If we are not dramatic at the whim and mercy of every little issue that emerges, then how do we exist? 

 This piece from elephant journal by Damien Bohler does an excellent job of portraying the goal of the journey as I’ve defined it for myself: to be ok when things are not “ok”.

“The ability to stand outside of and witness our emotions (while simultaneously feeling them fully—which is embodiment) occurs as we mature. I never stop feeling, I just become less attached to my feelings as complete reality.”

And as a trauma survivor who has chosen to get past “surviving” and onto the business of living this brief essay that I’m sharing today, I believe, gives us a view of what “grown up” might look like for those of us who did not have anyone to “model” for us what being a healthy grown up might look like. As this author points out – there is a difference between being over reactive and totally non-reactive. Both are states of being that deny our humanness and the impact of our experiences on us, our life and relationships.

So, if we do not react dramatically at the whim and mercy of every little issue, then how do we exist as humans? Are we to become emotionless beings walking around in perpetual poker face, where nothing affects us?

No, I don’t think so.

Having done a lot of emotional and relational work over the years, I don’t experience real drama in my life now. That does not mean, however, that I do not have feelings.

Emotions are information.

They are feelings that emerge within our bodies in response to the circumstances of our surroundings. This information is important because it gives us cues about how to respond appropriately to the inevitable waves in the ocean of our lives.

Instead – the goal is to learn to use feelings as information; as part of our internal GPS system that helps us to understand who we are, what we need and what we want for ourselves. Learning to live beyond the place of chronic chaos in our lives is not necessarily easy – but it is pretty simple. The most challenging part of the task is choosing to do the practice that takes us from where we are to where – and who – we want to be.

When we are living a drama-free life, what changes is how we react to our feelings.

Drama occurs when our feelings overwhelm us into volcanic eruptions of unconscious reactive behaviour. We lash out at those around us, or even ourselves, as if we could stop a landslide by yelling at it.

In drama, we think that the more commotion and noise we make, the faster the situation is going to be rectified. Drama blames and oppresses others or victimizes ourselves. These can be big, blown out, yelling matches or subtle, passive-aggressive affairs that erode and rot relationships over time.

The opposite of drama is responsibility.

It is the ability to see the bigger scope and context of a situation. When we seek to understand and resolve an issue we need information. Emotions are just one aspect of that information.

In conflict, I ask myself what is it that I am feeling: am I angry, hurt, afraid?

If I can connect to my own experience and observe it, I can share it with the other without making them at fault. No-one can actually make us have a feeling. They cannot reach inside our body-mind and squeeze some aspect of us to turn on or off some feeling.

They can, however, evoke something that already exists within us. Our proximity to another can cause evoke all kinds of feelings —it all arises inside ourselves. Our own history and upbringing determine exactly what emotions we feel in a way that is completely unique to us.

What I experience in response to the same stimulus is going to be quite different than what someone else experiences. What hurts another’s feelings might be easily shrugged off by me and vice versa.

Let’s consider the other person’s experience. What are they feeling?

We can look at our feelings and theirs and begin to observe all the effects. What happened, exactly? What is it that it causes us to feel this way? Maybe some way they acted clashes with a belief around appropriate behavior for me.

In drama, I will blame and make the other wrong for something they did.

In dharma, I will share the impact a situation had on me and also seek to discover what it is that was going on for the other. Maybe they have no idea whatsoever what is inappropriate for me–it may be totally normal for them.

Understanding who we are and that these reactive responses come from our past life experiences helps us to learn to create new responses and new life experiences.

The ability to stand outside of and witness our emotions (while simultaneously feeling them fully—which is embodiment) occurs as we mature. I never stop feeling, I just become less attached to my feelings as complete reality. My emotions are a part of a never-ending picture that is being painted moment-by-moment. I can zoom in on a feeling, admiring and reveling in the beautiful intricacy and delicate subtleties that it contains—then I can share those with another.

I’d like to encourage you to read this essay in it’s entirety here. 
It is not our fault that we grew up in homes and live in a society that has left us feeling inadequate and overwhelmed and it is completely possible to learn how to live beyond that legacy.

Always in peace and gratitude that we share this journey…

Susan

Related…

Are You Addicted to Chaos? 

Getting Uncomfortable With Chaos and Crisis 

Source: Choosing Dharma over Drama. | elephant journal

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