What really hurts us

What hurts us is believing things that aren’t true and acting as if they were.

We exist in a culture that sends us myriad messages that we may not be conscious of receiving. Messages like ‘being emotional is bad’, ‘riches and power make you successful’, ‘what work you do is who you are’ to highlight a few. When we don’t question these ideas they become an invisible backdrop to all the decisions we make and the opinions we hold. For example: if you think that being emotional is bad then you will judge people as bad whenever you feel or see an emotional response. This becomes instinctual over time. You will see the emotional response and, before you know it, you will be standing in ‘righteous’ judgment. Righteous because you believe what you see is bad. The path to transformation lies in being able to look more deeply at the situation. The problem is not being emotional. The problem is believing that it is bad. This is an important distinction for emotional intelligence. Here’s what is more true:

1. We are all emotional.
2. To be authentic as individuals we need to fully embrace this idea.
3. To be effective in our lives we need to be clear about our emotion state constantly.
4. To make a difference we need to understand and master the expression of our emotions skilfully.

This work is not just important for emotional intelligence. It is at the heart of being human. When we reject an integral part of our nature we reject ourselves. When we reject ourselves it shows up in the world as rejection from others. Others sense our own judgment and follow the lead we have given them. This is when the hurt begins. When we feel it from outside of ourselves it is easy to assign it as an external force. They are rejecting me. Many people get stuck here and because they are unable to accept their response as something inherently personal. If you want to heal the place to start is with yourself. Preventing the hurt in the first place begins with the ability to be with our emotions as they arise. Our emotions are spontaneous and they are catalysed by our experiences. So initially you cannot stop them occurring. The best tool you have to work with is your curiousity. Be interested in what causes a certain response within you. When you reflect on your reactions you will begin to see that your responses follow patterns. For example when someone says something to me in certain way I always react in the same way. Your reaction will be caused by a thought that you believe is true. When you become curious about the cause of your reaction you will begin to see that you believe something that might not be true for the other person. For example a habitual angry reaction towards perceived rudeness can become an inquiry into behaviour that you perceive as rude. A simple and brave conversation about what you perceive and feel has the power to shift a strong emotional reaction instantly. This is the start of self-awareness. You can only change things that you are aware of so once you see a pattern of reaction you can explore what that means for you. You may be comfortable with it or you may wish you could direct your emotional energy in a different way. The path to shifting habitual patterns is generally not a smooth or easy one however it is an inspiring one. Open communication is a powerful tool for change. This is emotional intelligence in action. Developing emotional intelligence changes our lives. When we are able to respond in a way that feels skilful we hurt less and we are able to connect more authentically with others.