“People try to bottle up their emotions, as if it's somehow wrong to have natural reactions to life.” ~ Colleen Hoover, 'Maybe Someday'
Why am I on a kick about ‘hiding our feelings’ you might be wondering?
And even if you haven’t been wondering, I’m going to tell you. I was a master at hiding my feelings, even from an early age. I remember being on a camping trip when I was a girl scout and I had to carry a pot of boiling water from the stove to a table where we were going to wash dishes. Some of the water splashed out onto me and burned my stomach. Ouch, it really hurt! But I didn’t say anything or tell anyone. I still have a scar on my stomach from that event. (yes, that's my actual girl scout sash in the photo)
Another time I was taking bareback horse-riding lessons and the horse stepped on my toe (I was only wearing tennis shoes). Another ouch. And again, I just took the pain and didn’t say anything to anyone (no scar on that one).
Declaring my pain in those two instances would have been a natural reaction to life. I don’t think anyone would have criticized me for saying ‘ouch, that hurt,’ yet even from that young age (I think I was around 10 years old), I must have gotten a message that it wasn’t okay to share my emotions or feelings.
My married life led me to getting a PhD in hiding my feelings. My husband would use my vulnerabilities and weaknesses against me in some sort of emotional blackmail, so I quickly learned to hide any sort of emotions that could be used against me.
So, imagine my delight, when I found a belief system that seemed to encourage me to hide these negative emotions. And I pursued this belief system with vigor. I even became a minister and founded two churches.
But I think the first time I knew something wasn’t quite right was when I was taking some advanced spiritual courses and during the guided meditation, the instructor would say, “go within, deep within, to the light that you are.” Now, I didn’t believe that deep within me was light; I thought it was dark. I had been hiding for so much of my life, I was convinced I was darkness. So, I could only go within to about chest-level. Beyond that, I was afraid.
Of course, I couldn’t share this fear with anyone because I was so good at pretending to be light and love and joy. So there was a huge disconnect between what I professed to believe and what I felt and this led to me feeling like a fraud and a failure and inauthentic.
Enter spiritual bypassing.
When I read about this [new to me] idea, I knew in an instant that this was what I was doing and imagine how relieved I felt to know that I wasn’t alone. It was as if a curtain was lifted. I felt free. And I finally gave myself permission to think for myself regarding a lot of the ‘New Thought jargon’ that I had been hearing and embracing and teaching for over 20 years.
“Act as if” and “fake it ‘til you make it” were my mottos. And super-easy for me because faking it was my middle name. And of course, I had ‘acted as if’ I had my crap together for years. But deep inside, I knew I was a sham and a fraud. This did not help my self-confidence or self-esteem.
The point here isn’t to act as if and fake it and hide your feelings. The point is to adopt a higher level of awareness and higher degree of consciousness, deliberately and with intention. For me, in order to get to that level of imagining and acting from the place where I wanted to be (in consciousness) – I had to first feel my feelings that were getting in my way, not hiding from them.
“Don’t take it personally” really helped me detach from my feelings. After all, if I was hurt, angry, or upset about what someone said to me, it wasn’t about me at all, right? It was about them. And their perception. So I got really, really good at talking myself out of hurt, angry, or upset. Of course, I was still hurt, angry, or upset – I just shoved those feelings aside and thought I was doing the right thing.
The point here is that we are each responsible for our own reactions and behaviors. Yes, the other person may have misunderstood or have a different perception which caused them to react harshly. But if we are feeling hurt, angry, or upset, then that is OUR FEELING and it is very personal. We can feel those emotions and learn from them. What was the trigger for us? How might we have participated (even unknowingly) in how the other person reacted? And then deal with our hurt or anger, feel it and move through it – maybe even get to the bottom of it – and what if we have a healing?
It was scary for me to begin to feel. But now I love it. And I feel free and authentic and badass (and like a real person).
And that’s why I’m on a kick about ‘hiding our feelings.’
Janet works with badass women who don’t yet know they are badasses who struggle with putting everyone else first and themselves last and would like to reclaim their power so they can trust their brilliance, explode into their boldness, and create their badass life.
What separates her service from other coaches is that she effectively blends humor, inspiration, and encouragement with practical tools and innovative strategies. And because of this, clients receive the clarity and self-confidence they need to say ‘yes’ to themselves for a change and live the life they didn’t dare to dream of.
Believing in you and your possibilities
Janet Kingsley is an effective 'Belief Change Expert' who helps clients transform frustration to focus, confusion to clarity, and self-doubt to self-confidence.