The Happiness Connection  

When it's too hard to watch

I enjoy watching a wide variety of sports, as long as I have a vested interest in who wins. I guess you could say I’m a fan rather than a sports enthusiast.

I think I’ve watched more games in the past few weeks than I have in many months.

Firstly, I watched the Montreal Canadiens reach their first Stanley Cup final since 1993. Let me correct that sentence. I tried to watch the Montreal Canadiens. I found it too excruciatingly painful to give it my full attention.

That wasn’t because I didn’t think they could win, but because it was too emotional. I’ve been a Habs fan since I was 12, and 1993 was a long time ago. It’s time for Stanley to come home.

At least, that’s the story I told myself to explain why I did some craft work during each period and only kept an eye on the television.

The series didn’t end with the result I’d prayed for. But I was secretly relieved that I didn’t have to torment myself with any more games. Phew!

My theory held up until I tried to watch Denis Shapovalov play Novak Djokovic in the semifinal of Wimbledon. I say tried, because I was no more comfortable watching tennis than I was hockey.

I used to be able to view games with my heart in my mouth and enjoy every minute of it. What’s happened to me?

I guess you could say I’ve been on a journey.

I used to cry when athletes were awarded their Olympic gold medals. A commercial designed to tug at the heartstrings, brought tears quickly and easily. Every time I sat down to watch the movie Terms of Endearment, I took off my makeup and made sure there was a full box of tissues at the ready.

It’s hard to say exactly what caused me to bundle my emotions away and pretend they didn’t exist. I suspect it was part of my struggle to deal with depression when I was in my 30s. I vaguely remember viewing my easily hurt feelings and sensitive, passionate nature as a weakness.

If I didn’t feel so deeply, maybe I wouldn’t hurt so much.

I created what I call the ostrich strategy.

Imagine burying your head in the sand and thinking because you can’t see anything, nothing outside yourself exists. It’s a very effective tactic if you want to avoid bothersome sensations that make you suffer.

I became extremely adept at it. I could hide from unwanted emotions before I was even aware they existed.

That approach served me well for many years.

It wasn’t until recently, when a box of letters from my dim and distant past surfaced, that I was reminded that I haven’t always been that way. I’d forgotten how deeply I used to experience life.

I could watch nail-biting games, because I was used to feeling things strongly. It was part of my existence rather than something to be avoided.

With this realization came a torrent of emotions that I thought I’d banished. Of course, hiding something doesn’t mean it’s gone. Those unwanted feelings were just waiting until the time was right, to reappear.

I’ve been working my way through a lot of stuff, lately. It hasn’t been fun, but I wanted to rediscover that passionate side of myself that I haven’t seen in a very long time.

If watching hockey and tennis is anything to go on, I guess it’s working.

These sporting events are giving me an opportunity to get used to strong sensations again. I intend to watch England in the European Cup final on Sunday. Their drought has been even longer than that of the Habs.

I’m going to try to watch without doing anything else, at least for part of it. Baby steps, grasshopper.

If you want to live a truly happy and fulfilling life, you need to be willing to accept all your feelings, even the ones that hurt or that you view as shameful or a sign or weakness.

You don’t have to hold on to them, but rather than pretending they aren’t there, recognize them, accept them, and then release them.

Do this by:

  1. Identifying the emotion by name (sadness, regret, resentment, etc.)
  2. Accepting it with love, knowing for better or worse, it’s part of your journey
  3. Releasing your feelings with forgiveness towards yourself, circumstances, and anyone or anything else that was involved

In my experience, the last step is often the hardest one to accomplish. It involves letting go of the stories you’ve created to explain or justify what happened.

It’s time to stop viewing emotions as a weakness and instead to acknowledge them as an important part of living a full life. It may not be an easy thing to do, but as is frequently the case, the best way is often the more challenging one.

More The Happiness Connection articles

About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories