Hiding hinders your help. Not because help is missing, but because you think denying weakness is strength.
“I have not cried when I could have. That makes me strong.” NO! That indicates to you that you have no safe place to release your emotions. You are forced to keep that energy bottled up inside. It slowly eats away at your sense of what is authentic and emotionally real. You eventually lose the ability to discern your own emotional state. You also lose the ability to discern the intentions and commitment of others.
The good news is that you may be able to reclaim your authenticity. I have three don’ts and three do’s that will give you a great chance at recovery.
Don’ts in Authenticity Recovery
- Don’t use intoxication as emotion management. Alcohol is the chief among these self-medicators. If you must drink, write your feelings in a journal before you imbibe. You have to know what it feels like in order to know authentic feelings. Alcohol lies about forgetting, while providing temporary space from emotion and feeling. That space is distance from authentic self.
- Don’t rehearse with others what you should have or want to say to someone else. Unless the person you are rehearsing with is a counselor, you risk fooling yourself into a sense of power that self will continually discount. No matter how good the “I should have told him…” gets, you will know that you did not. Pull out your pen, and write that honest letter to the person. Once you’re done, decide if you should read it to them. If so, read it. If not, burn it.
- Don’t allow yourself to practice passive aggression. Determine what your requirement is within the contract of the relationship. If you cannot carry out those duties with competence and procedural vigor, you will have to confront the situation with the person. To decrease your level of effort below what is contracted is to begin to amass fault even if the original slight was not yours.
Do’s for Authenticity Promotion
- Cry for goodness sake. Feel your emotions. Emotionlessness is not a sign of strength. In fact, it’s the psychosis responsible for the world’s greatest atrocities. Remember that what you lose in denial is not only your awareness of your emotional state. You also lose the ability to discern the intentions of others. This leaves you prey to those who stalk the emotionally vulnerable.
- Rehearse your positive-emotion strengths. Even without trusted friends, wise mentors, or competent counselors, you can watch movies, comedy shows, or silly YouTube videos that make you laugh. Laughter is medicine. Comedy is cure. The goal is not to deny that pain exists in the world. The goal is to remind yourself that there is more, other emotions exist. They nourish rather than deplete.
- Get physical. The easiest wall to build is a wall of isolation. It manifests in different ways. Weight gain is the most obvious. Getting physical addresses multiple emotional needs all at once. I suggest exercise that challenges you. My favorite is push-ups until exhaustion. You may want to buy a punching bag. Running does it for some. Getting physical activity releases endorphins, reduces appetite (emotionally-charged binge version), and dissipates excess energy. You resolve clear headed and better able to direct the energy that remains.
Stop thinking that you have to be strong. It is in exploring your weakness that you find the opportunities to build strength. You have to let go in order to take hold of new options. You have to walk away in order to gain new perspective. You have to give up in order to get back to basics. You definitely have to stop doing it all yourself in order to benefit from help.