“Whatever good things we build end up building us.” ~ Jim Rohn
I love stability, don’t you? It’s kind of like driving. We want our cars to ride smoothly, but there are always bumps in the road. That’s why we need emotional stability. Like shock absorbers, being emotionally stable allows us to withstand and handle adversity while we still keep moving forward.
However, because life is always changing, it’s vital to have a system for fully experiencing the highs, the lows and everything in between.
For day-to-day stresses, you can maintain emotional stability by using methods such as meditation, becoming more mindful, exercise and restorative sleep.
But life often throws things at us that we’re not prepared to handle. People are confronted with tragic circumstances like life-changing health issues, death of a loved one, divorce, physical and/or sexual abuse, violence, accidents, and so much more. We’re not born knowing how to deal with these things. And it’s quite possible that no one in your immediate family or circle of friends has had to deal with them either, so they can’t help you.
If you’ve experienced an emotional crisis that has thrown you completely off balance, what can you do to regain emotional stability?
A momentary lapse in behavior does not make you emotionally unstable. The emotional instability I’m talking about is caused by a lifetime of repressed emotions, tamping them down instead of experiencing emotions in a healthy manner. That’s when we become unstable and ungrounded.
It’s like a thorn in your finger that leads to an infection, except it’s an emotional splinter in your heart and soul. It’s always raw and sore. It limits what you can do, because you’re preoccupied with the wound. And since you tell yourself that it’s ugly, you try to keep it hidden.
How can you clear out emotional debris?
You can’t just dig around your festering wound superficially. That would be like getting part of the thorn out, but leaving the tip. You must get to the bottom of it and fully feel the entire range – the breadth and depth of your emotion. Painful? Yes! But that’s the way healing occurs.
Many people keep their calendars so booked that they don’t have time to think. I suggest you clear some time, perhaps even devoting the next year to making your emotional hygiene a priority. Make the commitment to take time to experience your emotions fully as they arise. In that way, you can develop a reliable system for emotional stability.
Developing or regaining emotional stability will not happen overnight. It’s going to take time and practice. Your progress will depend on how long you can sit with your deeply disturbing emotions like sadness, anger, or fear.
Here’s how to do it: Each time you feel a wave of that emotion, find a quiet place by yourself and go deeply into it. If you’re feeling sad, think about the saddest things in your life. Then just cry it out until there’s nothing left. (If the thought of doing this frightens you or if you’re struggling with PTSD, depression or anxiety, please consult with a mental health care professional who can support you through this process.)
The point is to start by thinking of the ugliest, most painful thoughts and letting that feeling take you over and flow out through your tears, thoughts, and breaths. Once you’ve released that emotion, you can go on with your day. You’ll discover that each wave of emotion, on average, only lasts 90 seconds.
As you crash through each emotional wave, you’re closer to calmness and serenity. Learning the process of experiencing emotions fully makes life easier. It allows you to experience new emotions without them taking over your whole day. You can get past it without doing damage to yourself or others.
Regaining emotional stability after a crisis is much easier when you have a safe place to be heard and supported. Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to help you practice greater awareness and coping techniques.
“To confront a person with his own shadow is to show him his own light”. ~ Carl Jung
Have you given away your power?
Perhaps it started years ago… Many times when we’re young and go through a crisis – caused by divorce, death, illness, or abuse – we never have the room to explores and process all of the emotional polarities that come along with these experiences.
As a kid, you think you have to be mature. You have to show your parents, teachers and friends that you’re fine, that you can handle it… But what you’re really doing is learning to suppress or disown your real self.
As a child trying to protect yourself, you put on a persona. The problem is that persona lives on and you may stop yourself from saying things you want to say; you hide your emotions or your pretend to feel something that you don’t. You show the world a censored version of yourself.
In time, we can bury our authentic self so deeply that we actually lose sight of who we really are. The persona you put on as a child, or Shadow Self, is still there under the surface causing havoc. (Read my previous blog post that explains your Shadow Self.)
To accept your true self you have to identify, acknowledge and own the repressed parts (the good, the bad and the ugly) you may have been denying for years. Consciously integrating your shadow self allows you to reclaim the power you once gave away. It enables you to recognize your uniqueness and the gifts you have. The ultimate result? Total self-acceptance brings inner peace.
This process isn’t easy. To reclaim your disowned parts recognize that…
- You can’t bypass your past experiences and the unfelt emotions.
- You can’t get rid of emotions like you can’t get rid of energy. They can only be transformed (emotions = energy in motion).
- You must bring adult witnessing, compassion and understanding to those young parts to foster healing.
- You prolong the disattunement (lack of harmony) that you experienced while growing up by failing to attune to your emotional needs in adulthood.
Are you ready to make room for your younger self? Integration is the healing process of identifying, acknowledging, embracing unprocessed emotions from childhood.
This process involves embracing both sides of your emotional polarities. What does this mean? You can’t have confidence without insecurity; humility without arrogance; compliance without rebellion; tenderness without hardness.
As you read these emotional polarities (opposites), did you judge one emotion as good and one as bad? Is it hard to acknowledge that you possess some of them?
