Do you have a misconception about what it means to be a strong and emotionally healthy person?
Do you have an expectation that if you were emotionally healthy, you would not feel hurt in the face of others’ judgments or uncaring behavior?
This is not true! Let me explain.
When you are emotionally healthy, you are less likely to be devastated by others’ behaviors, because you have learned to not take them personally. But your heart can still feel loneliness and heartache in response to others’ unloving behavior.
It is very important to learn to lovingly manage these core painful feelings of the heart.
- The feelings of loneliness and heartache have vital information for you about what is going on with another person. They tell you whether the other person is open or closed, loving or unloving. You need this information in order to make good decisions about how to take care of yourself around others.
- It takes courage to feel these feelings and learn to manage them. If you are not willing to feel them, then you will likely turn to various addictions to avoid them – giving yourself up or getting angry to try to control others, or using substances to numb your feelings.
- It is when you avoid these feelings with controlling or addictive behaviors that you can do harm to others without feeling remorse.
- By keeping your heart open to feeling these painful feelings, you also keep your heart open to love. Feelings of love and feelings of heartbreak exist in the same place in your heart. You cannot shut down one without shutting out the other. You cannot truly love unless your heart is also able to handle the loneliness and heartbreak of life.
Healthy people are those who have learned to lovingly manage the loneliness and heartbreak of life, as well as their helplessness over others’ unloving behavior, or over painful events. Healthy people have learned that others’ unloving behavior has nothing to do with them, so they don’t take it personally, but they have not closed their heart to being affected by others’ mean and uncaring behavior.
While I don’t enjoy my feelings of loneliness and heartbreak, I love that I can feel them. Before I learned to be compassionate with my own feelings, I couldn’t tolerate these feelings. Instead, I avoided them by giving myself up or getting angry to try to have control over others not judging me or rejecting me. I numbed my feelings with food and busyness, because I didn’t know how to manage them and learn from them. Now, due to my Inner Bonding practice, I welcome these feeling with compassion and an intent to learn. They always have so much to teach me about what is happening between me and another person.
If you were to reach a point where you are not affected by others, you would have managed to close and harden your heart. Is this really what you want? Do you want to be so cold and hard that your heart can’t be hurt by others? The price of this is an inability to love and connect with others.
Connecting with ourselves – with our heart and soul – and sharing love and connection with others, is what creates the aliveness, joy, creativity and passion of life. Is there really much point to life if you cannot connect with your own heart and with the hearts of others? If you close your heart to the pain of life, you also close your heart to the joy of life.
Instead of closing your heart, why not learn to lovingly manage life’s pain? Why not learn to connect with your personal source of spiritual love, comfort and wisdom so that you can lovingly manage your loneliness, heartbreak and helplessness over others and events?
True health and strength are about compassionately managing the painful feelings of life, rather than avoiding them with controlling, addictive behaviors.
[Margaret Paul Relationship Toolbox]