Coping With Our Emotions: Why Hope And Despair Are Two Sides of The Same Coin

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Have you ever considered hope and despair at the same time? Hm. I’m not sure that I have. I would like to. Thoughts? Well, let’s do a cursory look, and see what we get.

In 4 Reasons Why Language Is Power, I wrote about the power of language. We don’t typically consider the power that lives inside the language we use. It is very important. It shapes experiences, expectations, and trajectories that we set our lives on.

Similarly, in The Social Construction Series Part 1: 7 Reasons Why Understanding Social Constructions Is Important, I wrote about the importance of understanding that all things are socially constructed. All of them. Hence, this post is also a social construction.

Yet, knowing this frees us from the fetter of worrying about attaching ourselves to social constructions, or concepts that we agree with or disagree with.

Alright, let’s define our key terms.

hope

Pronunciation /hōp/ /hoʊp/ 

Translate hope into Spanish

NOUN

  • A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.‘he looked through her belongings in the hope of coming across some information’

despair

Pronunciation /dəˈsper/ /dəˈspɛr/ 

Translate despair into Spanish

NOUN

  • The complete loss or absence of hope.

Well, look at that. Hope is defined as a feeling of expectation and desire about a result. Hm. Interesting. And, despair is defined as the lack of hope, or lack of such a feeling of expectation and desire about a result. Mm, this will be fun.

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Expectations and desires for a certain [result] thing to happen

If hope is, at least as it is defined here, associated with an expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen, when we hope we are essentially concentrating on a result.

And, if that result doesn’t occur? Then we may fall into despair, which is the lack of the expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. The issue?

We cannot have hope without despair. They go together. If you can feel hope, then it is equally possible to feel despair. Not a problem. Important, however, to understand. Why?

Often, people get upset or frustrated when in despair. Yet, as we can see from the language itself, it is only natural. If you subscribe to the feeling of hope, then you will sometimes feel despair. And, vice versa.

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Another way to look at hope and despair

Another way to think about hope and despair is as two sides of the same coin. The world is full of these opposites. Sad and happy, life and death, and so on. For the world to occur as it does, they are needed.

Yet, we can create more power over these concepts by understanding that they always occur together. Meaning that if you are sometimes hopeful, you will sometimes feel despair. It is a must.

When we understand this as true, we can shift our thinking, and mindset to incorporate this apparent paradox with a new understanding.

The new understanding is that these concepts are one. Think about the coin analogy I’ve used in this post. A coin is one thing, yes? Yet, it has two distinct sides; head and tales. Hope and despair are the same. As are all pairs of opposites.

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When do we run into trouble with these concepts?

When we expect hope, for instance, to show up more than despair. Why? Because then when despair shows up, we get down, frustrated, maybe even angry. Not helpful.

By accepting that despair is a part of hope, as sadness is a part of happiness, we increase our awareness about the fact that despair will come; and, guess what?

When it does, it’s okay. It’s normal to feel despair sometimes. Just as it’s normal to feel sad sometimes. If you never feel sad, or despair, then happiness and hope will elude you. True.

It is also important to welcome despair as much as you welcome hope. Why? Because when we resist feeling despair, we avoid it. And, when we avoid things, we actually attract more of those concepts into our life.

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I avoided sadness for such a long time, that I was often sad. Really. Did I look sad all the time? No. It was internal. Yet, believe me, it was there. As was despair.

Yet, when you openly accept that all feelings happen, you create a space to be with them when they come. No judgment. Being in despair or sad doesn’t mean anything.

You are not having “issues” because you sometimes feel despair. Funny how we create language around “negative” emotions and associate them with problems. Not helpful. In fact, detrimental, and untrue.

What can you do?

When you are hopeful, notice. And, be hopeful. Be just as you are in those wonderful moments of hope. Or, happiness, joy, or elation.

And, when you are in despair, notice. And, be in despair. Be just as you are in those wonderful moments of having despair. Or, sadness, melancholy, or misery.

Our emotions come and go. It is important to expect them all to show up. All of them. And, to welcome them all. When we welcome them all, they stop having power over us.

In that moment of acceptance, we create a space to be with our emotions in a completely new way. Free of judgement and created meaning that one emotion is better, or should be more expected than another.

Remember that our emotions just are, and that hope and despair are two sides of the same coin. Just like the heads and tales of a coin, hope and despair are one.

