Emotions are an interesting thing…

Emotions. Chemical reactions that happen in the brain. They are scary things sometimes.  They can lead to outcomes that are unexpected and bodily sensations that are uncomfortable.  Taking a minute to understand emotions and how they play out in the body can offer a smidge more empowerment towards controlling your responses in an charged situation.

Take for instance the sense of rejection. This may come from a friend, family member, work situation, car salesman, some kind of external environment – or be entirely made up in your own mind.  There have been situations in life whereby whatever circumstances I have perceived the situation to be one of rejection. Cue brain overload with indignation, arguments with invisible people in my mind, increase of heart rate, increase of shallow breathing, a release of adrenaline (depending on how successful I am in the argument in my head) – there is a full body response. 

Then comes the funny part.  The part where the situation is resolved through communication.  You get an email, a phone call, have a chat with the person who you are feeling ‘rejected’ by and you discover that their reality of what happened is vastly different to yours.  A misunderstanding! A miscommunication! You realise that your expectations and internal dialogue played a large role in the emotional (and physical) experience.  The context was all made up, built off a foundation that didn’t exist for anyone except myself, yet the experience of ‘being rejected’ was very real. 

If we take a view at this through Gestalt theory, the old habit of immediately jumping to a ‘rejection’ headspace may be a learnt protection which goes on to also prevent personal growth. The ability to step back objectively and take responsibility for what’s happening within your body and mind is a form of growth itself.  It can be incredibly uncomfortable. Like all things that facilitate growth, it may be painful and it’s totally worth it.  Think of teeth, think of growing pains as our bones and joints develop, think of any learning phase for a new skill set. Without growth we become stagnant, stuck, and disconnected.  There are many filters in which we can view our mind-body connection and how our brains impact our body and vice versa.  This is one example that most people can likely relate to on some level. 

Through the willingness to look at what’s happening in real time, it allows me to take actions towards decreasing the impact on my mood and my physical body.  I still feel rejected; I do a quick body scan to notice where the tension is, I breathe a little deeper, I look at why the feeling of rejection in this situation hurts, what was I attached to? Was it really a rejection of me or was it that I had in built expectations that were not being met? Perhaps I reframe my thinking around the ‘what happened’ and see if that takes some of the sting away.  Ultimately, I am the one who has to deal with this emotion and how I let it land on me.  In most cases, I look for a lesson or a value that I can take away in an effort to progress my own growth.  It still may hurt, now like growing teeth or learning how to do a handstand, that hurt serves a purpose.

These chemicals have very real implications for life and how you see things.

Be brave and kind to yourself!

Strength is an interesting thing…

Strength, like all things, needs to be balanced.  How does one balance strength?  What do we temper it with?  In the same way that people view muscle bulk (the physical example of ‘strength’ for this example) in differing lights, we can also view the emotional presence of strength in different ways too.  Linking back to the physical example, from a functional perspective muscle bulk needs to create force in all ranges for it to be useful.  Otherwise you’re left with bulk that serves little purpose other than to look at (which may be the goal in some cases).

What do we need to know to create emotional strength that can serve us in a useful manner?  Excellent question.  A great place to start is with emotional intelligence and self-awareness.  Being able to demonstrate strength and then back it up with the foundation of self-reflection and self-care is vital to strength being available on a consistent basis.  If we reserve all our emotional fortitude for the workplace, or one relationship in particular, the rest of our sphere begins to suffer or be drained.  This may be situationally necessary to ‘get through’ a rough time, yet being able to return to self-awareness and subsequently apply self-care strategies is vitally important.

Another component, okay 2 components, in my mind are the ability to be humble and flexible.  Whilst having a goal and backing it with a strong mental fortitude is important, being a bull at a gate may come at a cost.  For better or worse (usually better, perspective pending) we live in a world filled with other people.  If you are striving to achieve a goal, involving others may be inevitable.  The ability to be humble and openly listening to other’s ideas demonstrates strength of character and ultimately good leadership.  Being humble and flexible doesn’t take away from your values, staying true to your core values is an important part of strength of character.  How much more respect do you have for someone who is strong in character, yet humble and flexible in nature?

How do we build emotional strength that is functional and balanced? Introspection, conversation, and the willingness to look at yourself honestly. After those steps are done, or even whilst your moving through the process, take the action.  Action is how we show up to others, and ultimately who we are for other people is the demonstration of who we are in life.

Get amongst it.