Emotional Intelligence

I experienced an emotional catharsis yesterday morning that has lead to some interesting reflections and social media dialogue. Where it came from is inconsequential but the expression of the pain really had me present to how alone I feel in my emotions, how I trust very few people to hold the space for my pain, to support me in a way that really works for me.

I thought about what I wanted. And how I could communicate that. I did some writing and some relevant and timely posts came up on Facebook that I reposted, sharing a bit of what I was experiencing which started an interesting conversation. What follows is some of that, as well as a response to a question a friend asked me. I’ve edited it to make it more clear and expand a bit on what I meant.

When I’m having a big emotion, a difficult, painful feeling, I usually feel most comfortable being alone. I’d love to be able to share this stuff more and to feel supported not just in principle but in a way that feels fulfilling, like I’ve really been gotten, understood.

How people typically deal with difficult and painful emotions is often with a response that leaves me feeling pitied, ugh! And we have a terrible compulsion to console. I DO NOT WANT TO BE CONSOLED or PITIED! I’m sure it’s stuff I’ve done to others in response to big emotions but I’m looking at it from what do I really want when I’m upset? And maybe I can start doing that more for others.

I want the strength and courage it takes to express and release this emotion to be acknowledged and I would love to find more people who I trust to hold the space for me to do that. Is that too much to ask?

From Facebook

For me, expressing the pain that came up for me this morning was about honouring an emotion that emerged. It’s taken me years to move from being numb to emotionally reactive (simply reacting to emotions), to emotionally aware (being aware of how I’m feeling-still working on this one!) to being emotionally responsive, where I can choose how I respond to emotions that come up, especially if I feel safe to express it and let it go. I’ve been getting better at being aware and letting go, it’s an ongoing journey. But that’s just me, on my own, dealing with my own stuff in the safety of my own holding and self love. I want to be able to share these emotions, yet often when I’m around others, I suppress them. I want to feel safe asking for support. That feels unrealistic and fleeting.

We seem to be so focused on being ‘positive’ that we eschew the real raw emotional stuff that comes up and tend to come back with things like 1) “It’s going to be ok.” (Said it myself to others heaps) and I’m not in doubt of that at all, and 2) generally trying to make our friends ‘feel better’ to avoid our own discomfort with big feelings.

I want to be acknowledged for the courage it takes to feel the pain openly, and to feel like it’s ok to express it, to honour it fully. I look forward to the day when our society is more emotionally open and intelligent. Until then, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and honouring my feelings in the best way I can and asking those around me to work with me on creating safety to express stuff as it arises.

I hope this is coherent. If I let my perfectionist self take over, I’d totally rework it and drastically diminish the changes of this being published. So here you go, imperfect as it is.

Day 29: Back at it

Back on track, yoga with “I love myself” mantra, meditation, mirror work (ok a loving glimpse!) and the mantra much more present in my mind in the last 24 hours. I was a bit surprised to go a whole day without it yesterday! I’ve been in service mode, with a friend staying with me because she’s unwell. I actually quite enjoy being of service, it feels purposeful, tho at times I lose myself and my practices!

After some co-working via skype I was wiped and went down for a rest. Could have stayed but after what felt like a couple of hours, I got up and started cleaning the kitchen and prepared some food for my guest. As soon as I started into it my tiredness loosened it’s grip, and a sense of purpose felt quite strong. self-love2

In my meditation I noticed a lot of oscillation from warm fuzzy self love to neutral numbness, almost mindlessly repeating the mantra, and then more sweetness and self nurturing feelings. I think the resistance was just under the surface of the neutrality and greater focus could have brought more of the warm fuzzy. Being present was also an issue. My mind is SO all over the place, it starts writing this blog post, thinking about today’s conversations, what’s on for tomorrow, what else I could be doing….. and then reminding myself to be present and adding “& I’m present” to the mantra!

I noticed as I became present to my body that I was hunched over. I straightened up and was brought back to the experience of improving my posture in the early part of the meditation when I was filling my body with light. And the same experience came to mind, erect posture brings light filled body. Yes, more of that please!

