The Ups & Downs of Showing Your Dark Side

The Ups & Downs of Showing Your Dark Side

by Esther on 20 augustus 2011

Few things are as hard as actually practicing what you preach.

I’m all for keeping it real and speaking your mind.

But when it comes to my own emotions, I still find myself holding back, searching for the right words, or regretting I spoke up altogether.

It adds up and adds up, until one night the tears start to flow and there seems to be no end to the stream. Preferably late in the evening after a day full of tension, when I’m all tired and wasted and I should really shut my mouth and go to sleep and have some rest.

It’s like pulling the plug out of the bath tub.

Crying For Relief?

For most people, showing their vulnerability and crying in the arms of a loved one is followed by a great sense of relief.

For me, it’s followed by feeling a lot more miserable than before and a day or two of recovery. Bags under eyes, strong cups of coffee and long walks in the park recovery. Crying doesn’t make me feel any better. Letting my emotions flow actually makes me feel worse.

When I’m in such a bad mood, one thought follows the other and I start to doubt pretty much every aspect of my life.

And I forget how grateful I am every day for being alive, healthy and around such loving people.

I just forget.

The Upside of Feeling Like Crap

When I feel happy, I have to consciously sit down and do my creative work. The days go by so fast that another week passes in the blink of an eye.

But when I’m in a bad mood – be it angry, sad, frustrated or all of them at the same time – I don’t have to force myself to create. I need that space to share my feelings, regardless of what triggered them.

When I suffer is when I create the most.

Maybe there’s truth in the myth of the suffering artist?

Do you create more when you’re in a bad mood? What’s it like to show your vulnerable side?

  • Keith Smith

    Hello Esther,

    I found this post very interesting! I think you’ve hit upon a truth here. I think that extreme, intense feelings and emotions must have a way to get out. For some it may be anger, depression, laughter or whatever. For those who are in touch with their inherent creativity, their method of being creative is the way those intense emotions find release. My thoughts anyway. :-)

    • Hi Keith, welcome here & glad you liked it! I’ve only recently started tapping into my creativity. Before, I didn’t see myself as a creative person. As you can probably tell, I wasn’t feeling too well when I wrote this piece, but I decided to publish it anyway: both the positive and the negative are a part of me. And I think using creative skills to express my feelings is an excellent way to find relief. Have a nice day! :)

      • Keith

        I like what you said here, “both the positive and the negative are a part of me”. That’s a very wise statement Esther! :-)

        Yes! Using creative skills is a GREAT way to find relief. I use music in this way and often post it on my blog, which in turns blesses others! So cool

  • My struggles usually lead to my best work, too, though not always right away. But there’s definitely something to be said about adversity building character. I try to embrace the tough times and feel them 100%. I left my girlfriend in Spain two weeks ago and let myself cry and feel the sadness completely. I felt alive.

    Thanks for this post.

    • As painful as that is, it’s nice that letting out your emotions makes you feel better in the end. I wish I’d feel alive for crying, but I usually feel pretty killed afterwards 😉 Having said that, not expressing our feelings is worse. There’s no measuring the tension that causes on the inside.

      Here’s to feeling alive (even on Wednesdays)!

  • Pea

    I can’t create when I am down and yet I feel it is a driver for a lot of creativity – mine and a lot of other people’s. I don’t do vulnerable side. I am not lucky enough to have people I trust surrounding me to share it – but this is a vulnerable post, is that intentional to help you become better at it? I’m interested as to why you feel worse having leant on the shoulder of a loved one?

    • That’s a contradiction that I would find hard to handle: to have the downside fuel creativity, without feeling able to express it at that moment. Do you manage to express it creatively afterwards, when you’re feeling better?

      I’m sorry to hear you don’t feel like you can trust your close people with your vulnerable side. Maybe that is true; maybe it is you feeling you don’t trust them with such personal things, whereas they would be more supportive than you’d imagine if you did share. Of course, that’s a risk only you can decide to take or not.

      It was a vulnerable post indeed, because I wrote it amidst the chaos and I knew it wouldn’t be the killer positive post that would resonate with a lot of people. But I wanted to publish it anyway, to not only show my sunny side and hence paint a skewed picture of myself on my blog.

      It’s amazing to have a loved one to fall back on and I’m very grateful for that. It’s mostly the crying and hard conversations in those moments that exhaust me. Emotions exhaust me.

      Thanks a lot for stopping by :)

      • Pea

        Yes, sorry – I didn’t make that clear. I can’t physically do much when down but it is expressed when I’m back up there on the happy cloud and have the emotional and physical energy to finish the job.

        I’m always open minded (I believe) and my conclusion about the people closest to me is based on experience. It would be lovely if they had the maturity to help a vulnerable person, then I could lean on someone else for a change rather than be leaned on, but that is not the case.

        I personally don’t find posts that are positive ‘killer’ – Posts that simply chime with a lot of people seem to be the killer ones and granted that might not be this particular subject…but it might be too…

        Ah, I see it’s the outpouring of emotions that finish you off, I get it.

        Peace. : )

  • You’ve brought up an interesting point. Extreme feelings cause creativity because the person needs to release that energy. My whole blog began because of experience some weird trauma. That’s the best way I can describe it but it’s proof that extreme emotions cause creativity and it’s good to show your vulnerable side too. Then people can resonate and be brave enough to share that too. It’s a cascading effect.

    • Hi Matt, good to have you here! Nice to see you resonate with this. It’s energy, indeed. Turning negative (traumatic) energy into positive (creative) energy is a great way to exhale. And it’s even better when others feel encouraged to present their true and vulnerable self as well.

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  • Esther,

    I don’t know how you are creative when you are down but, I am glad that it works for you. For me I am the most creative when I am feeling really good.

    I always hate it when I feel down because it is on those days that I do not seem to get anything done.

    I liked your post, it made me think about when I am the most creative. Maybe it will help as I will work harder during the times that I feel I am creative.

    Dee Ann Rice

    • Hi Dee Ann, thanks for dropping by :) For me, it’s mostly that I write a lot more and use my writing to release frustrations when I’m not feeling so well. I do get that lethargic feeling you describe and I hate it… but when I feel amazing, more of my time is spent doing stuff away from the laptop.

      Glad you liked the tale. Use your peak creative times to your advantage, but don’t work too hard, we all need a good break too :)

    • Hi Dee Ann, thanks for dropping by :) For me, it’s mostly that I write a lot more and use my writing to release frustrations when I’m not feeling so well. I do get that lethargic feeling you describe and I hate it… but when I feel amazing, more of my time is spent doing stuff away from the laptop.

      Glad you liked the tale. Use your peak creative times to your advantage, but don’t work too hard, we all need a good break too :)