This is such an interesting topic for me because I feel like I have lived a split life. In the first half, I came very much from my headspace…logical, rational, using mostly my common sense rather than my heart. It really has only been in the last several years that I’ve learned and allowed myself to also come from my heart space…more understanding, loving and kind.
Growing up, our house was not one where emotions or being emotional were valued. Emotions were something to be kept private, not shared. When I did express myself emotionally it always ended up in a disagreement or met with silence. So I learned that emotions should be kept under wraps and created the belief that people don’t appreciate it when you get upset, angry, or sad. They also don’t know what to do with effusive happiness, excitement or love.
I partnered my upbringing with a career in law enforcement where common sense was the name of the game. Of course, I was impacted by the things I saw, heard, and experienced, but arriving to a situation that was out of control required me to hold onto my emotions. Keeping my distance allowed me to act professionally until the situation was resolved. Putting a lid on emotions had its consequences though. Like a teakettle, if you don’t allow the steam to escape naturally, something is going to blow! For me, it would show up as frustration, impatience, criticalness, sarcasm and occasionally anger. I could hear myself when I was acting this way but I couldn’t stop the momentum of emotions that had been imprisoned for too long. I would see-saw from long periods of containment to brief explosions of release.
The saving grace was that over the years I had developed a handful of close friendships that remain to this day. This was my inner circle. The chosen few that I had built trust and understanding with. The ones who swam the moat, scaled the castle walls, and broke down the door of my self-imposed isolation. They knew me, accepted me, and loved me. And I, them. With these friends, I finally felt acceptance and support. It opened me up and showed me that true connection, compassion and understanding can only happen when we share who we authentically are, emotions and all. I also began to see that not everyone was going to be willing to go to all that work to get to know me. I was going to be the one to leave the room, let down the drawbridge, and welcome people into my castle.
So, I did. It happened slowly and over time. I let go of the long-held belief that vulnerability meant weakness. That I always had to be strong. That people would think less of me if I was honest with my emotions. I showed up anyway. With myself and with others. I allowed how I felt to become more and more an integral part of how I live. Balancing my head with my heart. Both equally important partners. The irony is that by doing this I enjoy deeper connections now with more people in all areas of my life. I am more in tune and in balance with myself. Emotions come and go and I allow myself to feel them and listen to their messages. I no longer force them to hide and then deal with the consequences of when they escape.
Going forward with greater ease.