We All Fall Down
One of the most difficult things in life is to keep a straight face when someone falls down in our presence. Oh, how we try to keep it noble for those nose-divers. Winter can be the most wonderful time of year for witnessing wobbles. We hope desperately that the stumbler isn’t hurt so that our uncontrollable laughter isn’t taken the wrong way. We love you, and we hope you’re okay, but honestly, did you see yourself? You’d be laughing too.
I suppose, from now on, when I take a trip down Tumble Lane, I will say a big, non-sarcastic ‘You’re welcome’ to those laughing onlookers. After all, I’ve supplied them with their daily dose of laughter, as it is the best medicine.
When we trip up even slightly we scan the premises for prying eyes, praying to Pete that no one saw us. We become immediately embarrassed about this thing that happens to all of us.
I have a friend whom I met through dorm-life at university. She’s a beautiful person inside and out, and nobody loves a good fall more than this lady. If you want to get her giggling with no end in sight, show her a YouTube video of people falling. She is in no way looking for those people to get hurt, because - ouch!
Our dorm windows looked out onto a perfect pathway for seeing students slip. It was a paved path with a railing running the length of it. The best was when someone would lose their grip and grasp onto the railing, thus swinging helplessly from it. It was endless entertainment. 🍿
This friend is a talented figure skater and admits that part of the reason she still likes to go skating is to watch the topples take place on the ice. Does she stay upright herself all the time? Of course not. But she is someone who would put her pride aside, say ‘For you’ with a bow to her amused audience and fall over again from laughing at herself in the best of ways.
By now, you might have guessed that I didn’t come here to gab about my feelings regarding face-plants. Again, I do love a good one, but let’s begin the transition.
As much as we feel like we need to put on a brave face and protect our pride when we slip on the ice or that banana peel, it’s just not the case. Just as we trip, slip, stumble and fall in our physical life, we also trip, slip, stumble and fall in our emotional life. No one is immune to these foibles. Beyonce too?! Yes, even George Clooney. (I’m sorry. I’m kidding. I don’t know what I was thinking there.)
With the fact that everyone has emotions and can’t always control them enough to hide them, you would think that we would all be okay letting others see us slip up.
Don’t get me wrong, some folks are juuust fine letting everyone around them know how they feel. It’s just often the type of situation where they would be better off working on themselves instead of taking it out on that innocent cashier. Been there?
By showing our emotions more freely, I’m meaning talking about them with friends and other people we trust. ‘Other people we trust’ doesn’t have to be someone close to you or even your therapist. This can certainly be the young lad sitting next to you on the bus, as long as it’s talking freely to them in a way that respects you both — and those around you. Not freely yelling at them about how you feel about their opinions and decisions. Yes, honesty is the best policy, unless you’re honestly looking for a fight or causing others emotional upset.
Most people are taught from day one that we should keep our raw emotions on the down low. There’s the risk of embarrassing ourselves, or worse, embarrassing the people we’re with, like our parents.
- 😥 Crying embarrasses us.
- ❤️ Love, or having a crush embarrasses us.
- 😆 Boisterous laughter and happiness embarrasses us.
- 🥸 Uncle Lou with his knee socks and flip-flops embarrasses us.
- 😏 Embarrassment embarrasses us.
Then a lot of us start going to school at a young age, and it’s a compounding storm of anxiety and a constant test to keep our emotions under wraps. Don’t let them see you cry. Don’t let them know you’re nervous. Don’t get too excited when you get a question right in class, or someone you admire smiles at you in the hallway.
I actually loved school when I was there. I got good grades without needing to try much. I had good friends whom I’m still in touch with today.
I suffered a sprained ankle during a basketball game in high school, which kept me home the next day. I was devastated not going to school. But let’s be honest — I had a boyfriend and school was where we hung out at lunch. I didn’t long to be in my history class.
Thinking back and analyzing school life, I realize how much stress is put on everyone there to keep it level and cool. Students, teachers, and other staff included. If you stray from the beaten path even slightly you’re a weirdo. I know there’s a movement right now of ‘being weird is cool’ but you still often need to be the right kind of weird around the right kind of people. And you need to know this rule by the time you’re four.
(I will put out there that there are a lot of teachers in my family and I’m in no way knocking them or other good teachers. I know there are many who put in the effort to have an emotional connection with each child. Thank you to those who do.)
