When I was a child my mother read me a children’s book titled There’s No Such Thing as a Dragon byJack Kent. It was one of my favorites and I now read it to my children.
In the story, a young boy wakes up to see a small dragon sitting at the bottom of his bed. When he goes downstairs for breakfast, he tells his mother about the dragon and she responds with “there is no such things as a dragon” (even though she can see it). She attempts to feed her son breakfast and the dragon steals all of his food and eats it. When her son complains about this, she once again responds with “there is no such thing as a dragon.”
The dragon grows throughout the day and eventually fills the whole house. Meanwhile, the mother, refusing to acknowledge that the dragon even exists, spends her day crawling in and out of the house windows trying to clean her home and go about her day as usual. Eventually, things fall apart and the house is pulled off its foundation by the dragon. At the end of story, the mother is once again about to say “there is no such thing as a dragon” when she is interrupted by her son who says “THERE IS A DRAGON.” In an instant the dragon shrinks down to the small size it was in the morning. As they are wondering why the dragon had to grow so big, her sons says “I guess it just needed to be noticed.”
Too often we are like the mother in this story. We expend a lot of energy refusing to acknowledge what is actually in front of us. OUR FEELINGS. Humans often resist negative emotions because they don’t like how it FEELS. So, instead, we pretend we are not mad, sad, hurt or resentful. We go about our days climbing in and out of “emotional windows” to avoid experiencing a feeling. Unfortunately, the “Dragon” (feeling) doesn’t go away that way. Instead, it grows.
Like a nagging child, your feelings are trying to tell you something, and they want to be noticed. Often, like in the story, the easiest way to shrink the growing negative emotion pulling at your pant leg, is just to acknowledge it. Call it what it is. Angry, sad, resentful, defeated, shame, it doesn’t matter. What you are feeling is just there because of something you’re thinking.
Let your feelings just BE, and allow yourself to experience them without resisting. You will find that your “emotional framework” doesn’t get torn off of its “foundation” as much.