Step 5

Let Yourself Feel All Your Feelings

That which you resist persists.

— Carl Jung

Our culture pathologizes so-called “negative” emotions, like grief and anger. This is true of many activist spaces, as well.

As a result we suppress those emotions, rather than letting them flow freely through us. We avoid them by engaging in various activities to distract ourselves. And we project them onto other people.

There’s no such thing as a “negative” emotion or an emotion that is wrong or unproductive or unhealthy. Emotions just are. It’s what we do with our emotions which can be healthy or unhealthy. Ironically, many of our problems come, not from our feelings, but from not suppressing, avoiding, or projecting them.

Rather than fighting against them, we need to let ourselves feel all our feelings, knowing, as Rilke said, that “no feeling is final.” Jem Bendell exemplified this embrace of difficult emotions in his 2019 speech at the launch of Extinction Rebellion in Oxford Circus:

The truth is we are scared and we are brave enough to say so.

The truth is we are grieving and we are proud enough to say so.

The truth is we are traumatised and we are open enough to say so.

We are angry and we are calm enough to say so and invite others to join us.

And though we are uncertain, we are smart enough to say so.

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