Honeymoon - The Purse
Emotions matter. They matter a lot. In fact, emotions power our lives.
An experience that happened to me years ago, on my honeymoon, in fact, illustrates this point very well.
The day after we were married, Don and I were walking somewhere (although I do not recall where we were going now). I was so very happy. We were holding hands, and I was thinking about how lucky I was to have been able to marry him. My purse was over my shoulder, and I remember actually feeling the little “bounce” as it hit my side. I remember thinking that I was bouncing along with joy.
That all changed two seconds later. Don said to me, “Will you put this in your purse?” and held out a very small object. To this day I do not remember exactly what it was. but it was tiny.
“No!” I literally yelled. “I am not going to carry around all your junk. You can carry it yourself!”
I not only yelled that, but I dropped his hand, turned, and left. I walked back the way we came, very fast, and was very, very, very angry.
My husband, of course, had no clue about what had just happened. (I had no clue either, but that’s beside the point.) He turned around and followed me, saying, “Janet, what is wrong?”
It took awhile before I was willing to slow down and even look at him civilly. Finally, though, I had worked off enough energy, and realized -- “Hey -- what is wrong with me?” I looked down at the object in my hand (it may have even been a pencil!) and realized that this was a tiny bit ridiculous. At that moment, I burst into tears.
The problem is not the real problem - Emotions are the issue
Now something else was happening. This was happening in my mind, and, even though I knew that my thoughts were not logical, that didn’t matter. Don was going to want a divorce. He wasn’t going to want to be married to me. Why would he want to marry someone who would react this way to something so stupid? It was all over. I knew it. I had failed, after less than 24 hours of marriage.
Well, we don’t need to go through the rest of the situation - but we have been married now for 35 years, so you can tell it all worked out.
What happened was critical, though, to our relationship. I learned some very important things about Don, and what I learned about him gave me a secure foundation for our marriage. I learned that Don will try to understand me, even if I am not logical, don’t make sense, and don’t have anything rational to say. I learned that he is more committed to the relationship than he is to the idea that he has to be ‘right.’ I learned that he really will listen to me. I learned that I can trust him not to laugh (at least, not unless I am laughing with him). I learned that I will always get a chance to explain, and when I don’t have a good explanation, it will still be okay. Hooray!
He has learned some things about me, too. He has learned that his main job is to help me understand my emotions. In this case, as we talked, he helped me realize that marriage was new to me, and I was worried about the “responsibility” of being married. I wasn’t sure that I knew how to be married -- and I wasn’t sure that I could be “me” as well as be “one” with someone else. So when he asked me to put something in my purse, I emotionally reacted, thinking that I was going to forever after have to do what someone else wanted, even if the “load” was too heavy for me.
How “stupid” is that? But how real those emotions were! Our emotions do not have to be logical! (That is probably very important to know.) But our emotions DO lead us to greater understanding of ourselves, and when we understand them, they DO lead us to peace.
When I understood my emotions, I knew what the problem was. I could see my worry - my fears. I could also realize that I needed God’s help. I wasn’t going to be perfect in this marriage (I hadn’t lasted even a full 24 hours!). I would need God’s help just to understand myself! I would need His help to be able to work with Don as a unit and a team. This was a real testimony-builder to me, actually. I knew that if we both were humble, and turned to God, we would be able to figure things out and work together.
In this “purse” situation, putting an item into my purse was not the problem. It was the physical reality -- but it was not the “real” problem. Can you see that?
Address the emotions first.
In any situation, the first step to finding peace is to make sure that you address the “emotions” first. It matters. Do not even think about addressing the “situation” first. If Don had focused on the “situation,” we would have missed a great opportunity to come closer together and trust each other. If he had told me that I was being ridiculous, and the argument would have happened over “the purse”, I don’t know if we WOULD be married today. It wasn’t about the purse and the object. They didn’t matter - as evidenced by the fact that today, I can’t remember what that object was -- and today, Don can’t even remember the situation!
Peace comes from God.
