Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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All Our Emotions. #ShePersisted. No. 35

No. 35 #ShePersisted
Mixed Media 11 x 14″
2017 Louise Gallagher

Years ago, when I was a newly minted manager of a communications department in a start-up tech company, I struggled with keeping my emotions in check when discussing difficult topics. During meetings with my boss, an A-Type personality, I would sit and try to explain what I was dealing with while he paced his office, continuously pitching a small rubber nerf ball into a basketball hoop he had set up on a sideboard.

I knew it was not okay to cry, but the more difficult the problem I was trying to sort out, the faster he would pace and the more unnerved I would become. Unnerved, my tears inevitably followed while I tried desperately to stuff them back down my throat.  He’d get upset by my display of emotion. I’d get upset with his rapidly escalating pacing and my inability to stop my emotions from stealing my voice and self-esteem.

It was not pretty.

One day, when I had to discuss a very challenging problem and needed his guidance, I knew the past would repeat itself if I did not do something different.

I took my own box of kleenex into the meeting.

In essence, I told him that my tears were simply part of my expression just as his pacing and throwing the ball into the hoop was part of his. At least this time he wouldn’t have to go searching for the kleenex box he kept in a drawer. I had my own.

The meeting went much better. He still paced but, having given myself permission to cry, my frustration eased and I was able to get through the meeting with my composure intact.

It was a great lesson, though many years later, I have still not perfected the art of giving myself permission to be okay with my emotions and how I express them. I still attempt in times of stress or discord, to control my emotions by stifling my truth.

The art is in giving myself permission to breathe and consciously invite myself to ‘open up to expansion’ so that I can express myself without censuring my truth, and thus my emotions. When I speak from my truth, without being attached to the outcome, I am free to express my thoughts without igniting emotional outbursts that undermine my power and presence.

Card No 35 #ShePersisted
All My Emotions

We are conditioned to think of some emotions as ‘bad’ while others we deem ‘good’. As we ‘grow-up’ and become more mature, we are counselled to not display too much of even those emotions deemed as good. All things in moderation, my dear. Don’t make a scene. Don’t be too emotional. You’ll make others feel uncomfortable.

There is no ‘good and/or bad’ in our emotions. There are just our emotions. How we express them is up to us.

We can’t control our emotions, but they can control us, when we do not heal the broken places within so that our emotions are expressed in safe and loving ways.

Anger, like laughter is simply an expression of how we are responding to the situation we face, in this moment right now. When our expression becomes radically greater than the moment in which we stand, our anger, and our laughter, are signs of something deeper within calling us to explore unhealed places. Pushing them down, ignoring their call, makes our angry or hysterical responses fight harder to be heard. In their fight for expression, we become a target of their need to act out, undermining our capacity to be fully present in the now.

This card is inviting you to explore your anger and laughter. Ask yourself, “Is my anger present based, or does it constantly simmer, just below the surface of my thoughts, waiting for opportunities to erupt?”  “Is my laughter genuine or am I hiding behind my ‘shadow laugh’, that nervous, automatic response I give when I am uncomfrotable, don’t know what to say or am telling myself I don’t belong. I am unworthy. Nobody likes me?”

Ultimately, expressing our emotions in loving and kind ways creates a world of loving kindness. When we allow our emotions to have unconditional reign over our lives, we are not present to ourselves or the moment. We are acting out from past hurts and pains, and letting ourselves off the hook of being accountable in the present.

To be accountable, we must face the darkness we fear within, and turn up in the light of today, expressing ourselves with loving kindness. Fully present, acting in all things with integrity including how we express our emotions, we create a world of peace and joy all around us.


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Self-love or self-hatred? Which will you choose?

A commenter writes, “Self-love is no simple task.”

It’s true. It is not always easy to love oneself. To be in love with oneself. To hold oneself in loving thoughts and tender mercies.

There was a time when loving myself was the last thing I wanted to do. Challenge is, I didn’t want to face the fact I was actively engaged in avoiding loving myself so I pretended I did love myself, well sort of, almost, some parts.

In my ‘I love myself but….’ I did a lot of things that hurt me. That hurt people I love.

I knew what it meant to love another — well sort of, at least as long as I didn’t have to face the fact I didn’t really love myself.

In my “I love you but not me” pretense, I could pretend everything was okay when actually, I was not living my truth. Not standing true to my beliefs. Yet, in fact, I wasn’t really lying — I didn’t want to admit I didn’t love myself so pretended I did, but because I didn’t, the things I did that hurt me, that put me in situations that were not self-loving or filled with dignity, self-respect, kindness — they were true to my feelings about myself.

Ahh, the webs we weave when we attempt to deceive ourselves about the truth of our human condition.

 

It is fascinating to me that for many of us, we think about not loving ourselves, but we hesitate to ask the next question. If I am not loving myself, what am I doing?

Am I hating myself? Am I doing things that express my self-loathing? Am I drowning my self-loathing beneath the false pretense of over-confidence? Lack of self-confidence. Humour. Anger. Acting out. Drugs. Alcohol. Am I playing down to my worst instincts to avoid having to acknowledge I am afraid to love myself. Afraid to see this flawed, fragile and frightened being is me — and I’m not loving myself enough to see that what I am doing is hurting me.

Is avoidance of self-love my game?

Long before I fell into the arms of a man who almost killed me with his abuse, I was in therapy. I wanted to understand why I did not love myself.

