mindingmybiz

This blog is my shared process in working towards integrating self-awareness with all other aspects of life, while on my way to becoming more authentic and whole.

Archive for the tag “mental health”

Self-Reflections on Real vs. Fake Confidence, In Relationships

I like who I am.  I genuinely do.  Yes, there are parts of me I feel more comfortable with than others, but they all make up who I am.  They all belong to me.  The sum of all my parts make up who I am; deep, passionate, caring, and completely lovable. Not everyone will see me in this way, at least not all the time. I don’t either, and I’m OK with that. 

Others have parts of themselves they’re uncomfortable with too, and when certain parts or emotions are expressed in me, it may provoke a reaction from others which illuminates how they feel or interact with their own similar parts.  It’s very rarely personal, but almost always revealing of how one holds certain parts of themselves, usually unconsciously.  That’s exactly why it isn’t personal, yet to the degree an individual can make space for all their parts it will impact the degree of intimacy or intimate-capacity they have for another.

In conflict, pivotal opportunity arises.  The opportunity to strengthen a connection by showing up with openness.  When the struggle (and it’s often a struggle, hence the conflict) to do this is self-acknowledged, compassionate curiosity can soften the edges.  

As a type 6 on the Enneagram, I can detect extremely subtle emotional energy, for better or for worse.  You see, emotions tell on us. They reveal what we tell ourselves about ourselves, and what we tell ourselves about others, all at lightning speed. Curiosity engages with this process and slows it down, because it all happens so rapidly. Slowing the speed down serves to prevent defensively disengaging and shutting down the process, or reacting to it by going on the offense against whatever or whomever we feel defensive towards. What often happens when we don’t consciously slow down to reflect, is a missed opportunity at best, and a self-sabotaging repeat of things we’ve later come to regret.

When an individual shows up with a non-defensive presence and can attune, or meet me where I’m at with sincere, non-judgmental engagement i.e. empathy – it is extremely subtle but profound. This is how intimacy is built, and it is also where it is lost if someone cannot engage with this process. The capacity to be intimate and emotionally available with themselves, and therefore with others is what’s illuminated in these moments. And with that, the opportunity to grow. And, there is always room to grow individually and relationally.

When the opportunity is seized, it’s truly a gift.  A gift that’s birthed in imperfection. It’s a privilege to witness this. What I’m witnessing is another sacred human’s strength and profound trust in themselves, and the impact of being trusted by them as well. There’s risk involved. I want to show up as honestly and authentically as I can, there’s little room for perfectionism in this process.

The natural slower rhythms of synchronicity within this level of intimacy spring from doing enough of this on an individual level first. When two individuals mutually cultivate this kind of space between each other there’s a shared protectiveness and enjoyment, and it’s quite nice and quite rare! So, treasure it.

And while enduring the experiences where there’s a lack of synchronicity, I’m learning to not take the misattunements personally.  It’s more than likely a ripple effect of the rapid past-time insecurities, anxieties, and defenses at play. The key word is: rapid. It cannot be overemphasized how important slowing down is, in order to engage in this process productively.

In certain cases you may find yourself in isolation when it comes to having the intention to evolve, and strengthen your own self and the relationship. When another individual (of which you have no control over) is more invested in their ego boosting their self-esteem, they will defend and resist with great effort. It’s hard to believe because it feels so personal, and it is, but it’s not about YOUR personhood, it’s about theirs. Their very own sense of self-esteem is dependent on a false self (ego) to feel secure, and there is rigidity, not flexibility, in the ego. It’s ego-preservation vs. self-preservation.

When the True self is the one fueling self-esteem, there’s an openness that emerges because the True Self, knows itself and all of its parts (the good the bad and the ugly) can belong so clearly to itself regardless of how anyone may react. It’s an integrated Self that is self-accepting.

So when you experience resistance, understand this is where you can also grow. And to be clear, resistance and defensive reactions can range anywhere from avoidance to fleeing to going on the offense by becoming either passive-aggressive or blatantly aggressive. This is indicative of ego-preservation, that results from having a fragile source of self-esteem (the ego).

When (not if, but when) this happens, you’ll have an opportunity with yourself to get very clarifying information around your own ego-preservation activities, which we all have to different degrees, and of different levels of awareness and intensity depending on how your personality operates (read up on Enneagram). The cracks in your own armor around this may likely get exposed.  Ouch. And welcome to the human race, once again. How you respond has impact. Invite yourself to become empowered.

Some of us are more easily duped by our egos than others. To those who have very sophisticated egos when it comes to self-awareness and where we are on our growth maps, you may want to ask yourself some discerning questions:

  • Do you value or dismiss what’s triggering you? 
  • Do you engage in vulnerable and compassionate self-reflection, sharing this with at least one individual who will challenge and vet your narrative?

If not, you’ll stay stuck and your evolution will pass this opportunity by, and will return again and again until you’ve worked this through to completion.  And, may then visit your descendents for the opportunity to evolve in the next generation.

Little by little, (which is the pace that organic life grows) you’ll stretch your window of tolerating discomfort as you receive these Divinely inspired opportunities to say yes to building a sense of genuine self-confidence that stems from grace and truth.

This is how ultimately how I see adult development works, whether I like parts of it or not. 

Fragility vs. Sensitivity

I am an emotionally sensitive person.  This is not to be confused with being an emotionally fragile person.  

My emotional sensitivity creates more incentive in cultivating self-awareness versus self-ignorance, because this sensitivity also makes me a more conscientious person who has to rumble with my ethics and guilt, and discern if it is healthy/ethical guilt, or if I’m being guilt-tripped beyond the point where my ethics have authority and I’ve crossed over into someone else’s primary jurisdiction of personal responsibility. Sometimes there are very fine lines, and grey areas of both/and. This is why boundaries are so important for me. It helps channel my attention and energy, which there seems to be more of due to this heightened sensitivity, and with that there needs to be heightened boundaries.