I’m using school as an example of a long period in our lives when we almost hourly need to keep our feelings to ourselves. It’s often only the ‘troubled’ kids who get sent to a one-on-one session with a counselor who are allowed to then express some of what’s on their mind. I believe if we all got that opportunity, the world would be a much calmer place.
Thankfully, we can use our friends to bounce our feelings off of, but we’re often too worried about what they think of us to risk that. And then what if they don’t invite us to their birthday party?! I’m speaking as adults here as well.
If we could regularly talk openly in a trusting, calm environment with good friends, the need for therapists would plummet as we got older. I’m sorry counselors and therapists, you do an amazing thing, but wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t need to get to that point?
I started going to a counselor again, and it’s been great. I’m only recently becoming comfortable telling others that I’m ‘seeing someone’, so don’t blab it to your friends, or therapists.
We have a centre where I live where it’s a free service, which is amazing, and hopefully this will be the case everywhere someday.
I went there for the first time a few years ago and it went really well, but once I started to feel better emotionally I stopped going. I’d felt guilty taking up a spot from someone who ‘needed it more’ than I did.
After a while, I regretted giving up my spot and called in to be put on the waiting list. I recently got The Call that I was back in. Yay! It’s a different person than last time, but both have suited me well.
With it being a free service, you might think the quality of help would be lower, but they’re at this particular place because they care. It’s not just a job for them — they’re passionate about what they’re doing, and it shows.
Most days that I go in, I don’t have a specific thing to vent about. I seem to have naturally taken the approach of speaking of things that are working for me as opposed to concentrating on what’s going wrong. I have said to her many times that I do feel a bit guilty again for taking up someone else’s spot, but she quickly reminds me that it’s my time, and we can all benefit from this type of interaction. No one deserves it more than an another.
She’s like my partner in mental health, and we seem to bounce ideas off one another. I definitely do benefit from the interaction, like she says. That all being said, there are certainly days when I feel like I should have been top of the list. ;)
I have good friends and an even good-er husband whom I can talk to about anything I want. Anxiety, love, kids, other people, sex, warts, (not necessarily in that order, nor are they connected!), and anything that’s on our minds.
BUT, I started going to a counselor because I didn’t want to burden my friends and family with all of my problems. Pretty thoughtful, eh?
I now realize I’m writing this post, not only to let you know that talking about your feelings, big or small, is what you need to do more of. I’m also writing it to remind myself that there are so many other people who would be willing to listen to me. As long as I keep it a two-way street and listen to them as well.
We truly are in this together, no matter the weather. When I say ‘this’, I mean Life, but speaking of weather — crisp fall weather is here, which I love. Pretty sweaters, cozy scarves. Teens in shorts and T-shirts trying to play-it-warm to be cool. Very entertaining for the rest of us. And hey, maybe someday it’ll be in T-shirts I designed. Stay cool, guys!
Were you one of those teens I saw this morning with their shoulders hunched up to their ears? So was I. Most of us were. We were too cool for school. We really don’t like to show our feelings — emotional or physical — do we? Silly us.
We all have them. You have some similar to mine. I have some similar to that guys’. Can we all get together and make a pact to start talking more about them? Talking about what makes us upset. Talking about what makes us cry. Talking about what makes us smile. Talking about what makes us laugh until almond milk comes out of our nose.
Just like my friend who can get up, dust herself off, continue skating and laughing with others around her — she, and I, and you can get up from our emotional falls, dust ourselves (and each other) off and start laughing again.
We have two daughters and they, like the rest of us, have big emotions. We’re working together to learn how to get through each one as they come along. They get incredibly excited over big news, little things, and all of the in-between. My best reference is the time I cut my eldest daughter’s sandwich into rectangles instead of our usual triangles. You’d have thought I told her we were going to Disney World by how excited she got.
With those big ups come the big downs as well. I wouldn’t trade their over-the-top excitement for anything, but it’s a challenge to accept the downs when you’re in the thick of them.
It’s mine and my husband’s responsibility to coach our kids through these big feelings. Not to coach them around the feelings, or to stop and go away from the feelings. But to reassure them that we all need practice in handling our emotions when they come on strong or suddenly.
