Your Reaction is a Mask

A Personal Story – She didn’t know I was hurt

I’ll tell you about my go-to emotion. Years ago, as I entered the sixth year of co-owning a consulting business, I began to lose interest in the industry and the activities that made up my day-to-day existence as the company’s President and co-founder.

At the time, I didn’t fully understand my inner call to move toward a more spiritually grounded way of being in the world. I felt disillusioned, stilted, confined by the business and its responsibilities. I approached my business partner, asking her to buy me out of the business. She point-blank refused, telling me in no uncertain terms that I had no right to exit, leaving her holding the bag. She wouldn’t consider my perspective or need, she shut me down.

I felt hurt when my partner refused to listen to my need to wind down my participation in the business. But, I didn’t express my pain, I conveyed my anger, my go-to emotion of choice.

My business partner knew I was angry, she never knew I was hurt. I created a wall between us that deflected the hurt and stumbled along with the business. This strategy ultimately magnified the hurt I felt, leaving me holding more than my share of responsibility for the way we ultimately ended the business, and eventually our relationship.

The backstory – “You’re being dramatic”

My hurt was a more powerful and uncomfortable emotion for me than my anger. I grew up in a home where I often felt misunderstood, unseen, not valued. And it was always hurtful. Always. Yet if I expressed that I felt hurt, I was told I was being dramatic, a ‘Sarah Bernhardt’. I learned to stuff my hurt feelings.

Anger was a much more acceptable emotion in my house. Everyone was angry! Thus, I was pretty comfortable expressing my anger.

Anger became my pattern, my go-to emotion

Flash forward many years into my adulthood. I had anger on speed dial, while I repressed any signs of hurt. I had difficulty witnessing the hurt feelings of others. Their pain created a deep sense of discomfort and anxiety in me, and I’d sometimes react with anger when confronted with someone else’s pain.

Long story, but hopefully it illustrates the point: that people’s go-to emotions cover the genuine emotions they’ve decided are unacceptable or too uncomfortable to feel.

Go-to emotions limit authentic response

The implications of reacting through go-to emotions are many-fold:

  • We unconsciously attract what we don’t allow. Hurtful experiences are part of life, and I’ve had a bunch of them! With the simmering, unconscious inability to acknowledge and own my pain, the invitation to hurt me was always in the wind.
  • Go-to emotions tend to derail understanding, connection and resolution.
  • Using a go-to emotion to cover a genuine one creates dissonances that transfers into the relationship. The connection that you have with the other person loses some of its honesty and integrity.
  • Go-to emotions are not the most sophisticated way to meet difficult experiences. They’re dredged up emotions from other times and places, reactive rather than responsive.

Which emotions don’t you allow? And which emotions do you use to mask them?

Let’s explore this together. Take a breath. Take a moment.

Think of an experience where you reacted with your go-to emotion instead of acknowledging your genuine emotions.

How did you feel using the masked, go-to emotion? Did it resolve the situation?

If you could have a do-over, what emotion would you express instead?

Replay the experience, using the appropriate emotion, seeing the interaction through to a successful conclusion, with ownership, understanding and accountability achieved on both sides.

Validate that this brief exercise is the beginning of disrupting the pattern of reacting with your go-to emotion. You are inviting yourself to respond consciously, honestly, with greater resourcefulness, resilience and capacity to engage and interact honestly with yourself, your emotions and others.

Have a Nugget!

I’ve created bite-sized courses to help you through some of the most common energy issues that people face. First up, a nugget to develop your ability to respond rather than react.

Imagine responding instead of reacting, finding your voice and speaking your truth, rather than circling the same old storyline that no longer matches Who You Are. Shifting out of go-to emotions is so freeing!

I hope you’ll join me for this nugget on June 20. Register now!

Responding, Not Reacting

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