In these polarities, neither emotion is right or wrong, good or bad. They just are. And we need to acknowledge that we possess them without judgment.
I’m not advocating that you unleash your emotions on others without restraint. I am saying it’s important to mindfully acknowledge how you feel, reclaim your feelings, process those feelings, and then express them in productive, non-destructive ways.
It can be very telling when you feel inordinately irritated when you see such qualities in others. Often this is triggered because you’ve disowned this quality within yourself. Ask yourself:
- Why does this aspect of a polarity bother me?
- How do I hold its counterpoint?
- Why do I view it this way?
- When did I start to disown this in myself?
- Was it because of what someone said or something I experienced?
- What was the context then?
- What is the context now?
- What will happen when I acknowledge this disowned polarity in myself?
It’s a fact of life that emotional polarities exist within all of us. Bringing them to the surface and acknowledging them enables you to free energy that you can productively use in your personal growth. This is so much better than continuing to feel irritated when you see it in yourself or others.
You can become resilient, successful and capable despite your difficult or traumatic past experiences. I’d love to partner with you on your journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance. Please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
“We tend to think that vulnerability is associated with weakness, but there’s a kind of robust vulnerability that can create a certain form of strength and presence too.” ~ David Whyte
Do you have secrets you’ve never shared with anyone? Perhaps something that happened to you as a child? Maybe it’s simply a feeling that is so raw you’re too uncomfortable to share it with anyone?
All of us have secrets we hide from others and perhaps even from ourselves. (Carl Jung called this our Shadow Self.) We hide what we dislike about ourselves or feel is unacceptable because we want to feel safe, respected or accepted. If we reveal how we really feel deep inside, we’re afraid we’ll be rejected.
When do you develop this Shadow Self? And how does it undermine your life, your relationships and your sense of purpose?
Your Shadow Self is usually developed in your childhood. Maybe your parents or teachers taught you what they’d been taught – “don’t cry, pull yourself up by your booth straps, put on a smile, be strong.” You got the message that it’s good to bottle up or choke back your emotions. Overtime you came to view certain emotions and qualities as “bad” so they must be hidden when you feel them.
It’s a lie.
Denying your emotions actually makes you weak, needy and more vulnerable to life events. Sadly, most of us walk around cut off from our body – the vessel for our emotional experiences – and live our lives from our thinking mind only. This makes us incomplete.
While working with hundreds of clients, I’ve discovered that there’s usually a pattern underlying current challenges. At some point in our past, most of us thought we had to leave behind or abandon our younger self to survive and become an adult.
But that Shadow Self is still there under the surface. Often it shows up as unresolved issues, limiting beliefs or unchallenged “truths” along your journey to adulthood. The associated emotions may disastrously resurface as anxiety, depression, or illness.
When this happens our reflex is to push our Shadow Self back, to get rid of it or deny it. It feels foreign, scary and confusing to acknowledge your past hurt, sadness, grief, or loss. You want to just forget it and keep it in the shadows.
How can dredging up the past possibly bring you closer to healing?
It’s common to imagine that embracing your disowned emotions will devastate you and interfere with your ability to be a functional adult. Yet the truth is that you’re not operating at full capacity when you’re not connected with those parts you have disowned. You are literally missing parts of yourself.
As a child, we have a coping mechanism; we develop adaptive skills to keep the disowned ones hidden. For example when you disown vulnerability you might:
- Develop an inner perfectionist to avoid feeling “less than” when making mistakes.
- Develop a tough exterior, becoming overly self-reliant and independent so you’re not disappointed and hurt by others.
- Develop a need to take care of everyone else because no one is taking care of you.
Yet the truth about vulnerability is that it can be empowering if we develop what David Whyte, my favorite poet, calls “robust vulnerability.” This seemingly counter-intuitive concept is to allow vulnerability into your life so that it strengthens you from the inside.
Do you see how these adaptive skills can keep you from realizing your wholeness and true self? Your Shadow Self keeps you from letting your light, your true brilliance, shine. And when you’re always trying to hide who you are, you won’t have the energy to forge close, rich relationships. (In reality, you’re not hiding it very well either.)
The good news is that you can become whole again! You can learn to welcome, deeply hear, understand, and value everything about yourself, even the disowned parts of your Shadow Self. Then you can integrate them back into who you are and how you express yourself.
For some this can be quite challenging and frightening to do alone. I’d love to support you on your journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance. Please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
Isn’t it time to “see and embrace the elephant in the room” and finally take the steps to feel whole and in harmony with who you’re meant to be?
“Love is an untamed force. When we try to control it, it destroys us. When we try to imprison it, it enslaves us. When we try to understand it, it leaves us feeling lost and confused.” ~ Paulo Coelho
You love your parents. You love your children. You love your life-long best friend you’ve had since grade school. You love your romantic partner. You love them all, but not in the same way. Each one holds a special and unique place in your heart.
Why is it that we immediately “fall in love” with some people, while not others? Just to give you an example: I’ve become acquainted with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s work (www.chimamanda.com). And I immediately felt a strong connection with her. What she says and her way of being really resonates with me. She’s funny, graceful, authentic, and the kind of powerful person that makes me proud to be a woman. So I’ve fallen in love with her and have adopted her as my new role model.
