This post is excerpted from Simple Acts of Moving Forward.
Do you ever feel like this? Why do people treat me as if they’re afraid I’ll bite their head off? Why do I feel so out of control? I’ve not actually done anything wrong or inappropriate. But I’m becoming a person who makes others uncomfortable.
The true emotions of a typical day wear very odd disguises. You might be angry, but you express frustration or hurt feelings. You might be sad, but it comes out in complaint form. Grief becomes distraction; anxiety turns into hyperactivity.
Well, most of the people in your world today will pick up on the actual emotion. They will hear you say you’re not angry, just tired, but they will feel the impact of your anger. Emotions are like that—they issue from the intuitive self and are read quite clearly by the intuition of others.
If someone accuses you of being mad or depressed or tired, don’t answer right away. Try to suspend your defensive reply and follow up by asking, “What makes you think that?” Then listen to the answer. Let others reflect to you what your body, tone of voice, and eyes are telling the world. Thank people for their observations. Then go somewhere and shut the door.
Dare to consider that you really are what people are seeing. Look in the mirror at your face, your posture. What’s looking back at you? How do you really feel?
Once you’ve identified the feeling, you can dig around for the reason. When you’ve figured out the reason, your options will open up. You will decide to have an overdue conversation with someone or to go to bed earlier tonight. Because you faced your emotional life with honesty, the rest of your life can get back on track.
A Little Prayer for the Next Step
Why am I so afraid of my own feelings? What do I think will happen if I see them for what they are? Please deliver me from the idea that feelings make me weak or stupid. Help me use emotions as they come—to build wisdom.