You know what you are feeling, am I right? I mean, consciously. You know when you are angry, sad, or happy. Of course you do.
But did you also know there could be a whole web of other feelings underneath those surface emotions? A web that covers how you truly feel about an event or person? There are layers over layers, like a big fat onion.
Let's take parties and me as an example. It is no secret that I am not a fan of parties, whether it is throwing one or attending one. I don't like the preparation (a huge stressor for me), and I don't like big groups of people. Even when they are my people. Covid was a blessing for me in this regard.
But as life is not just about me and my husband reached his 60th birthday, we recently threw a party for 20 people. Which in my book is a big party.
On the surface, not being a fan, I knew I was feeling resentment toward the fact that there even had to be a party. Obviously. But I could feel there was more to it, so I dug deeper this time.
And what came up was this: I was feeling resentment towards people who love parties and the general expectation of having to throw one with birthdays. More surprisingly, I also felt a fear of losing control because I could not control what all those people would do. Or what they would think of me. Oh, and let's not forget resentment towards myself because I felt all this resentment and fear to begin with! Why would anyone make such a big fuss about something as simple as a party? Why would I?
All those emotions were piling up, adding insult to injury. No wonder I used to literally freak out in the weeks and days before a party. It was not just the obvious, superficial emotions that bothered me. But all these other ones as well. Nicely hidden from view until they got triggered.
Now you could say, 'suck it up and push through regardless, get it over with and move on.' I used to do this for decades, neglecting how I felt and doing what was expected. Basically neglecting myself. But in recent years, there always comes a point where my body says 'no more'. You will listen now or I will start screaming. And you don't want that, because it hurts'.
So, a while ago, I decided to peel my emotional onion. I started listening and exploring those underlying emotions and stressors. And it helps! They lose their hold on me when I acknowledge them and feel through them. They lose their negative charge. So next time, they will not have that big an impact on me and I won't get triggered so easily. Which means less stress and less pain.
That in itself is a good enough reason for me to keep peeling. But I also realized it is actually OK to feel resentment towards parties. That is who I am as well. Maybe that is not an eye-opener for you, but for me, having been a people pleaser to the core, it was quite the revelation. And, even better, it is OK to feel this way and still throw a party anyway when I choose to. So there is no need anymore for me to resent myself for resenting.
This is what peeling your emotional onion does for you.
Sure enough, it might sting and make you cry. But it will make your life taste so much better!