Are you led by love or fear?
We AVOID what we FEAR, but for mental health & wellbeing you need integration, connection & coherence…. which is hard to get while you avoid.
Avoidance is how Americans are socialized. In fact, our culture is emotionally phobic which is an allergic reaction to feelings. So, if you “avoid” know it’s not your fault; it’s your socialization! However, consider that you NOW have the opportunity to learn & do better.
2 friends come to mind when I think about this topic. Both are good people who try to do the right thing with others but recently felt stuck. When I asked them to check in with their feelings (inside) they both struggled.
Sometimes before we can change/influence what is happening OUTSIDE of us we need to first CONNECT INSIDE of us.
Yet, this is not how we are taught! The most common phrases I hear from people are: “HOW DO I FIX IT” & I DON’T KNOW. I wonder how often you experience that? !?
HOW DO I FIX IT it is a “head” response & is a common reaction for people who are under-connected to their heart or maybe heart connected, but driven by fear of losing control. Coming at our internal world or external situations/relationships carries an agenda & often backfires.
I DON’T KNOW is often a stuck/frozen fear state. I DON’T KNOW is a block to forward movement that people want to exit quickly because it doesn’t feel great; they feel helpless & powerless. In this “gear” you can’t connect with problem solving or feel confident that you have the support & resources to make a change.
Either way, if “fixing it” fails or you can’t exit the freeze response of “I don’t know” avoidance is likely. The problem gets ignored/avoided/stuffed.
Once stuffed, those feelings don’t go away, they wait for an opportunity to overwhelm. This is what creates mental & physical health issues & relationship ruptures. Whatever energy you deny/avoid/stuff has to come out somehow.
Analogy: Remember what it was when you were a kid holding a ball underwater….at some point the ball popped up because you couldn’t keep the ball held down any longer or you lost your balance. This is what happens when we deny/avoid/stuff.
Let’s talk about the how/why/what of avoidance and then the benefits of doing the opposite with ACE….:
HOW do we avoid?
- We do it daily. It can be on a continuum from a healthy/necessary “break” to unhealthy as in the case of total dissociation/multiple personality disorder.
- Consciously or unconsciously doing activity (work, phones, socializing…).
- Shutting down our felt sense/emotional experience.
- Ignoring our bodies’ messages.
WHY do we avoid?
- It’s human to avoid stuff that makes us uncomfortable, like change or feeling pain.
- We have learned it’s safer for us to keep our vulnerability under “lock & key” or “exiled” from our awareness or risk rejection, shame, isolation.
- Fear of overwhelming body sensations, emotions, & negative self-talk
- Lack of support (safety, coregulation)
- Lack of information/resources/skills about how to manage your internal world (Emotional Intelligence)
WHAT happens when we avoid?
- The problem/issue/feelings/thoughts grow bigger & although “stuffed” or “tucked away” will erupt at the first opportunity whether… it is convenient or helpful or not! When “triggered” the energy will feel big, reactive, & out of control or out of proportion to the situation
- You will lose touch with yourself (needs, injuries/wounds, dreams, fears).
- Managing by stuffing, distracting or denying takes more energy, robbing you of your vitality AND
- This decreases clarity & prevents healing/problem solving that naturally happens when issues are allowed.
- It creates disconnect & conflict in important relationships as others are left to deal with the impact of avoidance; Intimacy is not possible. Ruptures are not repaired.
- So now you have at least 2+ problems (what you stuffed, the eruption, & consequences) AND
- You are allowing your life to be led by FEAR.
HELLO LOVE & COMPASSION
ACE as an antidote
- Acknowledge/accept/allow what is here now in your mind, body, heart/spirit. Make space for it. Notice & name without judgment. If this is hard, it’s an opportunity to learn about RADICAL ACCEPTANCE.
- Connect & befriend “IT”. Get to know your experience better. Externalize “IT” (journaling, music, art, movies, movement). IT is there to alert you to a need, value, fear, wound or dream. Hear the concern for you & about you. If this is hard, it’s an opportunity for you to learn about RADICAL COMPASSION.
- Embody by being present/mindful of your inner experience & outer experience/connections. Send your needs, wounds, & fears LOVE, COMPASSION, CURIOSITY. This can only be done, truly, when you drop the agenda to FIX IT! As that is more allowed, there will be increased space, clarity, insight & energy.
The paradox of allowing & NOT avoiding is hard to get but once you get it; the game is changed.
Instead of being dragged about by fear & avoidance you develop the ability to love wholeheartedly.
Body Scan Exercise
Read this through once & then practice or if you prefer to listen, you can on Season 1, Episode 3 of the Reset with Renee podcast (https://open.spotify.com/show/5dVrMeknHQyk8MTE33c56M).
If you are open this is an opportunity to listen inside.
- I invite you to get comfortable how you like…notice your body (feet grounded to the floor, your seat on the chair or the ground as you lay down).
- Allow your breath to move naturally. Take a few inhalations & exhalations. Imagine breathing out anything negative you want to release & as you inhale the breath invite in any qualities you would like to have more of.
- Now, imagine your body is being scanned from head to toe (or vice versa whatever works best for you). See what you notice…. you might notice body sensations, thoughts, feelings…. or maybe nothing. There is NO right or wrong way to do this. You are not trying to make anything happen or not happen, but just notice.
- If there are sensations or feelings, where are they found in your body?
- Is there movement, a sensation, a color, a temperature?
- Is it tight or relaxed?
- If you notice thoughts, are they moving fast/slow? Kind or not kind?
- Are there feelings that want your attention? Are they quiet/hiding or intense/demanding?
- Whatever you notice, just observe it with curiosity & without judgment.
- If you feel compassion or curiosity, send that energy to the part of you, feeling/sensation/thought. Send some loving & kind energy, just letting IT know YOU know IT is there. If you like, pause & spend more time listening & being with what is inside or come back to it later when you have more time, energy, or support. Thank IT for showing up for you. And YAY YOU for taking time to try something new!
If the environment you grew up in attacked your spirit, the first arrow to your heart was the message that that you weren’t OK, as is. The second arrow happened then (happens now) when YOU turn away from or against yourself or those who you care about. The good news is: We can all do better when we know better.
To live, love & lead in a wholehearted way asks you to decrease the tendency to avoid your inner landscape, & instead, allow your full humanness. What happens within, happens out.
Let’s create environments where Emotional Intelligence is not only allowed but encouraged.
RESET daily by asking yourself: How can I human with love today?
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