Whether you want it or not, emotion moves you. That is vulnerable. Emotions are your embodied reaction to reality, letting you know what is true for you. Emotions are physical. They can be painful and seem scary. But experiencing emotion in your body enlivens and matures you. When you can fully feel your emotions you can be more authentic, resilient and intimate with others. You can be yourself.
Emotion is so important for your growth that it comes with a physiological signal to catch your attention. When you feel grief, guilt, anger and even love and hope, your nervous system orients you with an uncomfortable feeling of unrest. Your wise body uses unrest to cue you to the optimal moment when you can grow: the moment emotion is rising. Unrest invites you to wake up, tune in, and be a conscious co-creator in your life.
But there is a trick that makes tuning in to unrest a radical act. Unrest speeds along the same quick circuitry as fear, your sympathetic nervous system. This makes unrest feel like danger, something to avoid. Unrest chimes, “Tune in and pay attention” but sends that message through survival wiring that warns, “Run away!”
You can see the dilemma. The emotion meant to grow you evokes a reflex to protect you. Without even realizing it, you disengage from what you feel. Instead of leaning into unrest so you can experience emotion and become more yourself, you escape. You distract and worry and shut down and turn against yourself. Your hunger to flourish bumps up against your impulse to protect, and the struggle manifests as disconnection from yourself and others.
This is the enigma of personal growth: you need to do the opposite of what comes naturally. Rather than avoid, you must instead turn towards and feel unrest when it rouses you.
Are you free to follow your dreams, or hampered by self-doubt? Can you stay present in the moment, or are you tormented by worry or regret or a frantic need to stay busy? Must you have control and certainty in order to cope? Or can you tolerate the inevitable ambiguity of life? Can you ask for help, or does that make you feel weak? Do you feel hopeless or self-attacking when faced with your human vulnerability? Does it seem you ought to feel more joy than you do? Or can you laugh and cry and feel hope and take assertive action to make change? Can you let in the love of others? Can you connect with the larger world and feel engaged and empowered to make a difference? Are you living the meaningful life you long for? Or have you settled for getting by?
You have the answers to your difficulties within you. Your emotions are the energy and information that will propel and transform you. Awakening from the slumber of numbing and distraction takes effort, but you are so very worth it. You deserve to live your most rich and authentic life. And the world needs people who can be moved by the truth and take action. It’s time to be moved. It’s time to wake up and feel your feelings deeply.