These are my musings and observations on my daily life, loves and the laughter that are all a part of my experience of living now in the shires of England.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Emotions and their message

I could wax lyrical on each of the 10 negative emotions that are action signals shouting for a change in our lives ... but I’ll try to resist. Instead of taking each one in turn, and blogging at length about my experiences with them, I will, instead, go at this list in two halves. The first one now, the second 5 in a post coming to this space soon. You see, although I am keen to unveil them, I am more interested in getting to the next part of my journey. I want to share more about another group of 10: those are the 10 emotions that have enhanced my life. So with the promise of some joy in the near future I’ll return to my first 5:

1. Uncomfortableness

2. Fear

3. Hurt

4. Anger

5. Frustration

Don’t scream ‘argh’ at the screen and run away. You’re possible thinking that this is the same old, same old. You know it all already. You may well be right and if you are then, unlike me, you won’t need the help to make a change. I knew it all too, but I didn’t do anything about it. Having the knowledge and not using it is as useful as being in a room with an unexploded bomb, a manual to diffuse it and a clock that is ticking away the seconds to the inevitable explosion. It is akin to not facing the reality and running away. I guess if you did evade the reality (like I used to when confronted with an uncomfortable situation i.e. dealing with my emotions properly), then you’ll never really know how to get out of that rut.

Ruts are made deeper and more difficult to escape from when do you don’t do anything different. Time just wears away the prospects of an easy change. If you see something and stay where you are then there is a huge possibility that you will see the same thing again – because you are immobilised. Nothing new and life enhancing will happen if you don’t make a positive change. But worse things can happen to hold you down right where you are if you do nothing in the face of a dangerous situation.

Anyway, back to the list. The message I received when I feel uncomfortable or afraid is that I have to prepare to deal with something; I may not always know exactly what it is, but I do know that it is impending. When I experience the sense of being emotionally hurt I now know it originates from a perception of loss. I remember feeling hurt when I failed at something I had set my heart on and also when my expectations were unmet. I generally only feel hurt with people when I have a real relationship with them, one that has an implied or actual contract of trust and behavioural expectations. It is not often that I tell my deepest thoughts to people (despite the contents of this blog, there are still many aspects of my life that are only revealed in person and after a considerable time) and when I have shared these thought with people, and then, somehow, for some reason, they decide the intimate facts we had shared are for casual consumption, then I do feel hurt. Occasionally I have also felt anger (also on this list) because I have experienced a sense of a violation in my standards and in something important to me. These feelings will recur, but each time it will be an easier process to get past the negative emotions. A recent example happened to me this week. If this situation occurred a month, a year, a decade ago I would have reacted differently. As it is, I am already past it and have processed my hurt in a healthy way. You see, I have had trust with this one person for a long time, and this week they let slip a phrase that was deeply offensive to me, but was obviously part of his regular parlance. It appeared that for a moment he forgot who he was talking to and what he was talking about. Now I could view this as a positive thing that he felt comfortable enough to speak unguarded, but as soon as the phrase was out of his mouth I knew, as did he, that years of trust had been disintegrated. The slur, said with emphasis in the retelling of a situational conversation, was a bit like a flag-raising ceremony. The true colours were on show. He immediately, apologised and tried to make light of it. I ended the conversation shortly afterwards and took several hours (instead of several months) to decide how to proceed with the pain I felt.

With both the hurt and the anger I have had to search long and hard to discern what within myself I need to change in order to be free from those emotions. This time, I found my happy solution quickly. What works for me may not work for you because this is not a one-size-fits-all world, but you will know what is best for you when you reach it: I did.

There is always something I can, and have, changed that reduces the possibility of feeling the same hurt again. Something that is positive for me. It is amazing that even these situations that start out painful can have a valuable and positive outcome – because they teach me something that helps me to grow.

The frustration (the final emotion on this half of this randomly created list) usually happens to me when I feel hindered or held back in some way. I have learnt that when I am frustrated I either need to become flexible to the situation that caused this emotion to raise its head in my life like the Loch Ness Monster or to change my approach. I am happy to say that both methods have been used with great success. And the monster quickly retreats to the bottom of the Loch. It’s not gone completely; it’s just submerged for a long while. And during that time I will enjoy the respite and focus on the emotions that occur in my life that enhance my life. Because there are many more positive emotions that negative ones I’m glad to say.

I can say that with a smile and a sense of happiness, because it is so true in my life.

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