What Emotional Meltdowns Taught Me

Painting by Ashton Wallis

Painting by Ashton Wallis

I’m no expert on suffering. I have accepted in absolute humility that its humane to hurt and fail sometimes. We all hurt a little as a natural consequence of being emotional entities, and we fail be because we try. Emotional meltdowns are common but not easy. I want to tell you about what soul crushing disappointments and self wrenching doubts have taught me, why I feel they are both terrible and precious in their wake.
1. It’s essential to hit rock bottom, at least once in a lifetime. They are the depths where some unique treasures are found. When your humiliation or fear comes true, such that your are almost written off, you think you’re done – something wonderful happens. As time passes, and you crawl from the trenches of your bitterness (eventually whether it takes months or years), you realize your own tensile strength. When the emotional wave has drowned you and dissipated, in resurfacing and breathing again, the tenacity of your self is revealed to you. There is a dangerous beauty in the process of surviving disturbing destruction. You become a hero in your right, that is darn awe-inspiring!
2. Few regrets can be huge, as heavy as death and as inescapable as shadow. Living with the weight of perceived responsibility for a hideous or lamentable act is tough, often it erodes one’s soul. Yet the truth is – anyone who cares, wants to do something worthwhile, be right, be good, be responsible – could make a mistake at some point quite with the best possible intentions. To be fully human, we have to be humane enough to allow acceptance of our own failings. Often we deny, judge and reprimand that part of our self which made the mistake. We do a sort of psychological surgery to disown it, separate it and then castigate it. We deny it our own understanding and empathy. This sheer cruelty turned inwards gets us stuck in a remorseful loop  of utter humiliation and deep suffering. Denial doesn’t work, nor does kicking yourself. To live its important to accept oneself, particularly the parts that are difficult to pardon. Regrets have taught me the importance of embracing my own idiocy and fallibility to permeate true kindness. It taught me to feel bad for my actions without hating myself.
3. It’s important to have a developed self, the kind that is not defined by a job or a relationship, the kind that answers to a purpose or to a passion. What we do, how we do it and with whom we share that will always be peripheral to ‘why’ we do it, if this distinction is lost or is buried beneath unawareness, we will keep running after people, places and positions that give us a feel of our deepest unearthed desires and call it ‘fate’. We are metaphorically akin to this Bedouin who chases mirage, realization of which is a crippling feeling. And life has a way of teaching you by shattering your illusions if you’re pro-learning, I assure you that. Be aware of your purpose and place in the universe. The more aware you’re, the less you will feel pulled via puppet strings at the invisible hands of fate or destiny.
4. Know yourself well, the sooner the better. You know yourself by putting yourself out there to experience. Be aware, be observant, be centered, be grounded and learn well about yourself. When we don’t know our buttons, we don’t control our lives. We let others (people and circumstances) operate us by proxy and suffer the consequences. Life is about knowing these buttons well and deciding which are to be locked, which are fun to play with, which push us forward or backwards, and which need fixing. Self knowledge is like having a true north, no matter what set-back befalls you, you will know where you should be headed. Suffering a loss, will not render you lost.
Installation by Khalil Chishtee

Installation by Khalil Chishtee

5. Forgiveness will set you free. Holding on to acerbic grudges corrode psychological wellbeing. Hating causes most misery to the hater. It’s like holding live coals in the chambers of own heart and wishing the other to burn. It’s an incredibly self defeating and unbelievably infantile emotional response. Yes, anger is justified, and sometimes it is a befitting response towards certain acts of violation or violence. But, you should know to draw the line. Let your emotions guide you, let them tell you who is not to be trusted, who is to be avoided, who doesn’t deserve to be a part of your life. This could be the right place to draw the line. Any psychological investment beyond this is akin to giving the one despised, space to live in your head, freedom to feast on your heart, and passage to infect your spirit. Let go, sincerely aim to do so. Free yourself to be involved with better things, the kinds that bring peace and joy.
6. Believing in ourselves is not enough. We have emotional meltdowns because we are not enough. We need others too, to be reminded of our own fragility and voids. We needs others to believe in our light when its out in the bleak moment. We need others to learn and accept that we are imperfect, also that it seldom matters that we are so. We need others to traverse the depths and heights of life, and stay rooted to the knowledge of our fallible nature through the roller-coaster ride. And we must find the courage to love and trust people even if we have been let down too many times. No matter how much we try, think and plan, we cannot secure life. Fear of failure makes a person remarkably fragile. They either become too hard to feel or so soft that they often bleed. To truly live, we have to unlock the bravery within us and shine irrespective of the weather. If you manage to do so a few times, you will see its not that hard or bad, practicing vulnerability.
Written by Anushree Bose