like acknowledgment. It’s as simple as Yes, Sadness, I know you’re there. Hello. I’ll sit with you a while. I won’t smile or Facebook or eat you away. I won’t drink or distract you away. There you are Sadness. Hmmm.
So now I am going to think twice before I sanitize. And when I want to block that chirpy instagrammer with the (seemingly) perfect life, I will hold a moment for my sadness. (Sadness that is no one’s fault, just an honest feeling that comes up in me because of MY life and MY circumstances.) And I will let myself be sad.
But let’s be honest, I’ll probably still delete them.
What will you do?