It’s about time you stop acting like your emotions are the bane of your existence.
For a rare few of you, that last statement does not apply. But let’s not kid ourselves here. For most of you, that last statement completely applies. You are simply not friggin’ interested in your emotions or what they have to tell you. You’d rather IGNORE, AVOID, SUPPRESS and DENY your emotions than actually look to them as the powerful tools they are. Well, if that’s so and you don’t think that’s an issue, then this post will say nothing to you that you want to hear. However, if you’re even a tad bit interested after all my antagonism, then read on!
Originally, this post was the 2nd in a 3-part series. But forget the series. If the only thing you read is this post, then you’ll begin to get ahead of the game and start to really discover the gifts your emotions have to give you.
Our emotions are powerful tools that few of us recognize as such. We often think of being emotional as being weak. This is a common misconception among us human beings. And you want to really confront this misconception. Because it is truly at the base of most misunderstandings about emotions and their integral nature to our personal power.
We, as a society, have begun this dialogue about emotional intelligence, but what do we really know about it – beyond the catch phrases and things that have been said already and so many times in the zeitgeist? More and more we are discovering the power emotions wield in the productivity of our everyday lives, and yet we still remain disconnected from the true effect and impact our emotions have on us and on our health, mental and physical. We still hold our emotions distant and separate from ourselves, like novelties to be marveled at. But, take solace. We are beginning to recognize their integral nature in our power and how our power is elevated by emotional intelligence.
Begin @ The Beginning: The Flow
Our greatest consciousness of the flow of life is our recognition of being in sync with that flow. I’m saying, that our best recognition of this “flow” of life that we’ve all heard of is when we are having a direct experience of it. Athletes call it, “being in the zone.” It is this sense we have of everything going our way. It is a sense that we are a part of something larger. It is a sense that we are in a grand flow much greater than ourselves and it is allowing us, possibly even guiding us, on a path that has all manner of things aligning as we go.
You’ve called it Providence. You’ve called it “in the flow, in the zone, in sync”… You may have called it a number of things, and something that may surprise you now is that your emotions have everything to do with your finding yourself in the midst of it. Your ability to simply be and let go begins with your emotions.
While we may rationalize our lives with logic and deduce with reason, and we may think with our minds and figure out all manner of things… (Can you feel the constriction now?) While we use our minds to great satisfaction, and for fear of not looking strong, we’ve always distinctly known that our “heart” plays an important role in how we live life and the quality of our experience. When it comes to our own evolution and our mastery of being who we are and becoming who we want to be, our emotions play the greatest part.
Emotions are a solid foundation upon which we can build a fluid relationship with this world and the people around us. Sounds crazy, huh? Emotions? Solid? Yes.
Our Explicit Trust of Us
Our emotions allow us to build trust and faith in an uncertain future that is always coming toward us. We like to only put our trust in our minds – somehow we consider that our minds will not fail us like our emotions will. But who told us not to trust our emotions? When we were babies, we trusted every emotion fully. Not even a thought in our head. Mostly because our brains are hardly formed as infants, but also because of the true temporality of emotion. Babies are such great role models and yet we take them for granted with either our fawning over their cuteness, or our annoyance when at wit’s end with the late night crying when we’re sleep-deprived.
The trouble for us as we grew up came at different junctures. It is important to note that they are all learned junctures. At every juncture, we were taught how to respond to our emotions. And mostly, we were taught a negative response.
- Don’t cry.
- Big boys don’t cry.
- Big boys don’t sulk.
- Big boys don’t whine.
- Big girls don’t whine.
- Chin up!
- Stop pouting, missy!
- Don’t you put your hands on your hips with me!
then when you got older…
- You’ve got to toughen up.
- Don’t be so sensitive.
- Don’t let it get to you.
- Don’t let your emotions get the best of you.
- Don’t let your emotions get in the way.
- Don’t lose it.
- Don’t let her/him in.
- Emotions will ruin you.
We learned there was no room for us as we were. Which was not the experience we had as babies. Well… many of us had the experience of being able to cry as babies, and for those of us who did not, this just proves my point sadly at an earlier age than most. And frankly, all of these reasons are why we have to commit to relearning patience with ourselves and our emotional life as the adults we are now, if we are to heal our emotional wounds and recover our natural power as human beings.
A Note on The Vitriol of “Weakness”
A side note here… In a number of Western societies (and frankly, other societies as well), we define being emotional as “weakness.” But wait… We also have a Western world that defines being passionate as “strength.” Merriam-Webster defines both words “emotional” and “passionate” using the word “emotion.” Yet, these two words and the values and meanings placed upon them are at opposing ends of the spectrum. How is that? Meaning much?
As a society, we place great value on strength and pay a lot of lip service to stopping others and ourselves from being “weak.” I believe in taking the meaning that empowers you. If you were given a faulty meaning regarding emotions as a child, you can always re-frame what emotions mean to you now. Context is everything. Re-framing requires much more than a mental note, and it is highly worth the effort and attention that must be paid for it to be successful. This is what it is to be human. This is our human condition.
emotion as emotion… simply
So what would it be to simply regard our emotions as emotions and nothing more? What would it be to drop all the meanings we’ve added and just deal with the thing without all the added bells and whistles on top?
Drop “weakness.” Drop the opposition perception: “emotions are weak, the mind is strong.” Drop our ideas of crying and vulnerability as weakness, and our ideas of stoicism as anything other than subterfuge (aka smoke and mirrors). Drop anything that doesn’t serve us. Just drop it.
(“Feelings, nothing more than feelings…”)
Look, you have emotions. They are integral to who you are. They are not going anywhere. They are part and parcel of this life experience. There are loads of quotes today about how important emotions are, but is that what you were taught when you were growing up? When you got slapped in the face for being impudent? When you were scolded in front of your friends for not presenting your “best face?” When you were spanked, sequestered, grounded, lectured, disciplined, or otherwise for something you couldn’t control? For being you in that present moment, however that was? Or is that quote on your wall now, reminding you to think differently than how you were taught to think?
If we confront the legacy we were given, we can continue to create a legacy for future generations – our children and children everywhere – that speaks to what we know now, to how we’re evolving, to what we’re discovering and learning anew. Emotions are brilliant. Emotions are superb. Emotions are bomb-diggity. Don’t judge me. Levity is a great equalizer. Yes! Laugh! ‘Cause we’ve got this.
And for those of you who did not forget the series, the next part in this series will deal with the temporality of emotion. Because this too shall pass…
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* Let’s be real. We all know that there are folks who actually worry about those very things. This could be you. Hopefully, however, they/you are dealing with these fears with the help of a mental health professional. If not, please seek that assistance out.