I have two days left of this blog challenge. I’m really quite pleased with myself and anticipate continuing the practices for a while yet, tho I may not write about them daily. You’re welcome to check in with me and ask how it’s going, that would be a great way to support me to keep it up! Thanks in advance for being on this journey with me. Your comments and likes have made a huge difference to me!

Day 17: Fourth Forty plus day

Fascinating that the day before my period the universe delivers three separate things to evoke difficult emotions. TMI? Deal with it, I’m feeling fierce now that that I’m bleeding. Grrrr!

Thankfully the cool change has come so I’m starting to cool down but also feeling pretty spent. Four days of forty plus weather is enough.

When I posted this image of the thermometer out back of my place I got a response from a 2014-01-17 16.17.05Canadian friend encouraging me to take care. What else can you do when it’s this hot? It’s a big imperative to take care of yourself, don’t over do it, that’s just a given. It’s a good point tho that this weather really inspires us to be gentle with ourselves, to take care of the things that are important to us (house, pets, garden…) And to help eachother while keeping our own needs at the top of the list. I’m no good to my fur babies and feathers or (human) friends if I’ve got heat stroke.

There was one point today where I found myself feeling drained. I closed the lid on my laptop and just lay on the ground, resting and kept myself cool. My menstrual cycle often really takes it out of me, and helps me remember to take care of myself, and of course honour my emotions. And so, I’m going to bed now.

Day 16: Day Three of 40+ heatwave and self love

It’s the third day in a row of temperatures above 40 degree heat. It makes everything feel more intense. heatwave

I’ve been dealing with the heat, plus a few things that inspire some upset. I resort to keeping busy to keep my feelings at bay. When I noticed sadness coming to the surface I shared it with my business partner who gave me the space to honour the feelings. How I appreciated that!

I remember seeing on Tom Lescher’s weekly Pele Report that this week would be a bit of an emotional roller coaster. Yup! The heat seems to amplify it, and maybe that’s not a bad thing. Perhaps I would have kept myself busier to deal with this grief.

I’m thinking about self love, selfishness, selflessness and being self-serving. Imagining them on different points along a spectrum, or perhaps as a constellation or in a venn diagram. I’m imagining self love being in the middle and selflessness being on one end with things like martyrdom and selfishness being on another end. Being self serving could be with selfishness or an offshoot of it. There seems to be a bit of a gray area between being self serving and being self loving. Another spectrum on creating a constellation or bubble in the venn diagram.

I remember a documentary called The Fix about drug addiction in Vancouver, the girlfriend of the main subject was portrayed as a bit of a martyr. It helped me see my own behaviour in the environmental and social justice activism I was dedicating my life to in a different light. I began to see that selflessness and selfishness can be two sides to the same coin. Sure, I cared about the Earth and all it’s inhabitants, but underneath I wanted to be right and for people to do what I thought they should do in line with my beliefs. Almost evangelical when I look at it now.

In my selfless and tireless work I burnt myself out, three times before I was 30. Not very self loving. My workaholism was martyrdom. Thankfully, my body delivered a different kind of wisdom by contracting pneumonia to get me to take care of myself and shake up my world. What was I serving? My desire to live by my principles or my self righteousness? I can see now that it was both. It doesn’t need to be one or the other.

As I explore this territory of self love the main feature that stands out is if I am nurtured by how I am being. Does it nurture me to water my fruit trees and care for my heat stressed animals? Of course, they are important to me. As long as I’m also taking care of myself, which I believe I am. It’s a nice change to be able to say that. Normally I look for what’s missing, what else I could do. Today I am happy with how well I have taken care of myself. Another thing the heat amplifies!