From a biological point of view, love is fundamentally chemistry. While lust is a temporary sexual state caused by the release of chemicals such as testosterone and estrogen, true love is caused by the release of a whole range of chemicals such as pheromones, dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, oxytocin and vasopressin.
From an evolutionary standpoint, love can be viewed as a survival mechanism because it holds the family and community together for mutual security and shared resources.
The word “love” is confusing, because in English we have just one word to describe so many emotional states. It would be so much better to follow the example of the ancient Greeks who had numerous words to describe the various feelings of love:
- Philia – the deep intimacy between close friends or family members.
- Ludus – the playful affection like flirting.
- Storge – affection within the moment similar to when you see a child do something adorable.
- Pragma – the mature love that develops over a long period of time between committed couples who actively practice goodwill and understanding.
- Agape – the generalized love for all of humanity.
- Philautia – the self-love that we need in order to care for others.
- Eros – the sexual passion and infatuation, which fades unless it turns into a deeper love like philia or pragma.
Even growing up in Italy we distinguished between love towards family and friends by saying: “Ti voglio bene’” and towards a romantic partner using the phrase: “Ti amo.”
Love is never static. It’s expansive. Your heart will never be too full to accept another love. However, it needs to be nurtured and expressed in acts of kindness, generosity and self-sacrifice to stay alive and active.
You can be open to accepting love, but you can’t dictate how, when and where love strikes. You can’t make somebody love you. Love usually arrives in our lives without warning. You can’t buy it. Sell it. Imprison it.
True love is so powerful that it can never hurt anyone. Although, it may cost you dearly because it gives you the courage to speak up and stand up for what you believe in. While it comes freely, it creates an unbreakable bond, one that can be stronger than death. There is nothing it can’t face. If you have love you have a blessed life.
Yet sadly, too many people live without love. They’ve been abused. They’re too busy. Or their fears keep love away. They feel unloved, unworthy, unappreciated. The good news is that anyone can change their situation.
If you’d like to experience deeper, more meaning connections in your life, remember change starts within you. Please check out the Women in Leadership Retreat I’m leading with my close friend Nando Raynolds on May 20 and 21. Everyone gets to choose their own goal to work on so creating loving relationships could be yours. Or feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation, in-person, by phone or via Skype.
“Real connection and intimacy is like a meal, not a sugar fix.” ~ Kristin Armstrong
Does the idea of being emotionally intimate sound amazing or scary to you? Fear keeps many people distant from others. As a result, they become loners or social butterflies that flit from one encounter to another, collecting acquaintances but no real friendships.
Either way they feel empty inside. It’s the difference between having a burger versus an avocado salad for lunch. The first one looks delicious but it has no nutritional value. The second one is deeply nourishing and the benefits can last for a long time.
If you carry such fear, be assured that it’s possible to get rid of the fear. You can experience the exquisite joy of connecting with another person emotionally, intellectually and spiritually – that endeavor we call intimacy.
We all need close friends who are there for us through good times and bad. They are the people who love and accept us for who we are. There are two things that will help you be more comfortable forming intimate relationships.
First, you need to accept yourself the way you are.
When you learn to be mindful, fully aware of yourself, you can be authentic and open with others. When you learn to listen to yourself and trust yourself then you can truly listen and trust others.
“Intimacy simply means that the doors of the heart are open for you, you are welcome to come in and be a guest. But that is possible only if you have a heart which is not stinking with repressed sexuality, which is not boiling with all kinds of perversions, which is natural – as natural as trees, as innocent as children. Then there is no fear of intimacy.” ~ Osho
If you long for intimacy, you have to be willing to drop your defenses, repressions, and inhibitions and be vulnerable. If you’re living a simple, natural life there will be no fear of intimacy, only abundant joy and fulfillment. But if there are scars and wounds that you’re trying to hide, these will need to be healed and mended. Otherwise, you’ll always be afraid that someone will “find out”.
These hurts will no longer have power over you when you let them go, because you’ve rid yourself of self-condemnation and judgment. You accept that you don’t have to be perfect. You no longer lose respect, greatness, or ego, because you’re not focused on those things any longer.
Second, you must open up fully to others and let them get to know the person you are inside.
Platonic intimacy goes deeper than everyday ‘small talk’. It takes time. Lasting friendships grow from having a common interest or shared passion. It’s not that you want to sleep together, but you want to work together towards a common goal. And your differences in opinion and outlook bring richness to the friendship.
Look at the friends or acquaintances you already have and see if there isn’t someone you’d like to get to know better on a deeper level. Look for your common ground and start sharing deeper thoughts and feelings on that topic. Remember, intimacy takes willingness to be vulnerable, to share yourself and risk hurt and rejection. You’ll achieve it only when you’re being deliberate, consistent and exquisitely attentive.
If you’re struggling with how to build intimate relationships, please check out the Women in Leadership Retreat that my intimate friend Nando Raynolds and I are leading on May 20 and 21. We can work with you on this particular goal. Or feel free to contact me and schedule a one-on-one “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation, in-person, by phone or via Skype.