I’ve been a bit absent, but for good reason. To be totally vulnerable and honest, I have been going through one of the most difficult yet biggest growing experiences of my life.
Gut wrenching, heartbreaking and heart opening, all at once.
The short story is that my relationship of close to 6 years with my fiancé, my partner in business and life, my best friend, and the man I loved dearly has ended.
It took me some time to share any of this with my readers, but I think I might finally be ready and my hope is that it will help you in some way, shape, or fashion. After all, I have been open in sharing a lot of my personal life in both my work and my writing, from my engagement to my mom’s traumatic brain injury.
Therefore, it feels right that I share this news as well.
It is deeply tied to the work I do in my coaching/teaching because so much of it lies in honoring emotions/intuition, releasing, and acceptance. And, it’s time to I let go more deeply. Seeing it in print is a deeper level of acceptance for me; all part of the grieving (and rebuilding) process.
At the time when I originally wrote this piece, the wedding was postponed (which was already painful enough) and I was dealing with the aftermath of that decision, as well as trying my damndest to save my relationship. I was grasping on to hope. Then, things changed drastically. 3 days after writing this piece back in June, the relationship ended altogether and we are now living very separate lives. Enter an entirely new level of pain, sadness, and yes, growth.
In what felt like a tornado that came abruptly and destroyed everything in its path, my life changed in every way imaginable. It quite literally brought me to my knees. It was death to me, a loss that cut so deep. Things are still settling down; I’m getting a new lay of the land, and recreating, rebuilding my entire reality. I am getting to know myself more intimately than I ever have before, trying new things/new adventures, and really practicing “yoga off the mat”…to sit in the most uncomfortable emotions/situations, not resist, and still breath and still trust.
But re-reading my original piece, I still deeply agree with everything I wrote on that Thursday morning in June, when I was blindly unaware of the storm that was about to hit my life and the heartbreak that would ensue, as well as some of the magical things that would come forth from the ruins.
The heart of the “Emotional Snobbery” piece that is about to follow is to honor all emotions without judgment, to give them space to breath and speak to you. Believe me, judgment wants to chime in around everything from how I could have been a better partner, how I think things should have turned out, and there is even some judgment around the beautiful, exciting things that have come my way since our breakup (should I be happy today? Isn’t that the “wrong” emotion?). It’s funny how the mind wants to judge everything.
Though I have so many lessons that just keep pouring forth from all of this that will show up in my writing/coaching, for today, I hope this piece on “Emotional Snobbery” frees you up around judging your emotions as good or bad. My dear, there is gold in both the dark and the light, if you are willing to stay open and feel it all. I know it is easier said than done. But truly, there is no other way…the way out is through.
Without further ado, I give you “Are You An Emotional Snob?”
At this moment in time, I am not ready to go into all the details, but I can tell you this, I have been swimming (and sometimes stumbling) within the ocean of emotions.
Some days, the emotions I feel include: Sadness, grief, longing, loneliness, disappointment, confusion, exhaustion, frustration, fear, anger, restlessness.
And some days…happiness, joy, excitement, hopefulness, a sense of possibility, freedom, love, inspiration, comfort, deep connection.
Most days, if I am really honest, it is blend of emotions, coming at me like waves.
I can get knocked down by the big ones, especially when they seem to come out of the blue.
Sometimes it feels as if I am at the bottom of the ocean floor, wanting to find my way back up to the surface, longing to feel my lungs with air.
Eventually, I do. I make my way back.
But what makes the time between when I am desperately seeking to reach the surface and when I actually do longer and harder is resistance…the resistance to embrace what I am really feeling and what is really happening.
It’s because I can give into what I call Emotional Snobbery.
What is Emotional Snobbery?
It’s the valuing of and labeling of certain emotions as better, more enlightened, more spiritual, more evolved, and simply more right than others.
It’s when there are a lot of “shoulds” attached to feelings. Like, “I should be happier. I should be grateful. I should feel relieved.”
Because you see certain emotions as having more value and as the “better” emotions, you stick your nose up in the air at those “less than” emotions (like anger, sadness, frustration, confusion, hopelessness) and decide to only allow the “more than” emotions in.
