Emotional Maturity

Last night I am at the gym and notice an attractive young man walk past me. We make eye contact but that is the end of it. I was on my way out after grabbing my jacket and think, “I hope I walk past that cutie again.” We cross paths one more time right as I am nearing the doors, once again I notice he looks at me, and I wanted to smile or something to show him I was attracted to him but instead all I did was turn and walk out.

While walking to my car I wondered why I didn’t even have the nerve to smile at him. I mean I know it is the gym and for some reason there is this unwritten rule to keep to yourself so no one really seems to smile or talk to each other unless you are asking to use the machine they are currently occupying ( or you already know each other). But why is that? Why I wondered, was I too scared to even smile at him? A smile is harmless right?

As I pondered my behavior I realized I didn’t want to put myself out there. As little of a risk as it was if I smiled I was extending myself more than he was and depending on how he responded I could feel rejected. DON DON DON… REJECTION!!! How crazy silly is this!?!?! I am being so open as to highlight a simple pattern of human behavior. We go to great (and small lengths) to avoid negative emotions, even if it means we miss out on life because of the fear to take risks.

Most of us are afraid of our negative emotions.  We never want to experience pain, heartache, depression, sadness, fear, anger or confusion. We give our best attempts to avoid, repress, ignore or somehow stuff them away. Anti-depressants, drugs, alcohol, food, sugar, television, sleep anything to keep our minds busy on something else. Our whole culture is addicted to all sorts of distractions and quick fixes to help us escape our unpleasant or difficult feelings and few of us have any sense of mastery over simply being with our own emotions.

Why are we so afraid to feel? What is so bad about feeling? In fact our emotions serve a purpose. They act as a window for us to see how we are interpreting the world, to help us recognize irrational beliefs. They teach us boundaries, they protect us. They help us recognize all that’s good as well. How could we ever understand happy without sad, peace without stress, or love without anger? We need the whole spectrum to appreciate the good, without it we would simply take it for granted. Our ability to recognize what we are feeling when we are feeling it is crucial to live healthy lives.

I invite you to take time to just be with the feelings you notice are present within you. Welcome them, even the unpleasant ones. Simply pay attention to the feelings you feel without trying to resist or judge them in any way. See what these feelings are here to tell you. See what you can learn from them. As you do it may be scary and it may be intense but the only way to really find peace is to go there and let yourself feel fully. This is where all the magic can begin to happen…the magic of life!

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