Get Real: 10 Signs That You're Trying Too Hard to Be

Rage, Hate and Frustration Aren't Wrong; They Make Us Real

Not only does Sydney feel completely miserable, but she also blames herself for not being able to control her actions. Sydney is convinced her emotional turmoil means there is something wrong with her. Like most people who walk through my door, she views being happy as a sort of report card: If she feels good, then she's doing life "right"; if she's in pain, then she's failing.

Sydney's pain is anything but failure, however. In fact, I tell her that it's the very thing that's going to free her from some very old, untrue messages she's been giving herself for years. These messages are part of an old story -- one that has silently and invisibly instructed her for most of her life. Sydney looks at me doubtfully when I tell her that the turmoil she's in is an important signal, and if she can just try to welcome it instead of pushing it away, it will be very useful to her.

This doesn't make sense to her. Like most of us, she's been taught to avoid unpleasant feelings. Our culture is extremely pain averse, and we don't look at pain as a necessary part of life. There is no such thing as a deep emotional attachment in which we don't feel pain or anxiety at one point or another. It's part of living. It's part of loving. Remove these emotions and you remove the intimacy. Yet we aren't raised to believe that living life fully means experiencing emotional messiness and anxiety and fear. We only see these feelings as something to be gotten rid of. Since we are never told about the value of pain, we, being human, simply look for ways to avoid or eliminate it. 

Yet as we will see, difficult emotions enrich our lives in ways that we can't imagine. The path to getting what we want out of life runs right through all these messy, painful feelings. Trying to avoid them actually leads us astray. Feeling anger or rage or hate or frustration doesn't make us abnormal or sick or wrong or broken, it makes us real.

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