Growing your Range to Grow Yourself
As time has gone on, I have grown more in touch with my emotions - the good, the bad, and the ugly. I used to avoid the extreme ends of the emotional spectrum - never too angry, too excited, or too saddened. I lived in the middle - a safe place where I could feel without reaching my peak of vulnerability; and actively avoided all people, circumstances, and experiences that would take me to the edge.
Truth be told, I didn't even realize what I was avoiding until it was explained to me that the things that bothered us in the actions of others are indicators of what we've stopped ourselves from experiencing. As I began to reflect I realized that I couldn't be with people living on the edges of the emotional spectrum - too loud, too angry, too sad - all of these made me uncomfortable. I would hide, avoid, and distance so as to not have to experience the emotions that I myself was avoiding.
Imagine a piano, where the keys on both ends are removed. What does the music sound like? What is possible here in comparison to what is possible when all the keys are in place?
By denying ourselves of our full range of emotions, we limit the possibilities of our lives in the way the piano is limited in the music it can create. When we actively avoid those emotions that make us human, we cut off our ability to truly interact with, learn from, and be touched by the world. While the emotional ends can make us extremely uncomfortable, it is in experiencing them that we grow and become more understanding.
Do you find yourself pulling away from people when they express certain emotions? Perhaps you find yourself rolling your eyes when someone is really loud and excited? Or uncomfortable and feeling the need to fix when someone is crying in front of you? Or perhaps you will do anything to avoid an angry outburst, whether with a stranger or someone you love.
If one of these experiences or something like it resonates with you, ask yourself which emotions it is that bother you the most. Reflect on the following questions:
When was the last time you can recall experiencing that emotion?
What is your fear surrounding the emotion?
What do you believe the emotion says about someone who experiences it fully?
The fear and story we create around specific emotions can be caused by a past experience, or by a personal belief of what something says about us. But no matter what the driver is, it is by our own doing that we deny ourselves permission to feel fully. And in doing so, we force ourselves to play small.
When you find the keys that have been removed from your emotional spectrum, spend time understanding and breaking down what you have told yourself to be true. Give yourself permission to explore the positives that may come from bringing those ends back into the picture. While it will be easy to stay where you are, challenge yourself to grow into this new corner. As you do, you will become more compassionate with others, more understanding of the world around you, and more at peace with the person you are.