I was thinking about how strange it is that I’m not afraid to reveal my innermost feelings to total strangers I have never met, but it’s so hard to share those same feelings with the people who are closest to me. There are things I’ve written here on my blogs that I couldn’t even tell my therapist yet.
I think my challenges in really feeling my emotions are due to blockages of energy within my body. I discovered this simply by focusing on how my body felt in my therapy sessions or when I feel an emotion bubbling to consciousness. There’s a definite tightness in three parts of my body, which actually correspond to three of the chakras. If the emotion is strong, there can be a dull pain, as if the pain of the emotion is trying to get out and can’t. I can never fully let go, because of my fear that if I do, I might completely lose control. I’m learning that ironically, I have less control by holding negative emotions inside because when I do that, they continue to act as a slow-acting poison long after their job is done, instead of passing out of me like the release they’re supposed to be and freeing my soul to be able to experience more positivity in my life and more able to access my creative spark.
I think I’ve grown to trust my therapist enough that I’ve begun to let go just a little.
There are three places where my emotions are blocked:
The middle of my abdomen. This corresponds to the third, or solar plexus, chakra, which represents competence and power. I’ve always felt so powerless and incompetent.
My chest. This corresponds to the fifth, or heart chakra. This is where the higher emotions such as agape love, empathy, all kinds of (nonsexual) connectedness, and gratitude reside. It’s always been so hard for me to really connect with others, due to fear and lack of trust.
The middle of my throat. This corresponds to the 6th, or throat, chakra, which represents the ability to communicate with others. I’ve always been a shy person afraid to speak up, even if it’s for my own rights as a human being. Blogging has helped, but it’s not nearly enough.
I think by focusing in on bodily sensations and becoming mindful of your feelings, you can zero in on which ones you need to work on and focus on relaxing and breathing deeply into the blocked areas to be able to feel it fully enough so you can purge it.
Sometimes I have funny thoughts when I’m just lying on my bed half asleep. It’s at those times my subconscious mind sometimes bubbles into consciousness (which makes the half asleep state similar to meditation). Anyway, the thought I had was simple and profound. I was just lying there with random thoughts drifting through my head, and thinking about how “small” my life is, how little I have both materially and emotionally. But it wasn’t self pity, it was just an observation of reality. Suddenly another thought bubbled into awareness: you only get what you put out.
“You only get what you put out.” Suddenly I was wide awake and almost shocked by the simplicity of this message. I thought about how little I put into anything–I have very little interest in most things, don’t join anything, don’t take any action, don’t reach out to people, don’t look for new opportunities (or even recognize them when they are staring me in the face), always make excuses, always allow things to just “happen.” And then I wonder why I feel like life controls me, rather than the other way around. I realized that my life isn’t *horrible* really (many people have it much worse), it’s just extremely unsatisfying and seems empty and devoid of any color or life. That’s because I approach it with very little enthusiasm and don’t want to make the effort to take on more or reach out to other people.
And why is this? It’s because of fear. I’m afraid of..everything. To let go of fear, somehow..and replace that fear with love…that’s the remedy for all my problems.
To become comfortable with myself and allow vulnerability into the equation requires letting go of fear. Recognizing and embracing vulnerability is the most courageous thing any of us trapped by fear and its outer trappings (narcissism, irrational anger, avoidance, all the personality disorders, etc.) will ever have to do. But it’s the only way.
It sounds easy…but it’s not. Letting go of fear is the hardest thing I’ll ever have to do. I’m used to it. I’ve had it all my life. I don’t know how to live without it. It’s a dysfunctional relationship, the one I have with fear, and I’m codependent to it.
Here’s a wonderful article from The Good Men Project about a mother who is encouraging her young son to express his emotions instead of stuffing them. If only more parents encouraged this sort of thing, we’d live in a world with more empathy and less narcissism.
Why I Am Teaching My Son That Tears Take Courage
By Colette Sartor, for The Good Men Project
My son didn’t cry on his first day of preschool; he cried on his thirtieth. The school was a tiny, progressive place that took a surprisingly stern approach to drop offs: Say goodbye and leave. No looking back or lingering. This was fine by me. I hate to cry in public, and I knew I might, which would scare my three year old and make him cry.
