Today’s blog continues the discussion on “Holding the Tension,” specifically, how to create balance in our lives and not being driven by the sometimes chaotic drive of our emotions while still allowing ourselves to feel.
Hidden in the Cards
Yesterday unexpectedly became a LAURI DAY for me. I completed the tasks I had planned for the day by 10am and then I had nothing to do and no kids in the house to please. So, I embraced this as a time to read, reflect, rest, ritualize. One of the choices I made that fell into the ritualize and reflect quadrant was to pull a card from my inspirational card deck. The card I pulled was TEMPERANCE. Traditionally, we think of temperance from a material perspective – not overindulging, taking only what we need and nothing more, sharing with others. In the past two years, I have had NO CHOICE but to live from a place of temperance materially. So, the meaning of this card had to be mental, emotional or spiritual. It turns out that for me, the invitation to embrace temperance covered all three.
A little background: As a recovering perfectionist, a Type 1 on the Enneagram, emotional intelligence is something that I have had to learn. When rooted in my compulsion (as most of us are until we begin the journey of self-awareness), I had to be perfect. Perfect meant being Mary Poppins – not showing emotion, being impeccably dressed in Talbot’s conservativism, collars buttoned up tight, shoes laced up to the knees. To the world, I had to be put together and unflappable. The only threat to this unflappable Lauri was the on-going tide and swirling current of chaotic emotions that were tumbling around beneath my stoic exterior. The only way I knew how to survive the chaos within was to IGNORE IT. The problem with ignoring emotions is that our Inner Spirit, our Inner Truth needs to be experienced, needs to be made known and when we ignore who we really are, when we ignore our truth, we feel RESENTMENT and ANGER. As such, these were the only two feelings I really knew and as a perfectionist, the WORST thing you can feel or be is angry. Now throw some shame and guilt on top of that messy pile of emotions and all you get it YUK!
Learning by Feeling
In perfect universal timing, the following showed up in my email box this morning as a reminder of the journey toward emotional intelligence for the Perfectionist/Reformer/Type 1:
The overall keynote of Ones is objectivity.
Ones attempt to be objective, rational, and fair-minded and to be unmoved by
personal desires or private passions that would interfere with their obligation
to meet their own standards. Notice today when you are being overly objective.
(Understanding the Enneagram, 132)
As these words remind, part of my growth journey (and the journey for many) has been to let go of these standards of rigidity and embrace the swirling chaos of emotions that flows beneath the icy surface of my temperament. Since the birth of my children, the journey toward emotional intelligence has been my focus (not necessarily by choice, mind you!) – learning to FEEL, ACCEPT, BE OK with what I was feeling, when I was feeling it. I had to learn to feel joy, happiness, love. I also had to learn how to feel the pain of loss, disappointment, grief, betrayal. And I had to learn the source of all the resentment that was locked up in my body and I had to be ok with anger. In contemporary terms, I had to embrace my inner Kat Von D. Not a journey for the faint of heart…..but necessary and valuable. I would say I’m maybe 75% along the path of emotional intelligence (if we can even measure this) and at this point, I can say it has been totally worth it. I don’t think I’d be able to do the work I do or write what I write if I wasn’t comfortable with the sea of emotions that flow through my consciousness….and that I suspect flows through yours as well.
The Catch 22 and Temperance
But, there is a Catch 22 to this discovery and acceptance of our emotions. That is the temptation to get swept up, carried away and controlled by our emotions. When we are too attentive to our emotions, especially those that might be rooted in fear, it is difficult not to react to them. For me, this reacting to my emotions presents itself through compulsive behaviors: spending time on meaningless, non-productive activities rather than doing the tasks that really need my attention, spending too much time on emails, Facebook, chat sites, worrying and fretting about things over which I have no control, seeking for “surety and security” in an unsafe world. This is where my self-appointed Board of Directors’ wisdom comes in handy: HOLD THE TENSION. (for more on that, see Monday’s blog!). Instead of reacting to my fearful, anxiety-ridden, worrisome emotions, I am invited to SIT WITH THEM….FEEL THEM….ACCEPT THEM…EMBRACE THEM. Instead of running to compulsive behaviors as a way to fix, eradicate or solve an emotion….I am asked to BE WITH the emotion and ALLOW IT. This, I believe, is the definition of TEMPERANCE and a great reminder for me today as I face a weekend of non-activity. There is nothing I have to do….fix….or heal. I can simply be……happiness, joy, contentment, anxiety, worry, fear and all and everything will be ok.
How comfortable are you with your emotions?
Where do you find yourself tempted to react to your fear-based emotions?
How might you practice Temperance today?
Authentic Freedom Ministries