“We are injured and hurt emotionally, not so much by other people or what they say and don’t say, but by our own attitude and our own response.” – Maxwell Maltz
In spite of the fact that half of North Americans are overweight and that losing weight is often the number one thing we can do to improve our health, our energy and our longevity, this article is not about physical pounds.
What I talk about here is weight of another kind-emotional weight. You might be tempted to say that you don’t have any emotional baggage. Perhaps you consider yourself emotionally fit. And you may be right.
I recently experienced my wife, one of the most emotionally healthy people I know, become lighter before my eyes as she expressed something she had long hidden. It wasn’t a big thing. It was just something she had been too polite about, a feeling she didn’t want to share for fear of hurting someone. When she did, she felt a weight removed. She felt and looked lighter.
The word emotion is from the Latin, exmovere – to move. So it literally means energy in motion. Unfortunately, our culture and our beliefs often cause us to stop the flow of our emotions. Our feelings are blocked in our bodies and this inhibits us from being our best. When this happens, our feelings are no longer in motion-they’re dead weight. This saps our energy and spoils our clarity.
Certainly there are times when particular emotions are inappropriate to display. The ability to master our emotions is often a measure of maturity and one of the things that makes us a civilized society. But if we constantly stuff our feelings and don’t express them, they become, at best, unnecessary baggage – extra weight dragging us down. At worst, they become bottled up energy that can explode in catastrophic ways.
Men especially have a hard time expressing their emotions. They often fear a display of emotion will look like weakness. This just isn’t true. By expressing how we truly feel and releasing the pent-up feelings, we free ourselves to be more of who we truly are-we become more powerful.
And it’s a learned skill. We get better at it the more we do it-especially when we take responsibility for those feelings instead of blaming something or somebody else for them. This is where we truly become empowered.
The information age in which we live often disparages our emotions. Bertrand Russell wrote, “We know too much and feel too little. At least we feel too little of those creative emotions from which a good life spring.” Many scientists believe that humans are the only species on the planet who have emotions.
And yet, our intellect often discounts and discourages this important part of our humanity.
We all need a safe place to express our feelings-the ones that feel good and the ones that don’t: an understanding loved one, trusted friends or even a professional. The important thing is to do it-and do it regularly. In doing so, we allow ourselves to experience more of our power, to see things more clearly (not filtered through blocked emotions) and to be more present.
I encourage you to get in touch with those feelings (usually the not-so-pleasant ones) which you have left unexpressed. Trust me, you have them. It’s not easy at first. But if you do, you’ll feel and look lighter.
Michael Angier, founder of SuccessNet.org, recently released the New SuccessNet Resource Book–the Top Must-Have Tools, Products, Services and Resources for Running Your Business Effectively.