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  • Gary Borland

#54 Unearthing

Rooting out the emotions beneath our reactions and behaviours.

In the previous Blog we looked at how the suppression of our emotions often starts when we are very young and continues into adulthood. To varying degrees, it shapes what we think of ourselves, what we think of others, and impacts joy, fulfilment and peace in our lives. Over the years there has been much debate about whether emotions are suppressed or repressed. In either case, what’s clear is that it doesn’t take long for us to lose touch with the meaning of some of our early emotions and for us to replace their original meaning with something we thought was more acceptable to ourselves or others.

If you find yourself wondering if this applies to you, consider asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is there anyone in your family, friendship group or work who you find it challenging to be around when they act or behave in a particular way?

  • What do you say about that person – either to yourself or someone else?

  • What emotions do you experience in the presence of the other person’s behaviours?

  • What is your pattern of behaviour that accompanies these emotions?

  • What meaning have you given your experience? This could be about yourself, about the other person or something else.

If you were able to answer these questions quickly and with a fair amount of certainty, it’s likely there’s more to explore. Taken either individually or collectively, both the questions and possible responses are likely to be multi-layered, complex and require space to give them serious consideration. Our capacity to engage authentically with our emotions comes with practise, and like new muscle, it grows and increases over time. Try answering these questions to unpack this a bit more:

  • What alternative meanings could you give the experience you described previously?

  • Using your answer, what are the possible alternatives to the emotion(s) you first described?

Courage requires vulnerability. Choice is at the centre of powerful vulnerability. The great thing is that we have choice available to us far more often than we might acknowledge. Deciding that we have no choice is actually a choice. Noticing something that’s adversely impacting the joy, fulfilment and peace in our lives and doing nothing to address it is a choice. In the previous Blog we offered one definition of authenticity: “The quality of being true to oneself, and the capacity to shape one’s own life from a deep knowledge of that self”.

Perhaps the most damaging impact of not being able to authentically connect with our emotions is that we’re not aware of the impact on our lives. We experience emotions but may not know what they are and what they mean. Seeing a deeper connection between our current reactions or behaviour and the emotions we experience can begin to reveal the impact of the past on our present and start to free us to respond to what’s really going on now.

For most of us, living with purpose and meaning is directly correlated with our capacity for authentic connection with ourselves and others. Being in an enquiry about our authenticity and relating that to better understanding ourselves and our emotions is likely to yield a healthy crop over time. In our experience, it’s unlikely that much will change unless we train the muscle of enquiry. Here’s a link to Blog #49 Enquire about Enquiries. Like any investment, if you put a small amount in, don’t expect a lot out. But those small investments add up and the benefits can begin to snowball, so invest in whatever way you are able and watch the fruit grow.


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