So, that first day, I watched him cautiously pile blocks for a few minutes, then I told him I’d pick him up later, kissed him, and left for work. He barely glanced up. He was absorbed in the newness of everything: new kids, new toys, new sights and sounds and smells.
Every day that month, I repeated the routine. I’d briefly watch him play, kiss his cheek, and leave. Every day, I breathed easier. “He loves his new school,” I told people. How well adjusted he is! How happy! Yay him! Yay me! I thought. Then, on the thirtieth day, he raced to me with outstretched arms. “Mommy, stay!” he sobbed. I gathered him up, buried my face in the talc of his hair. “I’ll be back, honey, don’t worry,” I whispered before his teacher gestured to hand him over. He cried and reached for me, struggling to extricate himself from the teacher’s grasp. “Just go,” she mouthed over his head. I nodded and walked out, my own tears streaming as he sobbed behind me.
When I was growing up, our family motto was, “If you want to play with the big dogs, don’t piss like a puppy.” Which meant no crying.
My son cries easily. He gets it from me. I cry over life insurance commercials, sappy movies, real and imagined slights. I usually hide my tears, even from him. When I was growing up, our family motto was, “If you want to play with the big dogs, don’t piss like a puppy.” Girls were puppies by default. They showed the world when they hurt. They cried. To play with the big dogs, girls had to be tough. Which meant no crying. So I learned not to cry. At least, not in public. Still, I try not to discourage my son from crying. I love his sensitivity. I love that he cries when a friend is hurting, that he cries when he feels he’s being treated unjustly, that he cries at all.
A friend sent me this video. Have the tissues ready. 😥
There’s no place for a sensitive soul
In a space where your ego freely roams
And you’re a little bit narcissistic
And I’m a little too understanding, sadly
So you held me like your rose
Only to watch me whither slowly
But there’s no hope for the weaker minds
This, I know
You can’t take me down
For my fragile heart
I’ll start over now
With my fragile heart
It’s a sad fact that many HSPs (highly sensitive persons) develop personality disorders and elaborate defense mechanisms like NPD or BPD just to cope with the world because they feel like they have no normal defenses against being hurt or abused. The double whammy is that so many HSPs have disordered parents who scapegoated or abused them, just because they can see the truth about their parents’ malignancy through their mask of sanity. Of course, this makes it even more likely for an HSP to develop a disorder where they successfully or unsucessfully attempt to hide their high sensitivity (true self). High sensitivity/vulnerability is a wonderful quality and is needed in this unfeeling world, but is not well understood or accepted in a narcissistic, materialistic society. HSPs who have developed NPD or BPD or some other personality disorder are not happy people.
Having the gift of high sensitivity is especially hard on children, who tend to be easily bullied at school, even if their parents are accepting and loving, because these qualities are seen as “weak” or uncool by other kids and sometimes teachers too. Also, since children are naturally narcissistic, HSP qualities in a child tend to manifest as being easily offended or hurt. A child hasn’t yet learned to use their gift of sensitivity for good purposes or to help others. So an HSP child can easily develop a personality disorder, even if it’s less severe than a child who has been abused from early childhood.
But there are rare people who are highly sensitive who seem to come through childhood and adolescence unscathed. I’d like to talk about one such person. It was a young woman I knew at one of my old jobs. Her name was Meghann. I don’t think I’ve ever met a person so attuned to life, so in touch with her emotions, so accepting of others, and so joyful.
Meghann was physically beautiful but never seemed that conscious of her appearance. She dressed casually and wore very little make-up, but she didn’t need it. While not classically beautiful or what most would call sexy, Meghann’s beauty came from within. Enhancing her natural beauty with cosmetics or baubles would be like gilding the lily (although I did see her dressed up on occasion and thought she was equally stunning).
I trained Meghann when she was a new employee at a call center I used to work for. I liked her immediately; so did everyone else. She learned quickly and was quick to laugh but never AT anyone. She just laughed because she found humor in just about anything it was possible to find humor in, and that included herself.
