I was sipping my coffee and trying to make sense of my surroundings while I was browsing through the Sunday Times yesterday morning. I stumbled across an article about Walter James, a man of 100 years of age. In a moving article he described how he lives- alone, in a slow motion and restricted in many ways. What was astonishing about his life, however, was how he described that he lived without real emotions.
“Sensations of excitement and elation have been lost. All I can do it imagine them”-he says. He remembers the routine of being in love but not the feeling of it. He remembers what is it like to “do “ love in his mind, but not feel it in his body. He remembers what success is like but cannot experience it any longer. He says, old age does not only change the body but most importantly it changes our psyche.
I wondered for a second what it would be like to live without feelings. Then I realized that this man’s life is a lesson for us all as this is what we, humans do on many occasions in our life. And we are not even near to being a 100 years old yet! We, willingly or unwillingly build coping mechanisms around us so that we feel protected from emotions or showing vulnerability. We numb the pain when someone hurts us. We shut out the feeling of fear and “ try to move on”. When something does not go in our way, we lock out the feeling of failure because it is so debilitating that we cannot breathe at work! We swallow our tears when all we want to do is scream and cry our pain out to the world. We do anything but LIVE our feelings.
We think people who show emotions are weak and vulnerable. We teach our children that the ultimate sign of being a macho man is the ability not to cry! We think power lies in our ability to hide feelings so we can come across powerful. As I work with people of all sorts of powers I realize that without feelings we are just an empty shell. The people of power become real when they get in touch their own feelings. When they dare to feel the way they do! When they dare to say what has never been said! The become real when they own up themselves! People of power know their way around feelings, they are comfortable with them and know when and how to express them in the most appropriate way. People of power are friends with emotions and this forms part of their natural charisma. Through this process they alight their undeniable passion and suddenly they feel much more connected to the people and the world around them.
Human beings are not designed to be without emotions and no matter how much we deny, emotions work in us- whether they are open or hidden-and they do their job very well! They come through dreams, unspoken truths and heated arguments. They show us what touches us in our core. They flag up when something is against our values. They bite into our flesh when one of our fundamental principles has been violated. They are powerful and serve us in a grand way- they make us ALIVE and being alive is the greatest gift we can have as a human being!
When we feel and I mean really feeeel our emotions, we work through solutions. By not denying what our body is feeling, we honour what our heart is noticing. When we tune in and feel pain, achievement, joy, happiness or hurt, we honour our hearts. By this awareness we are already working on the solutions to our problems.
Today what emotions are you going to honour?
– The love you have for someone?
– The scorching pain in your chest?
– The hurt your last encounter with a friend caused you?
– Your success and joy of achievement you have never really celebrated?
Whatever you do today, feel your feelings and enjoy being alive!