It really is a daily practice. It’s not like a diploma that you receive once you’ve worked through that emotion that one time. Emotional flexibility is like physical flexibility, in that we need to practice it daily in order to maintain it.
A great way to practice handling and working through your emotions is to talk about them in a calm and safe space. This is best to do when you’re not in the throws of a panic attack or meltdown of sorts. It’s the same when coaching kids through a tantrum. Can we really get anything through to them in the middle of the mall during a meltdown? No. They’re clearly exhausted and just need to get home and be held. Talking and absorbing happens later when we’re all a little more chill.
You and I get the same way when we’ve had enough. We might have been at work all day and hiding our real feelings has been our main task. Eventually, our emotions boil over and we throw our own form of a tantrum.
You want to have your feelings understood, but you want them to be understood in a less dramatic show of emotions. But how?
Start talking, folks. Find someone to talk to. Your friend, your partner, your kids, your neighbour. Nowadays, that someone can be anywhere in the world. Maybe you know them, maybe you don’t. Sometimes just sending a text to someone works well enough that you don’t even need a reply to feel better. You could even type in a random phone number (within your area code…) and tell them what kind of day you’re having. Maybe you’ll strike up a new support system.
Maybe the someone is your newborn who may not understand language yet, but it’s someone who will listen and certainly won’t judge you for talking about your heavy emotions.
Online chat forums are a good place to find people to share with. Reddit comes to mind first. I realize this is writing, not physically talking, but it’s about getting stuff calmly out in any way we can. So grab a journal and tell it how you feel, and then tell it how you want to feel.
Pets! Pets are the best listeners. Cats might not give a lick what you’re saying, but they’ll usually stick around if you pet them during the one-sided conversation.
Your reflection in the mirror also works. Give them a name and start talking to them like they’re a good friend hanging on your every word.
These few methods are all practice in talking. You’ll become more comfortable with it and maybe you’ll start talking to your friends and inviting them to talk to you more about anything that’s bothering them. Don’t worry, you and the right friends won’t let it become an all-night whine fest.
Take turns getting the big stuff out, if that works for you, and then bring it back to the lighter side and make the rest of the evening a wine fest instead. Responsibly. Do I need to put a disclaimer here?
With the counseling I’m going to, I don’t know them personally, but just allowing myself to gab for an hour about any little thing I’m feeling has helped me better handle the big things when they arise.
My husband is a very good listener and we talk all the time. So maybe I just wanted to be able to say “My therapist says…” But honestly, he and I went for a bit where I didn’t want to add my anxiety to his bucket, so I was glad when my name came to the top of the waiting list for the counseling. For now I’m going to continue the sessions because it’s another person with different insights and ideas to spill my feelings to.
There is so much more to all of this than I can include in one blog post, but it’s a start.
Talk about my feelings? Really, Jen? That’s what you’ve got for us? Truly groundbreaking. Let me write that down.
See? Now you’re talkin’. At first, it might come out as sarcasm, but it will get easier with practice.
We will delve much deeper into all of these points over time, as we’ve barely scratched the surface. Talking about our emotions is a huge topic that could be written about endlessly. I’ve got many more suggestions, tips and tricks to share. I just wanted to break the ice (before we slip on it) and put out there that this simple (but not easy) idea of talking about our feelings can really start working for us.
I know my saying ‘talk to your friends’ is easier said than done. For now, I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to talk. It’s okay to feel big emotions. It’s okay to be taken down by the small stuff. It’s normal to fall down when the path is slippery. We all fall down.
I want you to know that we can get ourselves back up. We can help each other get back up. We can coach our kids and others around us to do the same.
You deserve to be here. You deserve to feel good. You deserve to be listened to. At least that’s what my therapist says.
I figured, to accompany this blog, and aside from tattooing inspirational words on our foreheads, what could be more blatant than wearing our inner thoughts, dreams and wishes on our chests? I started designing shirts that would make me smile if I were to see others wearing them.
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See you soon.
As per my disclaimer on the PEACE OF MINE website, I am not claiming to be a mental or physical health professional of any kind. I just have a big interest in most things to do with the human body and mind, and hope to sell some T-shirts along the way. ;)
Although this blog and anything on my website are just informational and my opinion, if you’re ever offended by anything I say, please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll look into it together.