Often times, when you practice Emotional Snobbery, you not only do this with yourself but with others as well. You begin to judge where they are at and what they are feeling as less evolved, less spiritual, and even downright wrong.
“He shouldn’t be sad.”
“It’s so unspiritual of her to be so angry.”
“She should be grateful; what does she have to feel hopeless about?”
Emotional Snobbery can land you right smack in the middle of Judgment Ville.
Not a pretty place to be and dare I say, not a very enlightened or spiritual one either.
Emotional Snobbery lends us to judgment of ourselves and others. And judgment is the number one killer of compassion. It blocks us from telling the truth, of accepting ourselves and others, and from extracting the nectar of each experience…all the things which compassion brings to the table.
It also blocks us from the gift of true curiosity. If we don’t feel like we should or they should feel a certain feeling at a particular time, then we will do everything in our power to block the feeling. In the blocking, we cannot get curious about it. We can not allow it sit down beside us, tell us what it wants us to hear, understand why it may be showing up in the first place.
We may successfully pacify the feeling or the other person who has the feeling for a moment in time, but rest assured, the emotion will find other ways to creep in and get our attention.
Instead of feeling the uncomfortableness fully from being knocked down by the wave of that emotion, letting it grab us so that we can then know to swim up for air, we actually become dull to the truth of it. It can then move through us. We begin to numb it or lie about it. We lose the truth of the sensation, and forget that we are submerged in that particular emotional wave. Slowly then, our lungs fill with water; we stop breathing…and we drown.
Like waves, emotions come and go. They can be enormous in their depth and size, gentle peaks, crushing in nature, exhilarating, or soothing to the soul. But who are we to judge which are “right” or “wrong”? All are natural, all are part of the tapestry of Life.
Moving away from Emotional Snobbery doesn’t mean that we should live in constant states of sadness, grief, anger, or other “less desirable” emotions. I mean we all want more joy, love, happiness. As humans, we are hard-wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain. It’s our survival instinct, our human nature, our reptilian brain.
But to move beyond survival, to really grow our spiritual muscles, to evolve into our most authentic selves, well, that requires us to accept the other part of being human, which means we will encounter events that will bring us face to face with the full gamut of emotions.
Telling the truth of what you really feel, being aware of what emotional sensations are happening within you in this and each moment, acknowledging where you are really at, allowing that to pulse through you…all of this moves you from Emotional Snobbery into Embodied Emotional Intelligence.
It’s also your best way of letting the emotions rise like the waves they are, peak, and then dissolve into the next wave. Remember, we only drown when we fail to fully feel.
I’ll end with a little story that illustrates this beautifully.
Just the other day at the beach, I overheard a conversation between the lifeguard who was in charge of the tower next to me and her supervisor. The lifeguard must have been pretty new because he was giving her directions on what her two main tasks were while on duty, the main one being to watch where swimmers were in the water.
“Always notice how deep they are and which direction they are facing,” the supervisor said.
“If they are just up to their waist or below, typically they’ll be just fine. They can just swim away or get out if things get too rough. But if they are up to their neck, they may not fully realize how deep they really are. A current can come and very easily sweep them away and under.”
“Also notice if they are facing the waves or facing the shore. If they are facing the shore, and especially if they are pretty deep, it’s easy for them to get in trouble, get pulled, and possibly drown. But if they are looking in the direction of the waves, they can see what’s coming better and take the necessary action.”
We may not always know what’s coming next, but we do know (and must accept) that life brings its ups and downs and waves of emotions. Surely we can resist, not tell the truth, get up to our neck in it, look away, and possibly drown in it as a result. We can turn a blind eye to the present, looking longingly at the shore of our past/future, always wishing we were there instead of being HERE and AWARE.
Or, we can wade in the waters with a mixture of care and freedom, jump in when it feels right, look in the direction of the ever changing and magnificently ocean of Life, facing our reality, and yes, still at times get crushed and hit the ocean floor. But because we are willing to not resist and to tell the truth, we find our way back to the surface, regain our breath, and swim on.