“Verbal skills and pure rationality may be what makes us so smart but it is our emotions and our empathy that makes us brilliant, decisive and compassionate human beings” (from The Language of Emotions)
So many things happened this month that brought out strong emotions in me! I visited Sicily and its volcano, Mount Etna. I walked the courage to try for opportunities in my personal and professional life. I also battled with the decision whether I should keep home-educating my children or change gears. Ironically, this month’s topic is volcanoes in our study schedule and through teaching my children I am constantly reminded of human nature and emotions. As we are learning about one of the greatest volcanic eruptions of Mount St Helen, I am laughing inside! If you kids knew how much magma is inside ME…you would be surprised.
Sicily is the country of eruptions and contrasts. It is a country of range- of fabulous food, fashion labels, of landscape, all of which reminded me of how we are with emotions- colourful, numb at times and explosive at other times. As a coach I know that emotions are only energy passing through us. I also know that our fear can shard like the snow-capped mountains into the cold air and our joy, anger or love often flows like hot lava from the Mount Etna. As a coach I know how to work with people who are emotionally over or undercharged. This month I grabbed a rope of courage to go even deeper within myself!
Travelling to Sicily put me in touch with my emotions and I learnt something new about nature as much as about my own nature. The nature of volcanoes is the nature of human beings. Volcanoes are the earth’s way of venting its frustration. It shows that the natural way is to release tension by emptying and pouring out and letting the steam release itself. The internal tension is in everything and everywhere- at work, in relationships, within us and in organizations. It is only natural that tension must exist. It is also within the innate nature of things to release any tension from time to time in order to bring balance back.
Walking around the crater of Mount Etna I could not help but think how the volcanic landscape is a new different world altogether! It is a ghost-land with no survivors . It is dark, barren, devastated and scary. When the tension is released, the effects of an outburst will create an environment that is soulless and inhumane. This is what we, humans can do when we burst out after suppression. You know what I am talking about, right? When you just swallow and choke your own tension only to erupt when you cannot take it any longer.
In one of my morning meditations it thumped on my head that my emotions were trained to be shut out when I was two years old. My father, who was truly a wonderful human being otherwise, had anger outbursts that left me emotionally resilient but always very sensitive to the needs of other people. By the age of 3 I learnt how to read his moods when he came home from a night out and I became super-sensitive to anyone else’s mood around me. It was such a deep river for me that I paid no attention to my emotional development until the age of 16 when I realized that I could not live with my cold, unattended, unresponsive heart. Since then I have been trying to befriend my emotions- strong or weak, beautiful or ugly.
Emotions are the most powerful tools of growth, by far, if we know how to work with and through them! Being emotional is not the opposite of being rational. Logic and emotions wok together in a healthy psyche perfectly. We need to educate ourselves about emotions (this is the logic bit) in order to work through them when they arise (this is the emotional bit).
While we cannot decide how we feel and what flows from the depth of our being, we can make a decision about how we experience those feelings. While we cannot stop having certain feelings, we can decide whether we act on those feelings or not. This is when the question becomes pertinent: is love a decision or a feeling?
Emotions are a vital part of us and we spend most of our time remedying our sadness, work against our guilt, evaluating our joy or running away from our fear. We do everything except understanding the nature and the inner workings of our own emotional life only to realize in the dark hours of the night that they are eating us away quietly and bitterly. They are chewing us in our psyche and keep us away or force our eyes open at 4.15am! They wake us from our slumber but we brush those feelings under the running car as soon as the kids are buckled or we set foot in the office.
I travelled to Sicily and returned emotionally more aware. My journey is really just the beginning of more self-awareness and discovery. I have over 30 stamps in my passport, from a different countries but now I know that there is no journey more worthy than the journey we take within us.
So where are You travelling next?