Meghann had a way of attracting people to her. Both men and women loved being in her presence, because it was so loving and positive. Not obnoxious-positive, in the sense of fake-perky “positivity nazis” that pervade our society, but she had a subdued optimism and there was a kind of glow that seemed to emanate from her whenever she walked into a room.
Meghann was one of those rare nice people who rises quickly through the corporate ranks. I’ve found in most places I’ve worked, the most narcissistic and cold people seem to get ahead, but Meghann was so smart, likeable and good at her job that she was promoted to a supervisory position within 6 months of my training her.
As a covert narcissist, I was envious at first. What was this? I had trained her! As it always seems to be for me, I was still stuck in my low level job; no one would promote me there, and this–girl–who was young enough to be my daughter had moved way ahead of me and in such a short time. In fact, she was to be my new supervisor!
But it was strange too–I really didn’t mind. Somehow I was able to forget about my envy because she was just such a genuinely sweet person and I loved her too. You just couldn’t stay angry or envious of someone like that for long. And, I had to admit, she had done everything to deserve her promotion. I realized I was actually happy to be working under her and I told her so. I was rewarded with a dose of supply because she told me that if it wasn’t for me, she wouldn’t have been where she was,because I had been such a great and patient trainer.
Meghann laughed a lot but it was always a musical, natural laugh, never forced or fake, and she never laughed at people in pain or at tragedies. She laughed at herself as well as at all the absurdities the world has to offer if you just look for them. When Meghann laughed, people gathered around her to feel her joyful presence and be touched by it.
But Meghann was also very emotional. She was often in tears, not because she was sad or depressed, but because she felt everything so deeply. It wasn’t unusual for her eyes to become damp when she listened to you talk about some sad thing that happened to you, or even tear up when she was happy. I remember when she had her 26th birthday, and the department had all gone out on gifts and a cake (and we really meant it), she was smiling radiantly and wiping away tears at the same time. Even I felt myself responding and wanted to run up and hug her (I didn’t). She just had that effect on people. I don’t know one person who disliked her. She could tame even the nastiest, most envious people because of her joyful and accepting presence.
Meghann had many artistic talents where she freely expressed who she was. She could sing, paint, and take beautiful pictures. She made a lot of her own clothing which was original and beautiful. She was a person who knew exactly who she was and wasn’t ashamed to show it. You could tell she had enormous self confidence, but it never came off as arrogance, entitlement or grandiosity. In fact, most of the time Meghann was very humble. Not self-flagellating or fake-humble–she just never acted like she was somehow better than you or more deserving. She even blushed adorably whenever she was the center of attention (which was a lot) because she couldn’t hide her true feelings and didn’t try to either.
Meghann wasn’t happy every day. As a sensitive person, she felt everything, and sometimes the things she felt made her cry. When she was sad, everyone knew because she was quieter than usual and stayed in her office. But she was still approachable and never took out her depressed moods on other employees. You knew she’d been crying because her eyes and nose were pink, but she was never over the top about it and never sank into self pity or whining. She just felt her emotions and moved on.
I was in awe of Meghann. I couldn’t stay envious of her, although I had every reason to be (especially because she had been raised in a happy, normal family by loving parents–and I tend to be envious of people who had that). When she finally quit to move to another state, I almost cried along with everyone else. I couldn’t hate Meghann because in her, I saw the kind of person I think I could have been had my high sensitivity not been used against me as a young child and forced me to turn against it and try to be someone I never was.
My memory of Meghann still inspires me, because I want to be like that. I think I’m already halfway there.
I think this article applies to anyone trying to heal from any personality disorder, PTSD, or the fallout of narcissistic abuse, so I’m posting it here too.
I shouldn’t freak out so much whenever I post something I’m embarrassed by or ashamed of or that is very personal.
I always forget how good running naked in public can feel.
The outcome is never bad, and always leads to even more self awareness.
How can that be a bad thing?
I’m not alone in freaking out over stuff like this. It seems to be universal, hardwired into the human brain.
