The Courage to Show Your Emotions

I was embarrassed.  I was incredibly vulnerable in front of a good friend yesterday and it left me feeling as if I lost a great deal of respect in her eyes.  I was also embarrassed to have been that self-doubting, angry, and fearful.  Did I get great support and true help seeing a different perspective?  I did.  Did her support help me get through those emotions that were stuck in me like an unbroken piñata?  Yep.  But I felt like it was at the cost of my ego, my pride, and my ability to stand alone.  In truth, it was those things which were blocking the intense feelings I had from moving through me.  

I could’ve turned off. I could’ve kept my emotions to myself, pasted on a big old smile, and enjoyed the time with my friend.  It would’ve been a pleasant experience for both of us.  We would have walked and talked for twenty minutes, then I would’ve been on my way.  I would have still been filled with self doubt, fear, and anger. But at least I wouldn’t have been embarrassed that somebody else saw my emotions.  

What’s amazing is the process I just described above is the very process and I am trying to get others to consider changing. This strong desire to just shut down.  Armor up.  Judge ourselves for feeling.  Hide uncomfortable emotions and hope they won’t be seen out of the fear of being judged by others.  This hiding our emotions is called ‘glazing’, a term I’ve used which means to put on a socially acceptable energetic mask and keep safe by not letting others see how we truly feel.  

Within these two choices (not sharing, or being “all in”) I’m starting to see a clear “down the road” picture of what my future holds when I follow either path: 

Not sharing and staying ‘out of the ring’ allows me to preserve my ego. My dignity.  I remain in ‘control’ of how others see me.  The indisputable truth is that I don’t have to feel my uncomfortable emotions. The negative of staying out of the ring is that I don’t get to feel any of my emotions.  My world grows smaller when I allow my fear of fear, anxiousness of having anxiety, and shame of others knowing my true emotions keep me from connecting authentically and openly with people in my life that could be fulfilling.

Being ‘all in’ emotionally and ‘getting in the ring’ has its drawbacks as well.  You have the joy (yes, that’s sarcasm) of having all of your emotions on the table in front of others. You get to feel all of your uncomfortability with an audience, hopefully an audience that has earned your trust, but sometimes you have to take the chance and trust without knowing how it’s going to go. That is truly the price of entering the ring.  The great thing about this is that your world opens up.  You can emotionally breathe.  When you don’t fear other people seeing your emotions, or fear feeling your emotions yourself, your world expands. You begin to meet people where they are because you’re not afraid of how you’re going to feel.  You try different experiences because you’re familiar with your uncomfortable emotions.  When you don’t walk–or run–from your emotions, when you get in the ring, that’s where the living happens.

It helps a great deal to remember the price of being vulnerable is discomfort.  What you buy with vulnerability is things you can’t get when you are emotionally closed off because of fear of self-exposure.  The first thing that comes to mind is support.  Whether my friend judged me or not, well, I’ll never know (so let it go).  But, because I shared what I was feeling, I was definitely able to get help in seeing something very important to me.  

The risk of being emotionally exposed was uncomfortable to say the least.  But I was given great support because I was willing to step into the ring, to be ‘all in’ and reveal what was actually going on for me.  It’s this kind of courage and resolve to allow for my uncomfortable emotions and feel exposed that enabled me to receive help to release the harmful thinking and break the emotional cycle for myself.

I can’t say that I am feeling exceptionally great at the moment. It’s only been like fifteen minutes since I’ve left the ring in which I actually expressed my fear, anger, and frustration. I know that I am very grateful and that I feel much better for sharing with my friend how I was feeling.  I also know that I am left with a strong feeling of embarrassment and uncomfortability for having exposed myself like that.  The good thing is that I’ve done it before, quite a bit actually.  It’s becoming more and more familiar.  I fully recognize I want authentic connections with people in my life.  If getting in the ring is the price of admission, it is one that I am willing to pay because it means I am able to truly live.

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