I knew it was true — that I didn’t love myself. What I didn’t know, what I didn’t see or what no one ever asked me was — Which hurts more? Loving yourself or hating yourself?

 

Recently, I did an EQ (Emotional Intelligence) In-Action Profile with my brilliant friend Ian Munro at Leading Essentially.

It was very telling and informative for me to see where my automatic default goes when I am under duress/stress.

I am ‘optimally fit’ in my Positive/Negative orientation, and ‘optimally fit’ in my balanced reliance on thoughts, wants and feelings.

In my ‘Self-Other Orientation’, well, according to the results it, ‘Needs a Work-Out’.

It’s all about trust. Boundaries and loving myself enough to set healthy ones.

Dang. Wouldn’t you know it.

In this quadrant the good news is, ‘I don’t let relationship ruptures fester or run on too long. The bad news is, I may find myself taking more responsibility than is actually mine to take.’

Taking excessive responsibility is the Achilles’ heel of those who are more self-oriented, the Profile tells me.

No kidding.

Starving children in Africa?

War in Afghanistan?

It’s either my fault or I can fix it. There is no in-between.

Just kidding. I know that’s not true, but somewhere deep within me is a wish, a desire to fix it. To bring peace to the world – all of it, not just the parts over which I have domain or impact. It is not succumbing to that place where I believe everything is all my fault, that is vital to my well-being. Of not giving into the feeling that if I could just grab a magic wand and sprinkle fairy dust over everyone so they could just ‘get along’ and quit making such a mess of relationships and our world, I will have done my job.

It’s all about boundaries.

About knowing what is mine and what is yours. What I am responsible for and what I’m not and then…

Yup. That self-love thing again — loving myself enough to give myself the grace of setting boundaries that honour me, and trusting others to be responsible for their journey along the way.

As I mentioned to a friend awhile ago, “I am getting so tired of people crossing the boundaries I refuse to set.”

Boundaries are great. But first, you gotta set some!

Here’s to setting healthy, loving and effective boundaries that get me to optimal fitness in my world.

What about you?

Feeling any need to love yourself a little more today? Go for it. There’s nothing to lose, because really, is self-love any more difficult than self-loathing?

*********************

For those of you interested in the EQ In-Action Profile, Ian is an amazing coach. Do check out his website. Leading Essentially

Thank you KW for your inspiring comment.


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Routine soothes the feathered soul – Tales of Beaumont

The Beau and his friend Diana

The Beau and his friend Diana

I am back to the office today. I’ve been off since Beaumont came home on Wednesday, though yesterday, I took him in for a couple of hours so I could attend a meeting.

He was in heaven. So much attention. So many people to meet and be adored by and adoring of.

This morning, I think we just might have the foundation of a workable routine forming.

Yesterday I bought a portable kennel to put in our bedroom and for C.C. to take to the office when The Beau goes with him.

Last night is the first night he used it and, he slept all night! From 10:30 pm to 5 am. Now that’s progress. Up until last night, I was getting up at least once to let him out. He has a kennel in the kitchen (C.C. says it’s the size of a Parisian apartment). In The Beau’s book, that is just too far away from the one’s he loves! Which means, when put inside at bedtime, he whimpers and whines and yips for a good ten minutes before quietening down. Waking up in the middle of the night, he was reminded of his alone status and pleaded for attention, as well as outside access.

When he went to bed last night, his little head peaked up out of the open top of the kennel. He looked at C.C. and me reading in bed, made sure we weren’t going anywhere and then, with just a little whimper, curled up and went to sleep on the bed in his kennel.

This morning, when I got up at 5, he was sitting quietly waiting for me to release him and take him outside. Now, he’s back in bed with C.C. content to continue sleeping. Yes I know, I wrote ‘in bed with C.C.’ not ‘in his kennel’ This his his morning treat and as this is the first day he’ll not have me home it seems appropriate he get a special treat as C.C. won’t be taking him to the office this morning. He has a golf game at noon and will work from home until then. Which means, The Beau will be alone part of the afternoon until I come home around 3 or 4!

It is all an adjustment, necessary and welcome, but a re-jigging of our schedules and way of doing things none-the-less.

This routine we are creating in the mornings, gives me quiet time for meditation and to write. How perfect is that?

Routine is important in my life. Routine allows me to not think about some of the daily things I have to do to keep my life on track.

Yet, routine gives rise to the contradiction of being present versus being numbed to the moment. It causes me to wonder though if too much emphasis on ‘being present’ can become a routine as well!

I went looking for a quote on the benefits of routine and found little. Most speak to the drudgery and stultifying nature of routine.

How fascinating.

For me, routine feels soothing, and in this complex world, things that soothe my feathered soul create peaceful interludes. They give me space to breathe into each  moment without having to plan each moment’s breath.

One quote I found that supports my POV is from Daniel Goleman, psychologist and author of Emotional Intelligence. Goleman says, “Scheduling down time as part of your routine is hard but worth it, personally, even professionally.”

Beaumont and I are creating a routine. Part of that requires me to change up how long I appear at my keyboard every morning. To ensure Beaumont’s well-being, and create my peace of mind, I must carve out some time for that all essential morning walk.

Time is finite and I have no desire to get up earlier than 5 am. So, the time must be carved from what exists right now, in this space here.

I’ve cut back from 90 minutes at my computer to 60. We’ll see how it goes.

For now, I’m off to engage in my morning routine and to add the delight of a morning walk with The Beau!  How delightful is that!

Namaste.