Feeling Shitty in a Healthy Way

Tomorrow I'm teaching a class on how to have a healthy relationship with your emotions. See, look: 

And right now, as I write this the night before, I feel shitty. More precisely, I feel heaviness from the front of my face all the way down through my chest. My mind is slower than normal; my voice is more distant. I find I am more agitated at the routine emptiness of modern American life than I am grateful for the exquisite opportunity to experience life in all its variations, including emptiness. 

Someone asked me how I was doing today. They meant it in the usual sense of, "You say you're okay, I'll say I'm okay, and together we'll share a half-hearted moment of connection before it dissipates into another transaction." Instead I said, "I'm feeling shitty." And it got awkward. "Oh, um. Sorry to hear that," he said. "Well I guess I opened a can of worms there, eh?"

We have few places for authentic human relating. So few places, we've turned authentic human relating into a high art, practiced by a select few willing to commit to it in conscious, conventionally upper middle class white spaces:

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Even here, as you'll note by all the smiling faces, there's a premium on happiness. On my advertisement too. This marketing deliberately sells the lie that authenticity = happiness. When the reality is, authenticity = whatever the hell you're actually feeling right now. And fuck happiness, if that's what you're feeling.

This is how we have a healthy relationship with our emotions -- by acknowledging them, giving them space, welcoming them. To do this in a culture that values transactions (i.e. money) over authentic expression is an act of rebellion. To do this in spiritual circles that preach gratitude, love and light is an act of heresy. 

The truth is, gratitude is not better than bitterness. Joy is not better than sadness. Bliss is not better than misery. Sure, it feels better. Sure, you'd rather be feeling it. But if you're not feeling it, you won't get any closer by telling yourself you should. Or that something is wrong with you if you don't. 

Tomorrow, if I still feel shitty, I'm going to tell people I feel shitty. I may feel self-conscious about it. I'll tell them that, too.