In my last blog post I discussed the idea of being able to meet your emotions mindfully. This meant being able to tolerate and accept your emotions. In my opinion, this is a hard task to accomplish immediately. Realistically, it takes regular practice in order to master your emotions. This is because your emotions do not work the same way as the rational mind does.
An emotion is a personal reaction or stance towards an action, object, person or value. Some emotions we can trace very easily to what caused them. For example, feeling happy or excited from watching your favourite TV show. However other emotions or feelings are harder to trace or describe. For example, the uneasy feeling you have when you wake up and are caught between wanting to get up and wanting to stay in bed.
It is even possible to have emotions triggered by other emotions. For example, shame from feeling sad. If this feeling of shame were to develop it may cause you to start experiencing symptoms of depression. The reason I mention shame is because it is a result of stigma, which is a hurdle many people face when opening up about their emotions.
Stigma is defined as a “mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person”. It is a major factor that explains why we develop complex relationships with our emotions. As a result, we may repress or deny ourself the right to feel. Being aware of how we limit ourselves from being able to express our emotions can help us to get closer to expressing our deepest truth. This can also liberate us and allow ourselves to become more authentic human beings.
It is imperative we understand:
- The nature of how our own emotions manifest.
- What triggers our emotions.
- What holds ourselves back from expressing our emotions.
- How to distinguish and define the trace of these emotions.
All of this falls under the category of intrapersonal intelligence. Which is synonymous of self awareness and being able to reflect on yourself and how you feel. Knowing yourself for who you are when you are vulnerable is important, as you start to put less pressure on yourself to be “perfect”.
When you start to build a more tender relationship with yourself, you will start to build on your relationship with others. Being able to understand and relate to others is a key element of interpersonal intelligence. This is the other side of the coin as far as emotional intelligence is concerned.
Interpersonal intelligence may be just as important in coping with emotional distress, because it involves being able to communicate effectively what you feel to your friends. It can help you to not get so absorbed in your own world and start to open yourself up to new possibilities.
Depending on your own individual circumstances you may find this very difficult or very easy. It is all based on your experience. The more you participate and say yes to opportunities the more likely you will start to become more comfortable with who you are and comfortable with socialising.
There is no norm; I am not trying to teach you a way to behave at all. Be uniquely you always. The point is, we all eventually need each other at some point. No man is an island, as they say. You may see quotes along the lines of “everything you need is within you” but this advice isn’t always realistic; sure, it may empower you, but eventually we all need somebody to call a friend or family because we are human. If we were designed to be 100% independent we wouldn’t need to socialise and we would be androids.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you do embark on the journey of socialising more:
- Go into it for the right reasons! Do it because you are genuinely interested and want to and not because you feel you should.
- Don’t make too many compromises; you don’t owe anyone anything.
- Don’t be too guarded; let go of keeping people at distance all the time. Stick to present facts; don’t limit yourself to what your past experiences tell you about how you think the world is. The world is always changing.
I know reading the bullet points above may seem confusing at first, but essentially the point is to find the right balance. This all takes practice, and be prepared to make mistakes. I still struggle from time to time, but eventually it will all sink in.
If you consider yourself to be socially anxious then concentrate on saying yes to opportunities more, to prove yourself wrong about how a situation may turn out. It’s always important to remember that we all share the same insecurities and there is no such thing as being normal. Even if you embarrass yourself, people are so wrapped up in their own lives they will eventually forget what happened.
I would say mindfulness can offer assistance in aspects of anxiety. For more information on the link between mindfulness and emotions please see my previous blog. Otherwise, I will cover anxiety on its own in a future blog.
I hope you all continue to express yourself honestly with a sense of freedom. I acknowledge you all for how brave you are in facing your fears and opening up about your struggles.
Stay true to who you are. Keep growing stronger. Peace.