Imagine a pig wallowing in a mud puddle. The image conveys an element of decadence and bliss, doesn’t it? Now think of times you’ve used the word wallowing, not related to a pig and mud. It’s likely that you’ve injected some self-centeredness and negativity to the word. For example, wallowing in emotions or sentimentality no longer conveys bliss but a bit of narcissism and of no use to anyone, least of all yourself.
Wait a minute – is wallowing in your emotions bad? Tina Gilbertson, in her book Constructive Wallowing, thinks otherwise – in fact, she purports that doing so is actually beneficial. How can this be? Who wants to wallow in jealousy, or sadness, or anxiety, or anger? It’s painful enough as it is. Get rid of that emotion quickly instead! Pretend it isn’t there. Stuff it down. Move on. Don’t look back.
What if… instead of stuffing it down, you let yourself feel it? Hmmm, I just don’t think so… Why would I want to feel this jealousy/sadness/anxiety/anger? Move on. Stuff it.
The thing is that stuffing emotion may work in the short term, but in the long term, it just doesn’t. The jealousy/sadness/anxiety/anger persists. It builds. It can make you stuck. It can make you sick.
Well, okay, but won’t wallowing in jealousy/sadness/anxiety/anger make me feel even worse? Yes, it certainly can. Especially if you’re criticizing yourself the whole time, telling yourself you shouldn’t feel this way, that things are actually fine, that you’re too sensitive, that you need to just get over it.
Constructive Wallowing offers concrete tools, plus the compelling and very readable reasoning behind it, of sitting healthily in emotions, without self-criticism or judgment. Once you can actually sit in them, they are no longer building inside. Once you can actually sit in them, they dissipate. I highly recommend this book to you as a means towards greater self-integration, emotions and all.
Think of the pig sitting in the mud. The pig allows itself to wallow there and emerges refreshed and healthier. That, simply, is my hope for you.