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How to handle emotions without resorting to the extremes of ‘suppressing’ or ‘wallowing’

The most counter-productive way to relate to your emotions is to treat them as nuisances to be pushed down and ignored.

This attitude ensures that they will fester inside you and come out later as uncontrollable outbursts or as physical pains, disease, and chronic ailments (mysterious fatigue, digestive issues, etc).

It can also cause women to find you ‘unavailable’ for deep connection, boring, and untrustworthy (because you may easily get defensive or sharp).

This is why relating to your emotions with disdain is actually dangerous to your health - both your physical health and the health of your relationships.

And, other people can feel what you’re suppressing. Have you ever felt uneasy in the presence of someone whose words seemed cheerful, but whose body radiated another kind of energy?

A different way to show up - one that transmits power and wisdom - is to be congruent between your body and mind.

This means that you have integrated and accepted what you are feeling, and the way you talk reflects the energy that people subconsciously feel from your body and overall presence.

The problem is that we have not been taught to value integration or how to do it.

In fact, quite the opposite - there’s a common belief that you should suppress your emotions and that anything else equates to ‘wallowing’ in them.

These options are two extremes. Going to the extremes is a persistent default in modern life that I point out again and again in my work.

You may also shy away from facing emotions because of internalized beliefs that emotions are ‘weak’, ‘irrational’, ‘distractions’ and associated with ‘women’.

And let’s be honest: one of the worst insults for a man is to be told he’s ‘like a woman.’

So, you can forgive yourself for shying away from developing emotional fluency.

You cannot deny that men and women alike fall unabashedly in love - and that men have created beautifully emotionally expressive poetry, music, and writing throughout history.

Emotions belong to all of us.

So, what does it look like to handle our emotions without resorting to the extremes of suppression or wallowing?

Emotional fluency in my work has three parts:

  1. identifying what we are feeling

  2. forming a respectful relationship with it

  3. discerning how we want to process the energy

In this work, you make yourself ‘right’ for what you are feeling. It’s a complete re-orientation to how we relate to emotions and can take a lot of courage.

When you make yourself ‘right’ for what you are feeling, then you realize there is a good reason for what is happening in your body. And from this place of respect for the emotion, you can actually hear the message it has for you.

Acknowledging and listening to your emotions is what constitutes a relationship of respect for them, rather than the shame-based suppression you may have been used to.

Finally, you feel the emotions as the pure energy of it underneath the label and choose to employ emotional first aid techniques - which range from breathing to going for a walk to calling a friend - to allow it to process through your body and be free from how it might have been compelling you to act out.

And with that freedom comes real power - power not dependent on clamping down on anything, but the easy confidence and power that comes with being free from inner conflict and living in congruence.

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