The interesting thing I am realizing after years of practicing authenticity and vulnerability, and responsibility, and discovering more and more deeper layers as I go that I didn't knew existed. For most of my life I used to think that "being in control" feels safe. And expressing so called "negative" emotions was not safe. It took me going to a couples retreat to being able to get the words out of my mouth and express for the first time what bothered me (to a boyfriend at a time who was actually very loving and receptive). As I did more self-work and healing and stretching my comfort zone, I started expressing all my emotions, but mostly when I knew the container was safe. It also felt much safer when I got triggered to not show it IN THE MOMENT but go away, process it, feel it on my own, and then express it later when it's all clear and calm and not messy. This I felt was a huge upgrade for my emotional freedom and capacity to express myself: from not being able to say things at all to being able to express it fully, even if it was mostly mental and often after the fact. But better later than never, right?
A few weeks ago I got a huge gift and a glimpse of even deeper layers for emotional freedom that I had no idea was possible. But as usual, gifts often come in not very pretty packages. For me it came in a package of a super triggering situation (actually facing one of my biggest fears). Re-reading one of my favorite books ("Getting Real" by Susan Campbell) for the 7th or 8th time I discovered this new layer: full emotional freedom and feeling safe actually comes from feeling and accepting and expressing all that's arising in the moment instead of trying to shut down my heart in case of perceived danger, and protecting myself, or containing it and expressing it logically later.
Example (my super triggering recent situation I mentioned above, of course like anything else that is intense the trigger is from childhood, but showed up recently in an interaction with a man): I feel very unsafe when the man is angry, and projects it at me in any form. And even more so when he is angry and says: "I really want to know how you feel". I have a belief that when someone is already intense, me expressing my truth will only add oil to the fire and the blow up happens and it will feel very dangerous, I don't trust they can hold speace for my emotions while experience intense emotions themselves. So when this man asked me the question (and I knew in all my cells he won't be able to receive my answer) I has a choice to make: do I 1) hold back my truth trying to play it safe, or 2) express what's true for me in the moment and allow for whatever happens to happen. I did #1 way too many times in my life, and I knew my breakthrough was #2. And I did it. I said what I felt. He did blew up and actually left. And as intense as it was, it was so transformative for me. I definitely stepped out of my comfort zone. I did what I feared most, and I survived. I know now I can handle that in the future (so I don't need to hold back expressing myself at the fear that the other reacts a certain way). And re-reading "Getting Real" after that really landed. True emotional freedom is not when I control the situation and do everything to keep it calm and safe, and feeling safe and relaxed only in a certain bubble and container. True emotional freedom is when I accept and FULLY FEEL EVERYTHING within myself, EXPRESS myself fully, let the other have THEIR experience (whatever it is for them) and express themselves fully, and when I still stay open and allow their experience to affect me, and feel whatever I do FULLY in response to their experience.... Every single moment in time... Without any attachment to the outcome, keeping it safe or neutral, or anything... Giving the freedom to myself to experience and express everything, and giving the freedom to others to feel and express everything. Be fully present, and connected to the present moment, to my feelings, to the other, and just be experiencing and expressing it all. Feel the full range of emotions. Mine and others. TRAIN MY NERVOUS SYSTEM to be able to handle it (might feel overwhelming in certain cases at first (definitely felt like that for me in that case) but with practice that capacity grows).
Another huge realization: I am being hypocritical. I want a man who can handle all of me, feeling comfortable to hold space for ALL my emotions, stay loving and not shut down and not disconnect, and not react or lashing back at me or trying to "calm me down" out of his discomfort for intensity. But at the same time I myself am not willing to hold space for ALL his emotions and stay loving and connected: for example, I want nothing to do with the emotions of the other person to project anger, blame and contempt, I shut down and close my heart. Staying in this experience a few weeks ago and actually staying connected with the present moment and feel it all (which for me it was hurt, fear, unfairness, fight or flight danger etc..) was very uncomfortable, and very new. Stay in the moment and feel what is there, and not trying to escape into "comfortable" space with my heart closed and guards up to protect it.... The more I felt it and accepted it, the easier and safer it actually felt. If I want to have a partner who can handle all of me and stay open and connected even when being triggered himself, I gotta develop a muscle within myself to handle all those emotions myself while staying open and connected even when I am triggered. It may not be easy. It might require practice. And it's something totally within my power.
And another false misconception I used to have: I somehow made up that it's my responsibility to hold space for others' emotions when they are experiencing something intense, and that means I in those situations "should" be neutral, open, understanding and loving while doing so (AKA being in my masculine presence). Realizing in this case that my responsibility is only to be truly me in the moment, and experience and express what is true for me, not what I this I "should" feel. If I am inspired to hold the container, I can. If lots of emotions arising, I can also feel those. For example I don't have to feel happy and calm when someone yells at me, I can feel whatever I do in the moment (which depending on the situation might be hurt, unfair, angry myself, desire to shut down, feeling unsafe, fight or flight, or feeling compassionate, neutral, in my power, amused, curious etc...). My job is to be connected to my experience and express it, while giving other people freedom to do the same. And learn from it. See the parts of me that I wasn't able to, feel the parts of me that I am used to be shutting down.... And see if there are any opportunities for healing and integration, for myself and others.
Obviously accepting it all doesn't exclude setting healthy boundaries or stopping situations that feel abusive. That is part of expressing my truth. But even that can be done in firm, loving, balanced and empowered manner.
This article sums it up beautifully. Breathe .... and feel it all.... In all cases (not just in romantic interactions, but in all relationships and all of life).
So many beautiful teachers for this work of sacred intimacy. Susan Campbell. David Deida. Kendra Cunov. John Wineland. Kathleen Graham. David Mehler. Lynne Sheridan.
Excited to explore even deeper levels of emotional freedom and deeper intimacy that comes with it.
What is your current level of emotional freedom? Are you able to allow yourself to feel and accept your feelings (full spectrum) or are there certain emotions that you don't allow yourself to experience or have judgment around? Can you express it to the other person (whether in real time or after the fact)? Can you keep your heart open and say connected while expressing it? Can you feeling safe in the uncertainty of the situation and let go of the desire to control it or ensure a certain outcome?
P.S. We often make it up about the communications skills, and interaction with the other, but the reality is: every situation is neutral, us and only us define the meaning of it and feel the emotions triggered by that meaning. It's OK to feel it all. And it's up to us to change it going forward, if this is not the experience we wish to keep repeating. Discover what the belief is that creates the emotional experience, take a different action to create a different result and ground a new belief that you prefer.