Peace comes from God. It comes as we understand ourselves, and our emotions. It is independent of any situation. .
………And it can come regardless of what is happening.
The interesting thing is that we receive that peace in the midst of whatever circumstance we are in. We do not need to be “out of the problem” to feel that peace. With that peace, answers to what to do about the “problem” become very clear. We then are enabled to have strength to act with that clarity to solve our problems. That is another huge blessing, for by solving our problems, we can experience joy and satisfaction and develop inner confidence as well.
Our emotions are closely linked to character development.
Or maybe it’s the other way around: character development is closely linked to emotions.
The more we come to understand our emotions, the easier it will be to see how important character traits like virtue, honesty, integrity, and responsibility matter.
There is a wonderful article in the Deseret News newspaper, published on Sunday, March 4, 2018, by Boyd G. Matheson. It’s entitled: Reverence: A vital virtue, or a solution?
One of the tragic realizations in the recent school shooting incident is that the shooter did not know how to understand or resolve his emotions. The shooting was really a response or result of the turmoil and feelings that person felt “inside”. He was not able to draw on the values of character, integrity, and responsibility as a result.
So as we think of solutions and what our response should be, let’s consider how to help our children understand the value of developing character. We must begin by teaching those values in our homes, as parents, and then extend that to community organizations also. All of us can commit to re-focusing on the importance of developing inner character and strength.
We can use “the gardening principles” to help our children understand many abstract concepts. I often refer to specific aspects of gardening as I talk to my children (or they talk to me) about important life questions or dilemmas.
There are so many ways to use the Gardening Principles with children, as you help them interpret and make sense of life’s experiences. Children need parents who can help them see meaning in their experiences, and who can help them learn how to learn that it isn’t always about what we want “in the moment” (another gardening lesson).
Read more blog posts here.
I have taught leadership classes to youth for years. One of the games we play at the beginning of a new course helps us get acquainted with each other. Everyone stands in a circle. I have a ball of yarn, and I take the end of that yarn and hold it. I tell one thing about myself. Then I toss the ball of yarn to someone else in the circle. They in turn hold on the strand of yarn, tell the group something about themselves, and toss the ball to another person in the circle.
Soon we are all holding yarn, and connecting with everyone else by sharing who we are. It’s a fun way to learn about everyone else. The point to the activity is this: Connections matter. We can unite as class members to have a great year. That’s a leadership lesson.
However, there’s another leadership lesson we can learn from this game. When we leave the game, will everyone still need to hold on to their piece of yarn? No, that wouldn’t make sense. We can feel unified, but we don’t need to keep the yarn.
Don’t we want to remember the lessons of connection?
Yes, of course.
But we also have to be individuals.
What will happen to all that yarn if we drop it? Well, technically we could just throw the yarn away. However, that would be rather wasteful. So we take that yarn, and we begin to re-roll it into the original ball of yarn. It takes awhile, and we may have to stop and figure out how to untangle some of it, but eventually we get it all back into that ball.
Then we take the ball of yarn, and we can store it until we need yarn again for some other purpose.
Let’s apply this analogy of yarn to our emotions.
We have experiences in life with other people that “connect” us. One person does something. That affects another person. That person responds to that “something,” and does something else. That, in turn, has an effect. Pretty soon there are a number of “connections” made among different people, relating to whatever that particular situation is.
Each time someone takes hold of a piece of that yarn, they make a decision of some kind. They make the decision to keep that as part of their life experience -- even if they only keep it a little while. So they have to figure out what to do with the yarn. Will they sit there and hold it? Will they drop the connection? When they get the yarn, will they choose who to throw the connecting ball of yarn to -- or will they just toss it up in the air, never knowing where it will end up or who will pick it up?
Let’s suppose that I have kept a piece of that yarn, and tossed the yarn to someone else. When I need to “go to class,” or do something independently, I will still be holding that yarn. It will in some way affect me. It might take attention to keep holding the yarn. I could probably put the yarn in my pocket, but if someone else who was also holding yarn pulled, or got too far away, the yarn would pull me too, right?
