How to Handle Being Human
This topic has been trickling through my mind for a while now. There's been various signs pointing me in its direction, encouraging my exploration. I've had consistent reminders urging me to give it my time and energy and finally get right into the niggling nitty gritty of it. But while I heard and saw and felt all the signals, I still absolutely did not want to.
Which is exactly why I'm now writing this.
The topic is that of being human - of being flawed, emotional, confused, afraid, insecure and anxious. To being a feeling, thinking thing and to honestly embrace that.
As you'd recognise if you'd read here before, I am greatly inspired by the importance of vulnerability as researched by Brené Brown. But yet, going and actually doing vulnerable things really awakens the human side of us and I've realised, as much as I see the worth in doing these things - I found it so challenging to genuinely embrace them.
Because you really feel this stuff.
Committing to vulnerability, to love, to dreams, to challenges means that we have to feel the fears, the hurt, the embarrassment or whatever authentic living ignites in us. Quite simply, we can't dive into the fire without feeling the heat.
And so we might find ourselves suffocating in swirling shame or defeat or anxiety and it feels uncomfortably awful. And that's probably why we choose not to do this so often. Even if it does turn out to be incredibly worth it each and every time.
Instead we find solace in being numb, in staying in one place, in shying away from opportunity and possibility and instead seek to be robotic in our quest for perfection and saving face. We strive to be 'strong' by hiding emotion, 'perfect' by not being who we are and 'independent' by not letting any one else in.
This is not allowing ourselves to be fully human and truly alive and on this blog, we're all about being daring in our living. So in conquering my conflict between valuing being human and also never wanting to look 'weak', I've learned a few things along the way:
Some of us just feel a lot. That's simply how we're wired - we're sensitive and we get invested. We need to become aware of how we operate and get interested in what makes us tick. Emotions will run high and maybe we cry easily or scare easily or are quick to anger. Maybe we fear disappointment or letting others down or getting too involved. Whatever it is that we begin to notice, we need to stop ignoring it and seek to understand it instead. We need to get curious about what it is that makes us human, and how we may be trying to avoid that in our actions.
We need to become aware of how we label our humanness. What do we perceive it to be? What do we strive to be? Does humanness equate weakness? Does attempting to ignore our emotions equate strength?
As we reach towards creating this image of our perfect selves equipped with flawlessness and steely strength, we can try to numb our instincts, feelings and emotions. We turn down the volume of what our true self inside is shouting about. We turn off our tears before they get the chance to run. We push people away before they get too close. Instead of listening to our gut, we shroud ourselves in 'should's, barricading ourselves with the expectations of others and numbing ourselves to our own passions, desires and dreams.
And so, in our attempts to turn down the potential backlash, we eliminate our ability to fully feel. But the fact is, none of us are here to artificially act our way through our experiences. To fully embrace being human we need to let ourselves feel and crumble and make mistakes and fall. Because this is the pathway towards feeling real genuine joy, love and success.
This is one that was pretty loud and it goes hand in hand with our 'shoulds'. When we do begin to see ourselves feeling our emotions or our uncomfortable thoughts or the stories we're telling ourselves - we can become critical. Instead of welcoming the fact that we're expressing, we judge what's coming out. This is where the tug of war comes into play because it's as if we're turning on our human side with one switch and off with another.
We need to open our minds to non-judgmental feeling. So you got a bit upset or jealous or anxious or uncomfortable? That's okay. If you feel fear or apprehension or nerves, they're all okay too. This is not about perfecting anything, this is about respecting our innate humanity and allowing it to have its own airtime.
When we begin to judge our expression, we run into a struggle. Of course we can continue to try to embrace our human experience but as long as we hold onto judgement, we won't be able to fully immerse in it. So we end up suppressing. Instead of giving our feelings their right to a voice, we push them back down into the pit of our gut. So the feelings come, but are silenced and I can promise, this feels even worse than the raw exposure of expressing them.
Suppressing does not help and it does not make us stronger, it just lets the challenges pile up and bring us down. We need to listen to what we're trying to say - regardless what we think it should feel, sound or look like. To do this means to honestly and kindly listen and contribute to the conversation of what is going on within.
5. Let Go
We become accustomed to certain beliefs about the person we need to be. We create definitions of who we are and what we need to do and how we can become strong. We believe that we need to have our sh*t together and look successful or accomplished. We think we need to be beyond hurt, unfeeling and unaffected by others. But if we continue to do this, we miss out on the incredible, unpredictable, stormy and wonderful experience of truly being alive and a part of our own lives.
Letting go means redefining strength and where our values lie. It means rewriting your story about what kind of human you want to be and why that's important.
As Elizabeth Gilbert says, we need to