Day 13 : Practices, Celebration and a Meditation

I’m so grateful for the time I have in the morning to practise the “I love myself” mantra, especially before getting out of bed! It seems the best time of day to get it happening. I didn’t get yoga or meditation in today. I was out changing the duck water before anything so we could beat the heat and head early to the zoo with my partner’s sister, her daughter and bf. Before we left, I glanced in the mirror to regard myself fondly, but really it felt awkward and contrived. Lots more practice is called for on that one! Self Love daily ritual

A small self care victory I’m happy about is not getting sunburnt after two days of outdoor events. Zoo today and Midsumma Carnival yesterday. Sufficient sunscreen and balancing being in the sun and shade. Yeah, go me! Really enjoyed my time at both, saw lots of crazy and fun people at Carnival and really amazing creatures at the Zoo. I’m not normally a fan of Zoo’s but this one is remarkably impressive with their conservation ethic and educating the public about the risks human activity pose to animals. SO well done! Absolutely worthwhile.

What else is there to say about self love today? How about sharing the meditation suggested in “Love yourself like your life depends on it“? Find a piece of music you like that is soothing, relaxing and is long enough to give you a chance to chill, 7 minutes is what Kamal suggests. I prefer 10 min and I don’t generally use music. Go with what works for you. The method: Breathe in the “I love myself” mantra and breathe out anything that isn’t that. When your mind wanders, be gentle with yourself and bring the focus back to your breath. Nice and simple. This is my condensed interpretation, I really recommend just getting the ebook and getting the full story.

 

Day 12 : Mothering myself

Note to Self: Airplane mode on the mobile doesn’t mean the land line won’t ring during meditation. And doesn’t guarantee the saw used in the renos next door won’t add to the challenge of focusing during meditation. And just because a meditation doesn’t have peaceful circumstances, doesn’t mean you won’t have a sweet self loving mental embrace at the end of your meditation. Keep it up regardless of the circumstances.

Yesterday I noticed myself feeling a bit unsettled as I prepared to head out for the evening. It felt a bit like my body was trying to tell me something. I paused for a moment to check in with myself. It didn’t result in anything that helped me understand where the feeling was coming from or what to pay attention to in the time I gave it.

I noticed it come up again when I was looking out for my friend at the event we were going to. A bit of anxiousness, she’d never been there before, she isn’t from here, all the things that contribute to a mild worry. She arrived and it was all good.

When I was on my way home this feeling brought to mind a technique a friend told me about years ago. It was the kind of thing that struck me so intensely that I can still remember where I was when he told me. We were talking about dealing with being upset or having emotions that may respond well to being nurtured.mother child haring

It’s a simple self soothing technique that I have used a fair bit since then, and want to share it with you. It also feels timely given what’s happening astrologically, based on what I heard in Tom Lesher’s recent report. Emotions are expected to be a bit intense this week.

So here’s the thing, it’s very simple, the trick is to be mindful of it when you’re feeling upset. Imagine yourself being held by a mother figure, if your own mother doesn’t do it for you, imagine a universal mother, or the mother aspect of yourself. Conjure any maternal type entity that you can imagine is unconditionally loving and know that her sole purpose in this moment is to hold the space for you to feel what you’re feeling and be loving and nurturing. Imagine being small and held gently and securely in her arms. Imagine receiving the love and care from this being or aspect of yourself and just allow yourself to be with what you feel, that you have permission to simply be exactly how you are in this moment. Give yourself to this fully and when it feels time or occurs naturally, allow it to pass and know that everything is ok. You’re ok, the world is ok and you have nothing to worry about in this moment. Savor it!

Simple, yes. I didn’t say it was easy. When you’re in the thick of an emotional upset this may be the furthest thing from what you can imagine. It may help to go through the process in your mind a few times when you’re not upset and give some neural pathways a chance to form, so there is a better chance of having it come to mind when you are wanting to self soothe in a healthy way. Chocolate, alcohol, tobacco, being busy, retail therapy, these have all been what I’d turn to in the past, and some, I still use on occasion. But thankfully this technique is increasingly useful to me the more I use it. It allows me to be self loving in the most amazing way.

