Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Secret of Emotional Resilience

"You're too emotional."

At some time in your life, you've probably heard this comment about you or someone else. In either case, the remark is usually meant to be extremely critical, and implies the person is unstable, incompetent, or unhealthy.

For most people, "too emotional" also insinuates the undeniable superiority of reason over emotion.

In my view, a deeper understanding of human development leads to a different conclusion: The systemic experience of feelings is critical for whole-person vitality, and emotional health sustains inspired living.

Consider this description of the typical developmental process:

In your childhood, you don't learn to skillfully and directly live with your emotions. As a result, you acquire ways of "conceptualizing" your life, "living in your head," remaining in your "comfort zone," and developing a sense of separation from your physical experiences.

Eventually, your faculty of "reason" actually becomes clouded and driven by memories, habitual thinking, and reactive emotions. When you're obscured in this way, you feel suspicious of your sensations, and avoid (deny) being present to your body in the moment. You don't feel safe being emotional, and fear the prospect of being "too emotional."

Even when you say you're feeling, you are only "thinking your emotions."

In this conceptual way of living, you are no longer "grounded" in your physical existence, and your ability to genuinely know your feelings, needs, and choices is severely impaired.

How do you overcome this debilitating limitation?

Before you attempt any changes, you need to create a safe context within yourself by making a distinction between "emotional" and "too emotional."

The word "emotional" simply refers to being openly responsive (e.g., moved, touched) and comfortably expressive with your emotions. The term "too emotional" signifies that a person is inappropriately sensitive and excessively ruled by emotions as determined by some societal or cultural standard.

You are the best person to examine this comparative role of emotions in your life. To help you explore your emotional health, consider these questions:
  • To what extent do you successfully use your emotions in your self-expression?
  • In what ways do you actively draw on and express your emotions?
Review your responses. How satisfied are you with your expression?

If you would like to enhance your ability to effectively exercise your emotions, reflect on and apply these steps:
  • Pause, breathe, and relax. Feel your body.
  • Connect with your essential nature of Peace, Love, and Joy.
  • Engage the practice of witnessing to non-judgmentally observe your various feelings, sensations, and any associated thoughts or images.
  • Identify the situational conditions and your emotions (i.e., what's happening?).
  • Clarify what you want to do, and how you want to express yourself.
If you choose to be outwardly expressive after following these steps, allow your awareness and acceptance to support the complete, skillful communication of your feelings in whatever form (e.g., written, verbal) you freely decide.

With practice in this deliberate exercise of your emotional being, you will realize that you don't have to be used or taken out by your emotions. You aren't your emotions; you have them. Your emotions (i.e., energy in motion) can be valuable indicators of the movement of life force (chi) in your bodymind. Since you're responsible for your feelings, you don't have to be afraid of being too emotional. You can choose your response!

When you consciously exercise your emotions, you break through "deadly" historical patterns, and you realize the true power of reason. In this life-affirming transformation, inspiration flows and integrates your passion, will, and wisdom.

In this way, you also remember the essential purpose and nature of being emotional. That is, as you wholeheartedly embrace your emotions and physical sensations in the midst of changing conditions, you will be able to align with your HeartVoice, and inspire your authentic self-expression.

May your feelings guide you beyond all limited concepts!

Love and Peace,
Dave


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