This weekend, ten Kansas City sharks ran a Rugged Maniac. A 5k with obstacles, this one was up and down a ski hill. Did I mention the rain and 45 minute lightning delay? No? Yeah, that happened, too.

Most of our group was on their first obstacle course race (OCR). My favorite part was not just that they got to experience the race, but they got to see the OCR spirit. See, on the course, everyone helps everyone. Even if you don’t know the other person, you make sure they are OK. You help them up an obstacle, or give them a boost. You aren’t competing against them, after all – it’s you vs. the race, and against yourself.

After the lightning delay, there was a bunch up at a slip wall obstacle. As we helped each other over the top, there was one young lady in particular who was giving everything she had, but didn’t have the strength and training to pull herself over. In the end, two or three racers helped her from below, and two or three from above, and the rest of 40 or so racers in the area (only 2 who knew her) cheered her on. She made it over, of course. We would not have let her fail.

Afterwards I was talking to one of our first timers; she told me she teared up a little watching. I said, “This is why I love what we do at the foundation – this is what it’s all about. That feeling of accomplishment that you have right now? That feeling she got? Everyone deserves to feel that.”

Feel The Feels

If you read much of Amy Summers’ work (which – if you haven’t, you absolutely should!) or mine, you are probably familiar with the phrase “Feel the feels”. It may seem obvious what that means – to recognize and accept whatever emotions you are experiencing. The extension is knowing the value of those emotions, and letting them run their course. Life has a way of throwing curves at us, and sometimes we can feel overwhelmed with emotion – love, anger, depression, sadness, or any other.

When we talk about feeling the feels we are saying that those emotions are valid. You are entitled to feel overwhelmed, even though society tends to look at this as a sign of weakness. That leads men and women both to swallow it down, force themselves to go on and not deal with it. That is where the pressure really starts to grow. The stress builds up inside until we snap. Minds get lost, stacks get blown; it can get very ugly very quickly. In fact, you can actually help yourself mentally by embracing those feelings and releasing them.

I Understand Dry-Mouthedness

See, if I’m thirsty. I don’t want you to bring me a glass of water, I want you to sympathize. I want you to say, “Gloria, I too know what it feels like to be thirsty. I too have had a dry mouth.” I want you to connect with me through sharing and understanding the concept of dry mouthedness.

Gloria (Rosie Perez), White Men Can’t Jump, 1992

At times like this, it can be frustrating to run into a “fixer”. When the fixer hands down a “simple solution” to the issue you have been working out, they can take away your right to your emotional state. The impression is that they know better, and you are not capable of solving the issue. If you already are feeling like a failure from being emotionally overwhelmed, this only makes it worse.

It’s almost instinctive to offer a solution when someone is venting. Often, we tend to share examples designed, intentionally or not, to make the conversation about ourselves – things like, “I know, like the other day when Fred did something to me!” Trying to help has it’s place, but sometimes you just need to listen. Let the person know they have the right to that feeling and you support them – as long as they don’t build a home there.

This is the rub, and where society starts to cast side-eye – when people settle in and get swallowed up by their emotions for the long term. Yes, you can feel sad. You can even get overwhelmed by that sadness for a day, two days… but if it becomes unshakable, find help. Talk to a friend, find a therapist, don’t get dragged down. Go run an OCR – that will renew your faith in humanity!

“Have your one good cry, pick your chin up, smile, and move on to the positive.”

– Auliq Ice

Don’t be afraid to feel the feels. Let your emotions process, then put them in the past and look forward. You will be stronger for it!