I was minding my nephew Jamie after school on Monday and while I was cooking, he navigated his way to netflix with stealth speed and stuck on Frozen for himself and Sarah to watch! I’ve seen it a few times and of course, I found myself being pulled in gradually! I’ll admit that the words of ‘Let It Go’ are drilled into my mind but there was one line in particular that for me, really sticks out. Elsa sings ‘Conceal, don’t feel. Don’t let them know”. It sticks out because it’s a juicy topic, I can relate and it’s the focus of a lot of 1-1 work with clients when we’re working on emotional intelligence. Do you conceal your emotions or do you allow yourself to feel them?
It’s an area that I have been personally fascinated with for years. You see, I used to conceal – in fact, I was the queen of conceal! I’d put on my poker face, I’d take care of others, I’d bite my lip, I’d say yes and get swamped with work and smile politely like a ‘good’ girl. It meant I didn’t have to really engage, I’d let things just wash over me. Or so I thought!
In my effort to conceal how I really felt, I was actively engaged in numbing. Numbing is pretty much anything you do to distract yourself from feeling the emotions that you don’t want to feel. I was trying not to feel angry, hurt, anxious, disappointed, loss, empty and all those other negative emotions and it took a lot of effort and practice- it wasn’t a natural thing for me to do. I had to work hard at it but after a while I excelled but little did I know what the real cost was going to be…..
‘We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.” – Brene Brown
As the years went on, I lost my joy for life. I lost the magic, wonder, awe, curiosity and excitement that is present in everyday life. I lost myself. I wasn’t allowing myself to look forward to things or get excited in case I was disappointed. I wasn’t allowing myself to be happy for what I had achieved as there was always something else on the list. I wasn’t allowing people to get to know me and despite having a wonderful family and a wide circle of friends- I felt incredibly alone. Paula against the world. I put huge amounts of pressure on myself to be everything to everyone but at the same time, to myself, I became worthless. I was on auto-pilot, working hard and studying law (which I hated with a passion but ignored) because I thought that achievement or recognition from others would plug the empty feeling. It didn’t.
I had numbed everything, positive and negative and I lost myself.
But finally, after almost 10 years of actively numbing- I woke up to what I was doing! Cue meltdown, 6 year relationship ending, changing my career entirely, a lot of tears and a hell of lot of soul searching! I still have numbing days but life is amazing, inspiring and brings me so much joy now- in all areas! (The whole process and exactly ‘how’ is a long story!)
But as I said, this has been a hot topic with my private clients in the past few months. So many of them have been numbing for years and they’re recognising that their behaviour isn’t serving them and that they need to change. Some of the common numbing trends include cigarettes, alcohol, food, spending money (that they don’t have), casual sex, doing degrees, masters, PhD’s to bring them further up the career ladder (even though they know it’s leaning against the wrong wall) and the most common one I’ve seen lately is completely ignoring the whole sphere of their personal life and relationships and focusing almost solely on career! Do you know anyone who does that? Perhaps know them really well 😉
I wanted to share my experience with you so that you can be aware of what happens when we conceal how we feel- when we start to numb ourselves to life. Unfortunately, it’s far too common.
Why do we do it?
In most cases, we numb to avoid feeling vulnerable and exposed. We think we’re protecting ourselves but the truth is we are not. We’re hiding our true self from the world and the longer we hide and disconnect, the greater the risk we run of losing ourselves and our real connection with others.
“I define vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. With that definition in mind, let’s think about love. Waking up every day and loving someone who may or may not love us back, whose safety we can’t ensure, who may stay in our lives or may leave without a moment’s notice, who may be loyal to the day they die or betray us tomorrow — that’s vulnerability. It sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” – Brene Brown
Can you live life without love?…… Can you live life without allowing yourself be vulnerable?
Food for thought xx
****Check out my new 30 Day Programme ‘All You Need is Love‘ starting 29th May!****
This course is a 30-day program about the power of loving yourself. And, let me set this straight – I don’t mean a conceited, cocky self love; I mean a valuing yourself, going after what you want, honouring yourself, knowing your worth and expressing yourself openly type of self love!
It is so incredibly important. All of the rest of it — everything else you’re wanting in your life like meaningful work, finding your voice, standing up for yourself, asking for what you need and want, putting yourself out there, making new friends as an adult, cultivating new romantic relationships, committing to romantic relationships, making decisions on your future…..- it all sits on the foundation of Love.
Without Self- Love and Self-Care, we take two steps forward and one step back, we get lost in self sabotage and then listen to our inner critic and mind monkeys and we lash ourselves out of it for not being enough, our motivation disappears at the first sign of struggle or we spiral into negativity and we suck the goodness out of everything.
We start on 29th May 2016 but you’ll have access to the materials from a few days beforehand as well as the community of a small private group to keep you on track, motivated and accountable!
What we’ll cover…..
Building Your Strong Foundation:
Week One: Self Care vs Self Comfort
We focus our attention on Self Love and Self Care and what that currently looks like for you! We discover the difference between self-care and self-comfort, we look at your current habits and behaviours and develop new strategies for building a strong foundation of self love.
Week Two: Your Inner Critic vs Your Inner Mentor
In week two, we explore your inner critic (yep- that nasty little voice(s) in your head!). We look at where it came from, why it’s there as well as strategies to deal with inner critic. We also are introduced to our inner mentor- the most powerful ally and guide we have and we learn how to access her wisdom and resourcefulness.
Practicing & Maintaining Self Love in a Messy World!
Week Three: Your Confidence Rituals
In week three, we’re working on strategies to boost your inner confidence by learning to own your story! We’ll have your confidence sky rocketing to the moon as we make you the leader of your own life. At the end of this week, you’ll be more comfortable in your own skin, feeling more positive and creating your own rituals for confidence and success on your own terms.
Week Four: Moving Forward with Self Love & Integrity
In our final week, we look at your intentions from the start of the course, examine your new learning and how to integrate it into your life moving forwards. Life will always keep moving forwards and this final module will help to ensure that you are stepping forward with life from a place of self love, integrity and on your own terms.