It was like getting dunked by a wave in the surf.
A powerful emotional force flooded through my body and I began to cry.
Actually, it was more like uncontrollable sobbing.
This was not a matter of just blinking back the tears and getting some fresh air like what usually happens at funerals or during the sad part of a movie. I was unable to control myself or regain control.
All I could do sit there and feel my face twisting in pain and the tears on my cheeks.
I was not at a funeral, or watching a movie, I was sitting about 5 rows back at a conference.
http://kylewood.me/ecstacy-and-viagra/ was on stage and was reaching the end of his talk. I had already been moved as he shared the projects he had worked on in Haiti, Rwanda and the rest of the world.
And then he got to the part where he told us his brother had recently passed away.
On stage before me, he began the words ‘my brother…’ and his voice choked. And that was the moment the wave hit.
Looking back I see the reason I was so upset was that Jeremy’s talk really brought into my focus my relationship with my own brother. More specifically, our disconnection and my inability to let him into my world.
Did you cry too?
When the conference stopped for a break I was talking to my friend Toku.
I told him that I couldn’t stop crying and asked him, ‘Did you cry too?’
He responded, “No, I used to cry a lot before I started meditating, I was sad yes, but I didn’t cry.”
A few days later I thought on what he said. I realised that my reactions to emotional situations are usually one of two things, either they are like an uncontrollable bush fire or they are kept back behind a shield of ice, keeping me cool and calm and disconnected.
The weekend of the conference I was talking to a lot of men about the Heartmen project. It required me to really step out from behind my usual ice shields and be vulnerable. I believe this is part of why I ended up a balling mess.
Let me clear this up though. I don’t think crying or feeling sad is bad. I just want to be able to manage it when it comes.
After all, it’s not just sadness that can come rushing out like this. Think of the last time you ‘lost it’ when you were angry.
Like feelings of sadness, anger builds up behind the ice shield too before bursting forth via passive aggressiveness or yelling.
In those moments that I am angry like that, I am not being my best self, I can’t possibly be because all I feel is anger.
Now, most people don’t like having someone completely lose their shit at them. It’s not exactly fun for them and it tends to bring on a similar powerful emotion in them.
So to prevent that, we learn to build shields to hold back our emotions in the first place.
People seem to like it when we hold it together at a funeral, it makes us tough right? They like that we keep a cool head in stressful situations, even if we are freaking out on the inside. And they don’t like it when we lose it and punch holes in the walls, so better keep that anger pushed down.
It helps us feel safe and like we are in control. Ain’t nothin’ gonna break through these shields.
The problem is that those same shields that we build to try and protect ourselves and others end up protecting ourselves from others. We close the door to connection because we are unable to show our feelings.
We close the door to sharing feelings like love and joy. We close the door to being empathetic of others because empathy requires letting ourselves feel what the other person feels.
We close the door to many awesome experiences.
One Simple Solution
We can’t stay shielded up if we want connection with other people and we can’t just let ourselves erupt in flames every time we feel emotional or else we’ll burn everyone around us.
So what do we do about it?
Toku actually gave us an answer earlier. Meditation. Or any mindfulness practice really.
I used to meditate regularly and it was awesome. It helped give me perspective to react to stressful situations in an appropriate way. The Fire and Ice method only gives us two choices, On or Off. There is in fact many other ways to react to situations in our life while still letting ourselves feel the emotion we have.
For me, meditation gives me the space to pause for a moment and then choose my reaction in a thoughtful, useful way.
Join Me in Meditating This Month
I’m ready to get back into it. This month I’d like to invite you to join me on a challenge: Meditate for at least 3 minutes each day in August.
I started this morning and it set me up for an awesome day.
Here are a couple of resources I recommend if you are new to meditating:
http://kylewood.me/viagra-buy-drug/ – My friend Toku runs a free 4-week introduction to meditation course. It’s free.
The Pause – My friend KC has a week long crash course into meditating plus a weekly online group meditation meet up. It’s also free.
Will you join me, Heartman? Let me know below if you are in!