Today we explore the tenderness of our human emotions and how we choose to respond to them. Do we avoid, fall into the role of victim or are we able to be open to our vulnerability?
Exploring Defense Mechanisms
I had breakfast with a friend/colleague yesterday morning and she shared how much she enjoyed Wednesday’s blog on the Warrior. We discussed the various defense mechanisms that we have at our disposal – the warrior, the perfectionist, the performer, the glutton, the miser, the suffering servant and the victim (just to name a few). The victim became the point of conversation as we explored the ways that we as human beings deal with our tender emotions.
The energy of emotions
There are times in each and every one of our lives where we are struck by the tender human emotions of sadness, loneliness, rejection and loss. These are the emotions that make us feel weak, vulnerable and sometimes afraid. When these emotions arise within us, there is an energy to them that is palpable – we can feel it. This is natural, healthy and a normal part of life. Emotions are neither good nor bad…they simply are. The problem is that for most of us, we were not given permission to feel these emotions, neither were we given effective tools for dealing with these soft and tender feelings.
Responding to our emotions
For those who were given permission and a safe place to feel these emotions, along with healthy tools for dealing with them, these tender emotions are just a part of life. They are not threatening, dangerous or scary. The ideal way to move through these tender emotions is exactly this – to allow ourselves to acknowledge these feelings, give ourselves the time and space to be present to them and in doing so, this allows the emotion to move through us, finding healing and release. This is how we can allow ourselves to be present to our inherent vulnerability as human beings. Unfortunately, this healthy path is often the road less traveled. Instead, we choose between one of two responses to this inherent vulnerability – either we avoid the emotion or we fall into victim.
Avoidance is when we ignore, repress, stuff the vulnerable feelings as they arise. Typically, this is done by seeking out distractions that will keep us from having to pay attention to the feelings arising within us. We find activities that will keep us from recognizing our deeper feelings – we watch tv, go to the bar, take on a video game, call a friend to gossip, go shopping etc. While avoidance in the form of denial is a natural part of the grieving process, it only serves to delay the inevitable. Eventually, we will need to acknowledge and deal with those tender emotions. Unfortunately, the longer we avoid our sadness, our loneliness, rejection, etc, the bigger it gets. So when we finally give ourselves permission or are forced into to doing so (because now we are depressed or suffering with anxiety attacks, panic or physical symptoms such as fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, etc.), those vulnerable emotions are bigger than they need to be.
Falling into victim could be considered the dark side of dealing with our human emotions. Instead of acknowledging our tender emotions and allowing them to move through us, we grab onto them, draw us into ourselves and feed on them like a vampire on its victims. Falling into the victim allows us to gather all the badness we are feeling to our selves, nurture the bad feelings and watch them grow. Embracing the victim allows us to remain stuck and stranded in our pain and prevents from healing and moving forward. Being the victim also allows us to avoid taking responsibility for the growth that could have occurred through the loss or to recognize and heal our own behaviors that may have contributed to the sadness, etc. The victim is the one that says, “WOE IS ME…I AM DOOMED…Nobody loves me, everybody hates me …I’m gonna eat some worms.” We all know this victim and quite frankly he/she is not very attractive. But lest we be tempted to judge the victim, again we are invited to simply recognize her for who she is and hold her in her own vulnerability so that she can gain the courage she needs to let go of the emotions that are feeding her victimhood.
Moving is the answer
So I guess the fine line between aVoidance, Vulnerability and Victim lies in movement. Avoidance and Victim allow us to stay stuck and prevent our healing from taking place. Being open to our vulnerability, staying present to it and allowing it to move through us is how real healing can take place.
Who do you want to respond to your vulnerability?
Authentic Freedom Ministries