This is the final segment in a three-part series on Tidying Up Emotions
Taking inventory of your past emotional life can offer a fresh perspective and new choices. It could even lead an old dog to try some new tricks.
Consider your emotional timeline with the three aspects of your Self (primitive, social, and reasonable) in mind. Is there an aspect – or two – that is absent from your successes or achievements? Which of your aspects has been the source of disappointment or pain? You probably already know which ones have brought you the most satisfaction in life, but now consider which parts of yourself have been less developed or successful.
I’m a good example of this: I spent most of my younger years focused on my relationships and career (expressions of my social and reasonable aspects). After satisfying my goals in these two realms, I realized that I still carried a lot of physical tension and old resentments. Upon reflection, it became clear to me that I had not paid a lot of attention to my physical surroundings, aesthetic pleasures, or my body – in other words, I had neglected my primitive aspect. I began to focus my attention on getting into a healthier balance, developing my body, finding my anger, and nurturing my aesthetics. Now I indulge in things I used to consider frivolous (like flower arranging) and push myself to experience physical challenges (at the gym). I have gotten over some of my old judgments about physical endeavors and harmless indulgences, and learned to better manage fear of new things, sensate pleasures and a little physical pain. This has freed me to push through my insecurities about my coordination and artistic talents, and has opened up new worlds that are both pleasurable and enriching.
How can you re-balance a lopsided life?
- When considering the positive events in your timeline, which aspect(s) of yourself were you celebrating? Were your joyful moments the result of your physical (primitive), interpersonal (social) or intellectual (reasonable) accomplishments? Is this consistent with your family’s outlook or emphasis?
- Now ask yourself the same set of questions about the painful moments in your past.
- How did other people contribute to your peak experiences or painful moments? What was their role? Did the important people in your life value one aspect of your personality or talent more than others?
- If there is an aspect or two that’s been getting left out of the action in your inner life, can you think of some “fantasies” about activating these aspects? Have you always wanted to take a writing class or learned to rock climb? Join a reading group or learn to tap dance? Could someone who feels good to you help you launch into something new?
Springing forward doesn’t have to look good, or reap observable successes or rewards. It will undoubtedly bring you some measure of confidence and well-deserved satisfaction to just try something out of your usual realm. And in moments of doubt, think about the incredible steadiness of the 3-legged stool.