#copingwithemotions, #despair, #development, #developmentandgrowth, #dualism, #emotional-development, #emotional-intelligence, #emotional-self, #emotions, #emotionsareone, #growth, #hopanddespair, #hope, #leadership, #leadershipconcepts, #leadershipdevelopment, #personaldevelopment, #personaltransformation, #selfdevelopment

A Blogger’s Diary 8/8/20: On Resilience and Breakdown to Breakthrough

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This past week, as you can tell from three of my most recent posts, I’ve been thinking a lot about resilience, breakdowns and breakthroughs, and getting unstuck. I’m unsure if I actually connected the three concepts in the posts, so I am going to do so here real quick, promise. 🙂

In the post Developing and Managing Your Resilience During COVID-19, I write about the necessity of getting outside of our comfort zones, to learn new concepts, and to expand the size of our containers, which also increases our resiliency.

In the post, 4 Things to Notice and 4 Ways to Move Yourself From Stuck to Unstuck, I write about becoming more aware of how we feel. Noticing when we don’t feel well, and using this new awareness and the information that comes with it, to move ourselves forward.

In the post, A Journey from Breakdown to Breakthrough, I write about how breakdowns are normal. Though there is a stigma attached to breakdowns, especially in the U.S., they are perfectly normal. More, they are needed. When we welcome our breakdowns, we get to breakthroughs, which then opens us up to more insight.

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How are they connected?

Connection 1

Being more aware of how we feel, when we feel frustrated, anxious, angry, or nervous means that we are not addressing something. As possible, we are not welcoming a breakdown. Maybe we are resisting it, because we think it’s a problem to have a breakdown. If that’s so, it’s okay. I lived that way for a long time.

Connection 2

However, what I’ve come to realize is that welcoming breakdowns when they are there, will move us to breakthrough, and guess what? When we move from breakdown to breakthrough, we are now unstuck. Consider that when we avoid breakdowns, we remain stuck.

Connection 3

And, when we move from stuck to unstuck by addressing something we’ve been avoiding, or are in denial about, we increase our resilience. Yep. It’s so. Resiliency increases as we face difficult situations. Sometimes those situations are external, sometimes internal. Consider also, at some level they are always internal.

COVID-19

Lastly, continuing to live through COVID-19 reminds me that being aware of the following is needed now more than ever.

  • The importance of
    • Being sensitive to how we feel.
    • Welcoming our breakdowns.
    • Using our breakthroughs; and,
      • Moving from stuck to unstuck again and again, which
      • Expands our containers, and increases our overall level of resilience.

We are all going to have to face, whether we want to acknowledge it or not, many, many, more unknowns in the months to come. And, living inside of the unknown is a very uncomfortable place for most people. However, there are actions we can all take to increase our resiliency, which will make the unknown less scary.

There are actions here, and in each of the aforementioned posts, which walk you through strategies you can utilize, if you choose, to increase your awareness and resilience, which you may find beneficial in the long run.

Be well. Be aware. Be resilient.

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#breakdown, #breakdowntobreakthrough, #breakthrough, #covid-19, #covid-19andgrowth, #covid-19andresilience, #covid-19developingresilience, #developingourselves, #developingresilience, #development, #developmentandgrowth, #emotional-intelligence, #emotional-self, #emotions, #growth, #managingresilience, #resilience

Tears of Clarity: Why Being in Touch With Your Emotions, and Learning How to Cry is Important

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I’ve lived the majority of my life believing that crying was something I’m not supposed to do. See, when something is not modeled for you as a child, and you are actively told not to do that same thing, you don’t know how to do it. May sound funny. Not knowing how to cry, yet believe me when I tell you that many, many people do not know how to cry. What about you?

And, what does crying really have to do with our lives? I mean, are we missing something when we don’t allow ourselves the opportunity to cry? Or, is the idea of crying as beneficial, just more psychobabble? Not sure. I wasn’t either for 40 years. Yet, today, I have some ideas, so let’s take a look.

Why cry?

If we want to live a life of openness and possibility, then crying is something we must learn how to do. And, while crying during a sad movie is beneficial, especially for someone that doesn’t know how to really access their tears, when I refer to crying in this context, I am talking about getting in touch with pain that is deep within us. And, learning how to release it through our tears.

I’m talking about the kind of crying where we ache all over, shudder with pain, grief, remorse, anger, frustration, and sadness. The kind of cry that will bring you to your hands and knees in the middle of the night. That’s different. And, a very different experience.