Why is there so much shame in making yourself vulnerable, telling your secrets? Does it mean you’re weak? Is it something we should be ashamed of?
I don’t think so. I think being vulnerable and candid means we have the courage to honest even when it hurts, and that makes you stronger than 100 boxes of Wheaties.
I posted an article earlier I was certain would run off most of my readers, cause my friends to leave me, and basically kill this blog.
But that hasn’t happened.
Everyone’s been so supportive.
And I want to tell everyone thank you. I’m glad I did this now.
Watch a video, find out more, and sign up here:
The online course is $29.00
Show Up and Let Yourself be Seen
Is vulnerability the same as weakness? “In our culture,” teaches Dr. Brené Brown, “we associate vulnerability with emotions we want to avoid such as fear, shame, and uncertainty. Yet we too often lose sight of the fact that vulnerability is also the birthplace of joy, belonging, creativity, authenticity, and love.” The Power of Vulnerability with Brené Brown offers an invitation and a promise—that when we dare to drop the armor that protects us from feeling vulnerable, we open ourselves to the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives. In this video learning course, Dr. Brown dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and reveals that it is, in truth, our most accurate measure of courage.
“The Power of Vulnerability with Brené Brown is a very personal project for me,” Brené explains. “This is the first place that all of my work comes together. This online course draws from all three of my books—it’s the culmination of everything I’ve learned over the past twelve years. I’m very excited to weave it all into a truly comprehensive form that shows what these findings and insights can mean in our lives.”
Over the past twelve years, Dr. Brené Brown has interviewed hundreds of people as part of an ongoing study of vulnerability. “The research shows that we try to ward disappointment with a shield of cynicism, disarm shame by numbing ourselves against joy, and circumvent grief by shutting off our willingness to love,” explains Dr. Brown. When we become aware of these patterns, she teaches, we begin to become conscious of how much we sacrifice in the name of self-defense—and how much richer our lives become when we open ourselves to vulnerability.
“In my research,” Dr. Brown says, “the word I use to describe people who can live from a place of vulnerability is wholehearted.” Being wholehearted is a practice—one that we can choose to cultivate through empathy, gratitude, and awareness of our vulnerability triggers. Join this engaging teacher as she offers profound insights on leaning into the full spectrum of emotions—so we can show up, let ourselves be seen, and truly be all in.
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No prerequisite knowledge needed.
Just the Udemy platform; no additional materials needed.
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In this course, you will participate in six hours of stories, warm humor, and transformative insights, and two live video lectures with Dr. Brené Brown for living a life of courage, authenticity, and compassion.
By the end of the course, you will be able to 1) Explain how to cultivate shame resilience—the key to developing a sense of worth and belonging, 2) Discuss vulnerability as the origin point for innovation, adaptability, accountability, and visionary leadership, 3) Discuss emotional armory—how to avoid feeling vulnerable; myths of vulnerability—common misconceptions about weakness, trust, and self-sufficiency; and vulnerability triggers—recognizing what makes us shut down, and how we can change, 4) Summarize the 10 guideposts of wholehearted living—essential skills for becoming fully engaged in life.
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Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW is a research professor at the University of Houston’s Graduate College of Social Work who has spent the past 10 years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. She is a nationally renowned speaker and has won numerous teaching awards, including the college’s Outstanding Faculty Award. Her groundbreaking work has been featured on PBS, NPR, and CNN. Her 2010 TEDxHouston talk on the power of vulnerability is one of most watched talks on TED.com. Her most recent TED talk, “Listening to Shame,” was released in March 2012.
There’s a lot of information out there about how crying is good for you, but this article from The Daily Mail (UK) is interesting because it describes how crying has evolved over time. For example, prior to the two world wars, crying was done openly and often, even by men. Now it’s limited to the football stands or funeral parlor for men, and even women retreat to the “powder room” if they need to cry, especially in work/professional settings.
This is a really good article.
ETA: Right after I posted that, I found this other article from the website, The Art of Manliness, which goes into even more detail about male tears. I never knew any of this!
Oh, and…I guess I lied. It’s my second post tonight. That’s all. Goodnight.