warning-signIt’s human nature to be uncomfortable with discomfort.  It’s a signal that something is wrong and that it needs to get fixed.  The question is how to fix it.  Most people are terrible at figuring out how to fix emotional things.  We don’t have a good relationship with our emotions in the first place, we’re taught that they are the enemy in the second place, and they interrupt a perfectly logically managed life.  So when they come up we don’t know how to handle it and flip a coin whether we’ll handle it well or even appropriately or not.

For the most part in my work I help people understand the actions they’ve been taking because of their emotions or their years of effort to hide from them.  Our actions have ramifications and the lengths we will go to not feel uncomfortable emotions are Herculean.  Which makes them more forceful when they do appear, us less able to deal, and everything much more frightening and impactful than it needs to be.

The remedy for this is to step back from fixing and get back into feeling.  It’s something we do all the time, but we don’t know why or what it means.  Every time we see a “good” movie, read a “good book” or get a chance to see a good TV show/episode part of the goodness of it is the emotions it takes us through.  This process is called catharsis.  We are able to feel, in a controlled way, in a socially approved modality, the feels that are lying underneath our controlled and logical life.  We get to work with them without actually working with them.  This passive outlet works at a somewhat surface level although it can be an access point for people who don’t know what they don’t know about the emotions they are keeping inside.

Catharsis can also happen on its own.  It can be triggered by events in our life which hit that exact right spot to open up a deep something which then erupts.  This is common enough that it’s used as a trope on crime shows and procedurals.  Get someone riled up enough and they start blurting out the truth even though they didn’t mean to.  A great deal of truth comes out when we get angry.  It also happens when we are under stress or despairing or extremely passionate about something in the moment.   Catharsis comes when the event of the moment brings the emotions to the surface and the underlying truth shows through or blurts out or becomes clear in a ringing “aha!”

The sweet spot in between these is catharsis through art.  This requires the emotions to be present but the person also be conscious that they are having them and wish not only to express them in a positive manner, but truly feel them, not just be a conduit for them.  In the conversation between the medium, the artist, the emotion, and the moment amazing things are manifested into being which not only improve the life of the artist but speak to others helping them to feel as well.

How comfortable with your discomfort are you?  How much do you want to be?  Feeling a creative urge?