Day Nine: Reflections & Accomplishments

Reflecting on the last week I feel like the self love challenge has been simultaneously integrated and put to the side. I’m thankful that my mind took it on and brought it immediately to my attention as soon as I woke up the first three days. And that the next few days, tho it didn’t come immediately, I did consciously think of it soon after waking. Sometimes it was when waking well before I got up, and even went back to sleep a few times. It feels like a subconscious part of me is being diligent with having “I love myself” present at least in the first part of the day.accomplishment-key

The other times it’s easy to practise the mantra is when I’m walking the dogs, or in the shower or the loo. And when things are going well. There are times when I haven’t been great, that it’s come to mind, but not generally. It’s only been a week and tho I have had some hard stuff to deal with I find that I am generally able to reside in the positive end of the spectrum. The negative self talk is not top of mind but it may well be there guiding me subconsciously toward the easy stuff rather than calling that potential client back now that she’s returned from holidays.

I’m thankful for having written this earlier in the day and now at the end of the day feeling differently about it again. And I called that client back and made some other progress that feels good to have accomplished. Tomorrow I’m going kiteboarding, a xmas gift from my partner. Very excited about that. Anticipating using muscles I haven’t used in a very long time and thinking of ways to be self loving. Doing more strenuous yoga and stretching tomorrow morning, water resistant sunscreen for being out on the water and some more stretching and yoga afterward, especially the day after. Yup, I’m not so bad at this self loving thing after all!

Day Two: Unconditional and Vulnerable

After my luxurious bath last night I was so keen to get a blog post done that by the end of writing it i was aware of how dry my skin was. I went to put on some moisturiser, especially on my feet.foot-reflexology-massage Practised the “I love you” mantra and found that resistance I was expecting. It felt a bit contrived, and got a bit of ‘yeah whatev’ going on. I didn’t let my inner cynic deter me. I moisturised my skin and even gave my sore limbs an extra rub, amplifying the self love.

As I write, I’m very present to how much of a wank this feels like. That part of myself that subscribes to the default self loathing mentality is really strong right now, it’s not interested in how I noticed that I was scrimping a bit with the lotion and overcame the scarcity crap, using more where I’d normally finish up with ‘good enough’ and not really honour myself. It really doesn’t give a shit about realising how much I gloss over taking really good care of myself, how much I cut corners and find other priorities, other than loving myself. So make sure you don’t read any more so that part of myself can feel powerful and have some control over how much I divulge and how much light I cast on this shadow.

The other thing that occurs to me is to love that part of myself too. Hmm. How do I love a part of myself that is presenting me with barriers to self love or at least to sharing it here? Of course there’s a message, something to learn, a gift from this part of myself to become known. It’s there for a reason. Probably wants to protect me from some pain or prevent risky behaviour. Of course! That’s it. Doesn’t want me to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable is risky. Risks exposure, being seen as weak, wants to protect me from showing that part of myself that ain’t so capable and composed. There is a lot of my identity that is caught up in being seen as competent.  Over-compensation for something, I’m sure.

Today I woke up with a positive regard toward myself and this challenge. I wondered what I’d do if I loved myself, I might be more diligent with self care stuff, like washing my face, using cleanser, I even found myself combing my hair. Not something I usually do when the only thing on the morning’s agenda is walking the dogs. I usually just put on a hat. It felt natural to do these nice things for myself. I was pleased that I was doing all the good things, felt really present doing yoga and in my meditation did what the book suggested, breathing in “I love myself” and breathing out anything else. At first it felt fine, simple, light. Then some cynicism poked through. Boring and pointless, yup. Thought again about loving that part of myself and then got distracted.

As I went through my day, I noticed more “If I loved myself” stuff. To the point where it became conditional. I could love myself if I did the right things, that massive list of things I could do if I had/made time or if I loved myself enough. Then a new challenge emerged. Love myself unconditionally! Love the part of me that is a bit of a task master, the perfectionist. That old chestnut. This one might take a bit. It might take some diligence and commitment. I guess that’s what it’s all about isn’t it?!!?