Tag: engage with emotions

Are you disappearing? I think I want to.

Are you disappearing? I think I want to.

What on earth is this man saying??? Have you ever read something that really made you stop and think? That made you question ‘deeper’ issues? That stayed in your thoughts, lingering for several days? Where the meaning evaded you? That’s exactly what happened to me when I came across this quote on Impromptu Promptlings (the original source can be found here)…

The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability,

how we become larger and more courageous and more compassionate

through our intimacy with disappearance. 

David Whyte

The first thing that struck me was the fact that it’s taken for granted that we are all vulnerable. And sure, that rings true when you think about it. We all have our insecurities, our vulnerabilities, and they affect us in different ways. But, as this quote says, we have a choice in how we deal with these feelings. Personally, I feel that in all our interactions – with ourselves and with others – we would do well to remember that everyone is vulnerable in some way. We need to tread carefully, with empathy and sensitivity and loving-kindness, with others and with ourselves. And, I feel, we also have a duty towards ourselves and those around us to learn how to process these unsettling emotions so that they do not damage or even wreck our relationships.

The second thing  that stood out to me – and the word that really made me pause and think – was the notion of ‘disappearance’. Just what exactly does this guy mean? To be honest, I was stumped at first. Maybe I still am! For what it’s worth, this is what I think is going on…

The act of inhabiting your vulnerability implies accepting it without judgement, without fighting against it. In other words: mindfulness. And that is definitely a practise that encourages compassion. I also feel more confident when I am mindful – perhaps this is what the author is referring to when he speaks of courage. As for growing ‘larger’, this definitely seems to tie in with the sense of an extended consciousness and connecting to the energy that surrounds us.

And that, dear readers, is where we disappear. Through the practice of mindfulness, we lose the egocentric and often selfish mindset that seems to pervade our modern individualistic society. The notion of ‘self’ as a separate entity wanes in light of an expanded consciousness. And again, we have a choice regarding how (and if) we embrace this.

At first, it struck me as ironic that focusing less on the self leads to an empowered sense of identity, courage, compassion, and confidence. But then again, you have to have experienced and practised mindfulness in order to truly understand the value of surrendering what you regard as your ‘self’ in order to reach a more actualized state of being.

I choose to embrace this disappearance. Do you?

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Apparently Big Boys Do Cry

Yes, you read that correctly. In fact, “experiencing and expressing emotions is viewed by more and more people as a sign of strength”. So much for the cowboys-don’t-cry parenting technique.

Many people are brought up on the notion that expressing – or even experiencing – emotions is a sign of weakness. And this view is widely adopted in society. Being stoic and holding back your tears has largely been held to be a sign of strength, maturity and socially acceptable behaviour. That idea is now being challenged and thrown on its head.

So does that mean that we should all cry at any available opportunity? (I can almost hear you hiss ‘weakness’ in response to the very idea.) But no it does not. It simply means that we need to engage with our emotions, to understand them and act on them accordingly. Experiencing a range of emotions is part of the human experience. After all, no matter what so-called macho men say, we aren’t machines. We are human. We have emotions.

And sure, there is still a time and a place to express those emotions. Encouraging people to express their emotions is still tied to the idea of what is appropriate (a debate for another day). There are still appropriate times, places and means of expressing emotions; the important point is that they are experienced and that they are expressed. It is through the process of truly experiencing and expressing our emotions that we develop true emotional strength.

So yes, cowboys do cry. And they do get frustrated and they do have bad days. And the sooner they embrace this, the stronger they will be.