I’m becoming more aware of this innate drive to engage inwardly and do it with compassionate curiosity, because it’s nearly impossible to ignore and escape from due to my sensitive nature.

-Again, notice I said sensitive, not fragile.

An exquisite perceptivity resides within me due to this highly sensitive way of being. In and of itself, this high sensitivity is neither good nor bad – it can be both good and bad, depending on the situation, but alone it is neutral. Subtle or nuanced qualities register on my radar that often go over the heads of others. I sense, discern, and am aware of more, this is what it’s like to be highly sensitive. I have a sensitive radar, and have often been misjudged as being weak or “too sensitive” implying emotional weakness or fragility. But having this inner highly sensitive apparatus doesn’t make me fragile, nor does it make me a mind-reader.

Often, I will sense the presence of certain emotions, and that is where the conscious boundary is practicing being placed, thanks to Professor Pain in the class of Hard Knocks101. I sense an emotion, but can set a boundary with my Storyteller who immediately starts concocting a story about this emotion or the person, which has gotten me into trouble with mistakenly making boundary intrusions on others. I must say though, at times that Storyteller is spot-on or pretty damn close IF I’ve been invited into part of a person’s inner sacred journey before. But even so, this Storyteller is far from infallible, she’s still got human limitations.

Now, I will speak to this “fragility” label, because I’ve often internalized this. Just as there are special devices that can see infrared light which is invisible to the naked eye, this is how it is for me concerning emotions. Devices used to detect infrared light are considered a valuable resource when illumination and awareness of infrared light is valued. The device’s ability to do that isn’t slammed as being “weak” or “fragile. The capacity for emotional sensitivity can serve as a valuable resource for people with this emotional radar as well, when there is receptivity to emotional awareness. It can actually be a very valuable resource, when emotions are valued.

The opportunity available from this capacity is for me to connect more intimately with my emotions, and to the emotions of others. There’s a flip side though – it’s much more challenging to ignore or numb out from what I sense, even when I don’t WANT the awareness. Sometimes these emotions (mine or others) are inside of conscious awareness and sometimes, they are not. I am learning to expand the space in my conscious awareness, for there is where I have more freedom to choose.

This ability to sense subtle stuff does not make me fragile. On the contrary, I have the opportunity to turn towards what I sense or, turn my back on what I sense. I am learning to turn towards these with intention and curiosity, versus reactively invalidating or defending against feeling them, or projecting my own unwanted emotions onto others because they make me uncomfortable.

Emotional sensitivity is not the same as emotional fragility. Emotional fragility is often unconsciously dependent on being unaware and ignorant of an emotional life, for fear that the awareness of emotions will shatter you. 

The operative unspoken rule: “Thou shalt not be emotionally aware.”

Usually with the exception of one emotion (or if you’re super lucky- two, with happy usually as one of those “acceptable emotions”) – all others are rejected or denied because they’re threatening or “too heavy”.

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands! [clap clap!] Meanwhile all other emotions are denied.

– And this is emotional fragility.

It’s usually an unconscious transaction that’s passed on from one generation to the next, which invests lots of energy into avoiding or turning your back on emotions (yours and others’) rather than acknowledging or let alone feeling them. It’s not usually a conscious option to connect to them for better self-understanding or empathically understanding others. Emotional fragility makes empathy nearly impossible, and when it is present it’s an extremely rare and limited edition.

Emotional fragility judges emotional sensitivity as a nuisance at best, and as defective at worst, because being exquisitely aware of emotions is threatening and intolerable.  This is generationally passed down until someone says “enough” to emotional fragility and digs into their own inner healing work.

Being sensitive means SENSING emotions, not creating them. It’s being aware and receptive of them as they naturally arise. Digging through emotions is what emotionally sensitive people can value, because burying them requires SO much more work.  Burying over emotions is what emotionally fragile people value, because emotional awareness itself is devalued, at great relational and eventually physical costs. There is a connection between our emotional health and our physical health.

Emotionally avoidant behaviors usually result in accumulating emotions and this accumulation comes with hefty taxes and unwanted side-effects because it’s running away from what ISemotional reality, from the inside out. It’s resistance. And what you resist, persists.

Emotionally fragile people depend on not feeling their discomfort and becoming closed-off and defensive towards anything or anyone who triggers these f-f-f-feeeelings. This doesn’t seem to work against them until the accumulation of emotional debt piles up and start burying them alive. Usually personal relationships, either intimate or in the workplace, start to unravel. The build-up of a denied emotional life creates a tumor that is not benign.

Emotionally sensitive people who have learned to welcome and honor their sensitivity will start to work with their discomfort, becoming openly curious about it when triggered. I’ve also noticed, their “bottoms” tend to be higher than the non-sensitive person’s.

Emotional fragility is often a life lived while walking on eggshells, using more and more bubble wrap around self-awareness, until you can barely function without rigidity and stiffness.  Emotional sensitivity often requires you to live life with resiliency because you can’t live life with bubble wrap around your emotions, so you experience quicker consequences when you don’t take regular emotional self-inventories, but you also experience deeper satisfaction when you do. The lows can be lower, and the highs can be higher.

I am emotionally sensitive and have spent most of my life trying not to be, confusing emotional fragility with strength and fortitude. I’m now seeing through that smokescreen. Emotional fragility is a sort of lackluster of courage and adapting to that lack of courage starts to take its toll. Emotional sensitivity can be cultivated, when you accept the invitation to your emotional world and connect inwardly in a compassionate place, then empathically connect to others. This leads to an authenticity that is built on a kind of inner strength and fortitude that is resilient – not fragile.

Post Navigation