For 40 years, I held all of my tears inside of me. They would leak out during a sad movie, or sad event, yet I could not just sit and cry. Nope. Was not possible for most of my life. And, what happens when you don’t know how to release those tears that you know are there?

For me, it created more anger, frustration, and deep pain. I was a mess. Really, I was. The slightest thing would “make” me angry, and then my emotions would erupt out of me. Why? Because I hadn’t learned how to let these emotions out in positive ways.

Photo by Alessandro Bellone on Unsplash

We hear all the time that young boys, especially in the US, learn, and are taught, that crying is not something that “men” are supposed to do. Social conditioning of this kind is so harmful. Very damaging.

And, while I knew this type of socialization was extremely damaging, I only really understood this intellectually. Really, just a theory for me at the time, yet I didn’t even know it. Why? Because to really know something you must have lived it, practiced it. The only real way. And, I had not done that with my emotions.

In essence I was the walking epitome of hyper-masculine socialization; even more so, because I actually talked about how much of a problem this is for young boys in the US. Yet, it was also myself I was speaking about. Totally unaware.

Then about 3 years ago I was shown a new way. A way that included the positive acknowledgement of my emotions, a way to handle them, and a way to release them. As you can imagine, dealing with my emotions one way for 40 years, and then living through them in a new way has been difficult, yet extremely empowering, insightful, and beneficial. And, I am still learning.

What are some of the health benefits of learning to cry?

I understand that the question above may seem silly, or even ridiculous to some, yet to me, it makes perfect sense. When you don’t know how to do something, you must learn. And, learning to cry, to release that which is, and always has been, inside of you, is no different.

Here are a few of the health benefits I’ve experienced from learning to cry.

  • The dissipation of anger and frustration – as you can imagine, living for such a long time without the ability to cry, means there was a lot of crying to do, and still is. And, with that release, the anger and frustration that seemed to plague me daily, has dissipated. It has dissipated a lot.
  • More overall well-being – with the release of the anger and pent up frustration, has come more overall well-being. Frustration and anger don’t really feel all that great. Not when they’ve been held onto for so long. Meaning that I feel lighter today. I’m not carrying so much of that anger and frustration around. I’ve gotten in touch with a lot of it, and released it.
  • Higher levels of patience – I used to always label myself as someone with little patience. Not a helpful strategy to begin with. And, how can one really be patient when they are holding onto their anger and frustration? Not possible. My patience has increased tremendously with my ability to cry as needed.
  • A better understanding of myself – when you get in touch with your emotions, really begin to understand them, and how they work, you also get the added benefit of understanding yourself better. Simple. You work on your emotions, and they work for you, instead of against you.
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And, the biggest benefit of all, increased clarity.

One of the biggest benefits of learning to cry, and crying often, is that I have more clarity. Really. It actually makes perfect sense. When you are holding onto your emotions, not because you want to, but because you don’t know what else to do with them, you are carrying around years of baggage. How can you see clearly through all of that? You can’t.

However, when you get in touch with your emotions, and actively inquire into why you feel as you do, your clarity about yourself, and the world around you increases tremendously. Super helpful.

And, when you are more clear, your focus, and intuition bloom. You can see where you are stuck, and inquire into the root issue, and become unstuck. Sometimes it takes time to get to the root issue, however, if you stick with it, it will become clear.

For instance, I’ve learned over the past couple of years that one of the personas I’ve taken on in my life is that of the hero. Wanting to save everyone from everything. Not helpful. Why?

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Because, when people don’t have the ability to fail, they don’t learn. Simple. Saving someone from failure is the worst thing you can do. People that identify with the hero, will be confused about this, which I understand. I was confused too.

However, through every failure, people learn a new skill, or have a new insight. These are important. They are the gems of being a human being. And, people need to experience them. Even when they are painful.

The insight I had about performing the hero was that it all stems from a desire I’ve had since I was little, which was a desire to save my dad from his pain and anguish. A stunning insight for me. Because I was unable to see the root of my own hero attachment, I always acted out the hero. Didn’t know any better.

Yet, by working on, and understanding my emotions, I can see that clearly. Very clearly. And, that branch of understanding is connected to many others that span my whole life. A wonderful thing to see and understand.

What can you do if you’ve not been taught to understand your emotions, and you are unable to cry?

You can start today. Start by making a choice to get in touch with your humanity, of which emotions are a very large part. Here are a few things you can do to get in touch with your emotions, which may assist you in learning how to cry.

