Ignoring emotions does not make them go away

“I haven’t told anyone that I’m doing life coaching,” Michael confessed. “They’ve noticed changes in me, but I don’t think it’s anybody’s business but mine.”

“Would it be bad to let someone know you are working to improve your life?” I asked.

“Most people think I have my act together,” he said. “I don’t want to be seen as weak … not that life coaching makes you weak,” he quickly added.

“Tell me about feeling weak,” I said. “What’s bad about being weak?”

“My father always said that weakness wouldn’t be tolerated,” Michael said. “When I was growing up, I acted courageously whether I felt that way or not.”

“How do you feel when someone else is weak?” I said.

“It varies,” Michael said. “Sometimes I have compassion, but more often I think, ‘Get over it!’ “

“When was the last time you felt and expressed being weak?” I asked.

Michael thought for a long time.

“When I was 12. We were at the lake and the kids were jumping off the top of the houseboat,” he began. “When it was my turn, I froze. I couldn’t do it. My friends teased me, and my father had a look of disgust on his face. I remember him talking to me about the importance of not being weak. Since then, whenever I feel weak, I ignore it.”

“What other emotions might you be ignoring?” I asked.

“I ignore negative emotions like embarrassment, incompetence and feeling sad. Why would anyone want to show those kinds of weaknesses?”

“Why would they?” I asked back.

“I’ve always thought those were weak emotions,” Michael said, “but truthfully, as I get older, it’s harder to ignore them. Maybe I am getting weak, but it’s tougher to shut off my negative emotions. It’s like I’ve had them in a locked box and I just found the key. Do I open it?”

“That’s a great metaphor,” I said. “What if you opened it? You always have the option of closing the box again … but maybe you won’t. What do you think?”

“I’m curious,” Michael said. “Even if it is a Pandora’s Box, I suspect that when I shut off negative emotions, I am unable to fully enjoy the positive ones. It’s like not really knowing what hot is until you’ve experienced cold.”

“Suspecting this, how will you move forward?” I asked.

“Ignoring my emotions is a habit,” Michael said, “and I want to break the pattern. The first thing I’ll do is identify when it’s happening, which means slowing down and tuning in.”

He thought for a moment. “My watch beeps on the hour. What if when it beeps, I tune in to my emotions? I don’t have to do anything but simply notice how I’m feeling. My goal is to become more aware of my emotions and then see how I react.”

“Sounds great!” I said. “How are you feeling now?”

“Excited and curious to find out what’s inside the box,” he said.

Coaching Challenge: If you’d like to gain emotional insight, slow down and tune in. Try checking in a couple of times a day or every hour. Note the emotion and what effect it has on you and your body. Use your imagination to see what it would look like if you fully expressed this emotion. How do you handle the emotion? What is the difference and how does this behavior serve you?

Sheri Fisher is an intuitive life coach living in Grand Junction. The situations and characters in her column are fictional to maintain client confidentiality.

For information and to access her blog, go to http://www.coachwithsheri.com.


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