I could, of course, just drop the connection.
Sometimes that is the practical thing to do. I don’t need that connection, so I can just drop it. We can relate that to some types of experiences. Sometimes we just do not need to keep the energy associated with the experience. I don’t need to continually be mad because Sally was late to work and I had to do some of her work in order to get the project started. Just drop it.
We tend to want to drop painful experiences, because they cause us pain. It doesn’t make sense to hold onto them. But sometimes those painful experiences are the hardest to drop. Why is this? We tend to hold tightly to them.
This is because we don’t understand that we can drop the yarn, but still keep the knowledge we gained from that experience.
At one point in my life, I had an experience that I found hard to drop until I understood this principle. I had been in charge of an event, and worked hard to make the event happen. However, someone felt that in my efforts to make sure things went smoothly, I was “controlling,” and that I “didn’t care about anyone’s feelings.”
I was devastated, especially because this person chose to yell out her frustration in a public place. I was so hurt that I found it very hard to continue directing the event, and did not enjoy the event at all.
Essentially, what happened was that she had thrown me a piece of yarn, and I had grabbed it, held it, internalized it, and made decisions about it. Because of those decisions, I was unable to drop the yarn. I thought about it, and realized that I had made three decisions that had significantly changed who I thought I was. Realizing that was a very “healing” experience.
I had decided that…………….(1) others would judge my intentions, and that I would never be in charge of any event again in order to protect myself from that type of judgment.
(2) I had decided that yes, she was most likely right, and that everyone else believed the same way, and that they just hadn’t told me that I was controlling. So I couldn’t trust others to be honest with me (those people hadn’t told me).
(3) That decision led to me to another: I also couldn’t trust myself and my own motivations.
Although I knew that I had worked hard to try to make sure that others would have good experiences, apparently I had failed, and so I couldn’t trust my own motivations and hard work.
Result of all those decisions: Essentially, it would stop me from volunteering to be in charge of anything else for a long time.
It was years before I could look at that with new eyes. Perhaps the woman had felt controlled. She might have really believed that was true. Could I control that? No. The reason I can’t control that is that we are not responsible for anyone else’s feelings or viewpoints. We are only responsible for our own feelings and viewpoints.
In truth and fact, her feelings may or may not have actually have had any relationship to the way I had planned and organized the event. Everyone has their own preconceptions, way of looking at things, expectations, and past experiences. Those things factor into how we perceive life. I can’t control that at all.
It was at that point that I decided to unravel that yarn. I took that experience, and decided what I wanted to keep from it. I wanted to re-solve those emotions, and decide what to keep. I wanted to keep my new idea that I could try again, and that I could decide that my motivations and intents for planning that meeting had been pure. I could, therefore, decide that I was going to trust myself, and dis-connect my own self worth concept from how anyone else decided to interpret my actions. That was huge for me. I wanted to keep that decision, and get rid of my previous decisions that said I would never volunteer to be in charge of things again, or trust myself.
Then I noticed that the yarn was easy to drop. Much to my surprise, when I dropped that yarn, I found that it wasn’t connected to anyone else. It simply dropped. In fact, I could take that yarn, and roll it back up into the original ball.
The lesson? Everyone else had dropped that yarn long ago. That taught me something else. The woman who threw me that yarn was upset at the time - but it wasn’t lasting. She hadn’t kept the yarn. She was long gone. Although she had publicly yelled at me, no one else had found it important enough to “keep the yarn.”
I had been holding onto something that didn’t even need to be held on to. It was only affecting me.
Emotions link to each other - like a chain
They all originate somewhere, though
All have a beginning point
At that beginning point, we made some kind of decision
The trick is to see what that decision is - to go back to the beginning - so we can unravel the present and become whole again.
Many of my clients who come for craniosacral therapy tell me that they suffer from anxiety. It is a real problem for them. What I notice, interestingly enough, is that most of them have very tense muscles, and their body feels very, very tight.
There is a true principle: Emotions lodge in the body.