How does one contend with and work through difficult emotions when they know better than to let an event affect them? It’s one thing to know in your mind, based on past experience, that there’s no need to be upset or angry when thinking of the big picture of life and our experiences. When one acknowledges the bigger picture, often the event becomes simply a part of the narrative, a step in the right direction towards the path one is supposed to be on. But that doesn’t always mean negative emotions will remain at bay.
When a negative emotion arises in response to an event, it is often a sign of something that needs healing. The event triggers an emotion, the emotion a sign that there is a problem that needs your attention. On top of the negative emotion, realizing that something needs healing can lead to frustration, especially when one has spent a lot of time and effort working on their inner healing. One can then feel upset that they’re feeling frustrated with themselves. Feelings on top of feelings that affect one’s ability to be present and in the moment, that affect one’s ability to heal. It’s a vicious cycle.
To give a personal example, recently, I had two similar interactions happen to me within weeks of each other, interactions where I came to learn that pertinent information about the person in question had been left out longer than I felt it should’ve been. I understand why people keep things to themselves, everyone has their reasons for revealing details about themselves when they do, but those closest to me know that I do not do well when I feel I’ve been lied to or misled in any way. They were omissions, but my internal landscape received them as lies because I believe the information should’ve been shared from the get-go. Maybe had I not been through something similar years ago, the event would not have affected me in the way that it did. But I have been through this before. And because I have, I’ve always been verbal to people about the fact that I like there to be absolute openness in communication and no lying, whether by misinformation or omission. So, to feel blindsided by someone whom I had communicated this with, affected me greatly.
I’ve asked myself why lies affect me the way that they do. Not everyone sees lies and omissions as such a grave sin, some people even see behaviors like “white lies” and omissions as necessary. But no matter how big the lie or omission, I’ve never felt comfortable with it. If the information asks me to hide something, it negatively impacts me. That’s not to say that I can’t keep a secret. I can keep a secret, and have kept many thus far. But those secrets did not affect me personally, or affect the livelihood of that person or anyone else around us. Otherwise, I would feel the immediate need to tell someone. But when the information impacts me directly, I can’t live a lie. I attribute this aversion to the fact that I kept many things to myself, hidden from those around me while growing up. I was sensitive to the commands of others and often lived a life that wasn’t entirely my own. I lied to myself and others about how I really felt, out of fear. In the effort to no longer live that kind of lie, I hold honesty to be a value of utmost importance. Hence, why these types of events affect me the way that they do.
It’s frustrating because I have healed in many ways, but still lies feel like a huge insult to who I am. I know, in truth, I should be thankful for such information being revealed and these subsequent emotions arising. If anything, they trigger me to know that the situation at hand is not aligned with who I am. Or, sometimes, the situation requires deeper exploration and greater levels of communication. Still, there is a part of me, perhaps my ego, that feels upset that the person felt the need to withhold the information at all. It feels as though I was not to be trusted with the information. And perhaps I wasn’t, it’s not my right to know everything about everyone right from the moment we meet. Still, I often wish there was more transparency and fearlessness between people.
And so, as simplistic as it might seem, the best I can do is turn that desire inward and ask myself, “How can I be more fearless and transparent with myself?” Is there anything I’ve been lying to myself about? Is there anything I’ve done lately that’s been done out of fear? How can I be more open and trusting with myself and others? It seems simple, but often such questioning opens the door for much deeper healing and, often, the piece of the bigger picture that I was unable to see before.
Making use of these feelings, growing from them, is how one works through them. Avoid not the discomfort, but lean in and be curious. What can I learn from this experience? How much deeper can I go within myself? And how much deeper can my relationship with others become as a result? The answers are there, if we’re willing to take an honest look at ourselves and each other. We just have to be willing to be open.