We spend the first ten years of life learning by observing and mimicking the world around us. Generationally we often learn the same teachings our parents did that do not honor the self. We focus on the world from an outside-in perspective but rarely get acquainted with ourselves. Maybe some homes raise children to discover who they are, communities that cultivate connection and self-discovery must exist. It has been my experience that western society has taught disconnection, the disconnection of self.
I learned to function from the outside in, never understanding or connecting to the self. This path is a process where I learned to people please to survive. Never was my experience of life about what my needs might be or learning to understand healthy ways to achieve this. It was all about attention and as a child, learning the kind of attention that will get me what I need. Sadly this was determined by the learned behaviors of the adults surrounding me. We learn through these adults, this unconscious repeating of disconnection. If adults are not available, we learn through our peers. These beliefs become a part of who we are.
My youngest daughter cries a lot. She cried so much as an infant; I always sought to find what was wrong with her. I had never experienced an infant cry so much. I believed it was feeding, diapering, or comfort she needed, and when I gave her all of those things, and she still cried, I thought there was something wrong. I chose to try something new, to support her crying; I just observed what was happening, allowing her to teach me. I would find the answers, not only through her but within myself.
I had to ask myself many questions. First, what is wrong with crying? Crying is an emotional response, but I was taught tough, healthy people do not cry. Or that babies do not cry if their needs are met, which were the typical diapering and feeding. Or to just let a baby cry and they will eventually learn to self-sooth. Thank goodness, for my children’s sake, I am rebellious and at some point, began questioning everything. None of these teachings create healthy individuals; they actually do the opposite. Humans require attachment. However, our current behaviors create detachment.
The belief that we only cry when we are severely wounded, either physically or emotionally, was seared into my psyche. But crying is communication, it is my daughter’s way of expressing her discomfort and there is nothing “wrong” with her. Ella is in touch with her emotions; she has not learned to stuff anything down or disconnect.
I recently had a conversation with my oldest son; he said people are too motivated by emotion. Tevin suggested they allow motivation to distract them. But I think we misunderstand our emotions; we have not been taught the language of our emotions. Most of us have been shown to disregard them and shove them down. We have been taught our emotions are irrational and deceitful. However, emotions are our messengers. When we are open to understanding ourselves and connecting, we connect and honor them. We know they are telling us something and we learn to pay close attention. Instead, the consensus teaches to either react or stuff the emotion down.
Children are our greatest teachers. My daughter Ella honors her emotions. When her older sister tells her she doesn’t want to play with her Ella will cry and say her sister broke her heart. She expresses she is in pain and that is beautiful. It is my job to assist Ella in exploring, understanding, and processing her emotions. However, for most parents, we only repeat what we know; we can not teach something we do not understand ourselves.
We must let go of the idea that emotion has no place in everyday life. Open to learning the language of our emotions and no longer stuff them down or pull them back. I learned through my own experiences never to invalidate what someone feels because I had it done to me for many of my most critical years. I was told my emotions were not valuable. I learned to stuff my emotions because they were inconvenient for the adults around me. Perhaps they made them uncomfortable because they touched something they also were taught to ignore. When I felt my emotions releasing and spilling out of me, I reeled them back in and locked them up tightly. Never once listening to the messages they where conveying. Our emotions and feelings are the most significant indicators and communication from within.
If we begin to take the time to understand the language of our emotions, working to understand what they are saying, we will step into our aligned state of being. This state is connected, it is natural. As humans, we must begin to understand and reconnect. Connection and understanding of the self is the first step, once we take this step, the reflection of the world around ripples out integrity. Learning and honoring the connection to self allows for generational change accepting all of our pieces and parts. By learning the language of our emotions, we discover the lost language of connection. So ask yourself the next time emotions rise, what is being communicated and choose to listen and understand. You will be amazed by the outcome when you live connected.