  • See someone – as I’ve mentioned in other posts, I’ve been seeing someone regularly for 2.5 years now, and the insights that have come from these conversations have been life changing, and are irreplaceable. The techniques employed in these sessions are grounded in Eastern Spirituality, which I have found the most beneficial.
  • Find a quiet space – we all need our own space. And, to inquire into your emotions, and release them, you need space to do so. Find a way to create a space for yourself, and make it a requirement that you are not bothered during these times.
  • Inquire into your feelings – when emotions arise, ask questions about them, and see what happens. In my case, there are many layers of understanding associated with my emotions, so where I used to ask the questions, such as why am I angry at this moment? Today, the reason usually arises without the question. If you’ve never done anything like this before, start by questioning your feelings. You may find that what is bothering you is something simple, right on the surface, or it may be something deeper, which will require more investigation.
  • Write out how you feel – important. Writing down how you feel is a strategy I highly recommend. It has served me very well. I write my feelings down during my inquiry, so that I can see them. And, doing this has created even more insight for me. There is something about writing your feelings down that allows you to better connect with them, and understand them.
  • Let the cry happen – I can remember so many times when I desperately wanted to cry, to release that which was inside of me, yet there was always a barrier there. If you’ve lived this way, it will take some time to let those tears out. Yet, know that they will come in time. A little here, and there. And, eventually a flood. Remember, it is okay. Better language, it is wonderful.
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Once you’ve worked on your emotions for a while, it does become easier. Like anything, it takes time. And, it is time well spent. Believe me.

Our emotions are needed and necessary. Yet, for many, being in touch with these emotions is out of reach. It’s a simple fact. And, it is a sad one. When you are in touch with your emotions, you learn to cry for yourself first. Then you will learn to cry for others. And, at some point you will learn to cry for all of humanity. Why?

For the pain and suffering that plagues human beings. The pain and suffering that comes from being detached from one’s emotions. And, it’s not because there is no other way to live. It is because most people don’t yet have access to an alternative way.

Yet, I have hope that there will be a day when people will have more access to their emotional selves, and the ability to release that which they’ve been holding onto for so long.

For, in understanding ourselves better, we can understand each other better. And, when we understand each other better, there is a greater likelihood of us showing more love and compassion for our fellow human beings. And, with more love and compassion will come more peace. More peace for each of us, and more peace on this planet.

#being-in-touch-with-your-emotions, #benefits-of-crying, #clarity, #emotional-development, #emotional-intelligence, #emotional-self, #emotions, #health, #health-and-wellness, #health-benefits, #learning-to-cry, #tears

Creating Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence: noun

  1. the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is not something that we are born with, though we are all born with a set of emotions. Emotion, like thought, taste, touch, sight, hearing, and smell are one of our major senses.

It’s only been in the past couple of years that I’ve been working on getting in touch with, or, rather, understanding my own emotions. Many people believe they are in touch with their emotions, yet they are, in fact, simply covering them up with other things.

For instance, I used to cover up my emotions by overeating and drinking too much. Of course, at the time, I was not aware that I was engaging in those destructive habits as a way of denying, or refusing to accept, my emotions.

And, like many of you, I was not aware of nor was educated about my emotional self. For instance, I was not aware that when anger arises, today at least, it typically means that I am suppressing another emotion, which is usually sadness. Sadness, and the desperate need to cry.

I have read, and have taught, about masculinity in regard to emotions, and have commonly said, little boys are not taught how to deal with their emotions. In fact, they are taught to suppress their emotions. I thought at that time, I was in touch with my emotions, because I was able to theorize the accuracy of the information about masculinity and emotional intelligence.

However, theorizing about a subject, and actually knowing and understanding that subject on a visceral level are not the same thing. At the time I was teaching on masculinity and emotions, I was severely overweight and drinking heavily. Not in touch with my emotions at all.

Fast forward two years, and I am now just beginning to get in touch with my emotional self, which is both a painful and liberating process. Doing so has taken seeing someone once a week, and doing the internal investigation necessary to understand my emotions, and the events in my past that I am still holding onto.

Creating EI then is an intentional process of inquiry and investigation into parts of ourselves that we may want to leave well enough alone. Yet, what I am beginning to understand is that inquiring into, and investigating, our inner selves is part of being human, and our shared humanity.

#emotional-intelligence, #emotional-self, #emotions, #intention, #psychology, #theory-and-practice