This week, I was asked to share a story where I had grown as a person for an exercise on active listening. It was difficult to share my vulnerability with people I had known for less than 24 hours and yet the sense of pride and accomplishment from learning to let go of my guilt, learning to stop carrying other people’s metaphorical baggage spurred me forward.
The ‘listeners’ were asked to listen for beliefs, emotions and perhaps most importantly that which wasn’t explicitly said. In life, we rarely have the opportunity to look into someone’s eyes, bare our soul and have them truly hear what it is we have to say.
What’s stuck with me since the exercise is both the accuracy of their observations, but also the reflection that has come from identifying those things that I didn’t say. My listeners identified three emotions, all completely valid, that I never mentioned.
Sadness, anger and pride; three strong, true and completely different feelings.
What is it about those three, that perhaps, I resist?
The dissolution of my marriage, my children’s understanding of family and even the life I had created all invoke a feeling of sadness and yet, in the telling of my journey to overcome guilt, it was barely more than a thought.
I grew up in a home with a lot of energy and I learned my place as a mediator early in life; in order to effectively manage the people around me, I needed to manage my own anger. And despite the fact that most anyone in my situation would likely have been (and perhaps still be) incredibly angry, I find my choice to exclude anger from my story more acceptable.
Pride however, in my decision to leave, in my ability to grow, in my ability to survive, is something I do feel. The seed that I planted on that day just one year ago has grown with me. I find myself disappointed that I did not effectively express how proud I am of myself, however my listeners heard that which I did not say, and they saw my pride shine.
Now the question becomes, how do I own these emotions I have chosen to exclude?
How do I support myself each and every step of the way? How do I embrace all of my feelings?