The Component of Feeling - Creating an environment that welcomes the expression of feelings
This is one of those quotes, I come across them now and again, where I am clear I don’t exactly know what the author is saying.
I was attracted to the idea of “creating a place of honour for every issue, and every experience”, because I think that it is exactly what we do when we choose to have a thinking session. Or when we set aside time for reflection, and maybe writing of those reflections, or when we come to our yoga mat, or take a seat on our meditation cushion or chair. When we say to ourselves, explicitly or otherwise, this “issue” (or topic) matters, it is part of my experience of my life, and it needs my attention, and I am choosing to give my attention to it.
Is it the turning to face the issue that “creates a different form of power”? Is it because, in creating a place of honour, we dismantle denial, face what needs facing, and in so doing we allow the “whole truth of who we are” to emerge in our navigation of the topic?
What I love about the quote is how thought-provoking I found it, and I hope you do too.
So, I thought that in my newsletter for October, I would create a place of honour for uncertainty and the feelings that emerge in the face of a prolonged experience of uncertainty.
Geeky being that I am, when it comes to the Components of a Thinking Environment, I am currently thinking of the Component of Feelings as the motherless child of the ten. It is the Component, I feel, that most needs to be taken under our wings, it needs nurturing, attention, and an expanding of our capacity to be with it.
The invitation of the component of Feelings is to welcome the expression of people’s feelings and remain relaxed in the presence of that expression.
I looked up “uncertainty” to see if I could get a sense of the commonly agreed upon relationship that we have to this experience through the language we use to describe it.
This is how we relate to uncertainty, according to the dictionary I used:
Unpredictability, unreliability, riskiness, chanciness, precariousness, unsureness, changeability, changeableness, variability, inconstancy, fitfulness, fickleness, indecision, irresolution, hesitancy, doubt and doubtfulness, wavering, vacillation, equivocation, vagueness, ambivalence, lack of conviction, disquiet, wariness, scepticism, questions, qualms, misgiving, apprehension, quandary, dilemma, niggle, suspicion.
Fun, right?! Give me some of that list, right?!
The funny thing is, life has actually always been like this. The big difference now is that we are all aware of how uncertain things are, whereas before many of us were doing an Oscar-winning performance of denial.
So, how do we feel in the face of uncertainty?
There is a plethora of views on this available at the moment. The feelings produced by a prolonged relationship to heightened uncertainty include:
Feeling stressed, unsafe, depressed, doubtful, anxious, suicidal, angry, helpless, sad, edgy, bewildered, frightened, suspicious, stuck, indecisive, confused, apprehensive, conflicted, frustrated, out of control.
To name but a few.
I don’t know how many more times I can say “now more than ever we need people to be thinking well, for themselves”, but, you know what? It’s true. Gosh! I am longing for people to think for themselves, all of us, please. To really be able to think our way through the mountains of misinformation, deception and the downright insanity of the conspiracy theorists that abounds at the moment. Now more than ever, my friends.
So I’m doing more than a shout out for our practice of the Component of Feelings, because if you look at that list above, I bet I am not going to be the only one who is going to need to stretch my capacity to remain relaxed in the presence of people expressing any or all of the above. Now more than ever it is essential that we get good at creating environments that genuinely do welcome the expression of those feelings, because those are the ones we are having, much of the time right now, and – out comes my wallet again – I’d put money on they are not getting released anything like as much as they need to be in order to restore our capacity for intelligent, creative, bold, imaginative and courageous thinking in the face of the uncertainty producing those feelings.
We need to summon our hearts and minds to this task: welcoming the expression of feelings. Can we do this? In our homes? In our teams at work? Can we slow down enough to notice the tension in the face of a colleague and actively create an opportunity for that person to genuinely answer the question “how are you?”
I’d love to know that as a result of taking the time to read this (thank you so much, I can’t tell you how much it means to me), each of us will rise to this challenge, for ourselves and for each other. I’d love to hear back from you if you have any experiences to share.
You see, the other great thing about creating an environment that genuinely welcomes the expression and release of feelings, is that not only will we be assisting people to access more intelligent thinking and decision making, but we will also be enabling them to create space for converse feelings as well: joy, love, compassion, connectedness, kindness, caring, support.