There Can Be a Downside to Being Fully Present

being present self-care Apr 07, 2024
Being present

Every year my family does what we fondly refer to as our "lake week."   Both of my sons and their families, myself and my husband, and this past summer my parents, all go to my younger son's lake house where we hang out, swim, jet ski, read, get ice cream, and sit and talk for hours. 

This week and Thanksgiving are the only times each year that I'm guaranteed this complete family togetherness.    Both sons and daughters in law and all grands all together in the same place at the same time.

To say that I look forward to this week each year is a huge understatement.  And, this summer, I was able to successfully continue my practice of being present.   Of immersing myself in the moments and really soaking up the joy.

I had a blast and the week flew.

We had planned to leave on Saturday, but on Friday we woke and it was chilly and rainy.   So, we all decided to slowly start to pack up and head home on Friday afternoon instead of Saturday morning.

The lump in my throat formed and grew.

I hugged and kissed everyone goodbye, and I noticed that my granddaughter held on extra tightly as we said our goodbyes. 

I got into my car and began to cry as soon as I was out of sight.

I cried on and off the whole way home.   As I remembered memories from the week I would smile and cry at the same time.   Certain songs on the radio made me cry.

I allowed myself to wallow for the rest of the day.  I made the decision to allow myself to be fully present in my sadness instead of stifling it somehow or telling myself that I should be grateful for having had the time I did.

I'd always felt sad at the end of this week.   But, this felt different.  The week had ended unexpectedly and suddenly.    

I realized that my practice of being present made my sadness feel sadder.   

There is Value in Being Present in Our Negative Feelings

The value is summed up in one word:  self-awareness.

Accepting, examining, and FEELING our negative feelings increases our sense of self-awareness.  Pushing the negative feelings away prevents us from looking at what might be causing them.   Additionally, doing this is not good for our health - both emotionally and physically.    Repressed negative feelings will resurface in our brains and in our bodies.  It's guaranteed.

Research is showing repeatedly that people do better overall when they accept their unpleasant emotions rather than fight them.

Our Amazing Community of Women

I have worked with and talked to many of you who are a part of the Life Balance After 50 community, both 1:1 as well as through email and my program, Redefining on The Right Side of 50.   Something that I have found to be very common in here is the tendency to deny our negative feelings.   To push them away.   To avoid feeling them or examining them.

This is often the result of a core belief that has been with us for a long time.   It's not being "perfect" if we have negative feelings or if we cry.   Or, it might not feel safe to do so.   We might feel that we aren't being grateful.

How often did I hear the statement as a child, "Stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about."   Our feelings were often negated or discouraged while we were growing up.

But, there is information to be gathered from these feelings.   For me, leaving the lake and feeling so sad allowed me to think about how much I valued those family relationships and that time together.   How important it was to me.  That it was a priority in my life. 

Additionally, it's okay and HEALTHY to sit with those emotions and allow yourself to feel them!   By doing so, you can move past them and carry on.

Ways to Start Working on This

Journal, Journal, Journal

Write it all down.   The events.    Your feelings.   Next steps.

In my situation, next steps were to come home and "wallow" in the sad feelings and then decide to wake up the next morning and take my walk, grocery shop, and catch up on the laundry per usual.

Share Your Feelings With Someone Else

I think that many of us in here hesitate to share our negative feelings for a variety of reasons.   

  • We may not want to be vulnerable;
  • We may not want to "burden" someone else;
  • We like to have a "happy" persona - social media has made this even more of an issue now.

Keeping the negative feelings inside, however, gives them more power.  I've said this often about my anxiety - as soon as I started talking about it and labeling it when it was happening, its power subsided significantly.

Don't be afraid to share your emotions and feelings with a trusted person.   I downloaded on my husband as I drove home.   He was able to listen and comfort me and it actually helped him too because he knew I was going to be in a sad mood when I got home.

Every single one of us in this Life Balance After 50 community has experienced both happy AND sad/angry times in our lives.   That's life!   That's normal!

It's important to be fully present for all of the feelings and moments in our lives.  Not just the happy ones.