We humans come up with brilliant ways of distracting ourselves from the emotions we don’t want to feel. Most of the time we don’t even know what it is that we are trying to avoid, but one thing is for sure: we are not ready to be uncomfortable.
There is a tendency, especially in Western societies, to chase happiness like some kind of end goal to a game we call life. We have been hammered with the message that in order to be okay, we need to feel happy all the time. And of course, when this is not happening, we feel inadequate or even worse, broken.
On top of that, for the past 100 years, the science of marketing has made sure to capitalise on our insecurities, creating ones that we never knew existed.
Our culture is hellbent on upward movement, on growth, on feeling good, on the idea of bigger-better-more. But what if the end game is not achieving happiness?
What if a life lived fully is as simple as being comfortable with all our emotions and vulnerable humanness without trying to make them go away?
When we avoid “negative” emotions, we cut ourselves off from most of our feelings. In adult life that can result in lack of purpose, that “feeling empty inside” sensation and generally feeling different from others. Emotions are an integral part of who we are, so when they are blocked out, we are disconnected from an essential part of ourselves.
Feelings of greed, hatred, sadness or jealousy are all valid and we have them for a reason. They signal us to act differently. When we run from them, they will keep chasing us. They can show up in different ways: anxiety, overwhelm, burnout, depression, codependent tendencies, narcissistic tendencies… the list is endless. But these are only the symptoms of a much deeper issue: disconnection from ourselves.
There are various ways of re-establishing that connection: shadow work, inner child work, meditation, IFS (internal family systems), feeding your demons practice, mindfulness practices, breathwork, nervous system regulation etc. Some of these are somatic approaches (using the body to access information), some are cognitive (using the mind to access information) and some spiritual.
From time to time, a new, shiny solution pops up, something that becomes the flavour of the month like Polyvagal Theory by Stephen Porgess, most recently.
Some of us can use all these new practices, and the constant learning about them, to do exactly what we are trying to solve: distract from our uncomfortable emotions.
The above-mentioned modalities can all work if we actually do them, if we show up and practice every day. They all require the vulnerable act of introspective exploration: asking questions and finding answers within.
Life is an interplay between strength and sensitivity: too much strength makes us lose connection with the sensitivity to life, too much sensitivity makes us lose the capacity to act. We need inner strength to be able to stay in the face of difficulty. Vulnerability is having the inner strength to be undefended.
The nature of life is painful, there is no way of avoiding it. We all experience heartbreak, grief, sadness, loss, jealousy and anger in our lives. When we learn to be okay with those feelings, that is when we find peace.
What is helpful is having a guide to support us on this exploration. This used to be available to most people throughout history in the form of village elders, shamans or spiritual leaders. Nowadays, we need to seek out the help of a professional, either a therapist or a coach.
This deeper work is what real coaching can help you with. Not just the quick tools and fixes that help you out for a few days. It requires commitment and authenticity from both the coach and the coachee, but the results are transformational and long-lasting.
If you are new to coaching or a seasoned coachee who wants to try a slightly different approach, we are opening up 6 introductory sessions with 50% discount in this coming month.
Be one of the six introspective explorers, who gets a bespoke coaching session with me. I would be honoured to be your guide on this exploration.