A safe personal development workshop, run by appropriately trained facilitators can be instrumental in our emotional and personal growth. However, it is often not clear when it is appropriate to access a personal development workshop, what we can gain from a workshop and what makes a workshop safe. Getting clear about what a workshop offers and who is facilitating it, is highly valuable when considering attending one. Below are some frequently asked questions that I have been asked about workshops and my responses to these questions.
How can a workshop help me to heal from the past?
A professionally facilitated workshop can help us heal painful wounds from the past through providing safe avenues to explore issues with like-minded people who have had similar experiences. Workshops are a fantastic forum for delivering psycho-education as well as facilitating experiential healing activities. Groups are also fantastic events to meet people who could become meaningful friends, as we often share more of ourselves than we do in other public events.Ultimately, a good personal development workshop will give us the opportunity to risk opening up a little more than usual, in a safe and supportive forum, as well as teach us valuable strategies and tools.
What will I gain from feeling this stuff again in a workshop?
When we allow ourselves to feel emotional pain that is already held in our bodies, we open to the possibility of releasing painful memories and growing from them. When we keep our pain hidden from our conscious awareness, the emotions fester. They do not just go away on their own. They then manifest in other ways such as destructive behaviour, addictions or even eventually physical disease. In a safe and non-judgemental place, we can process these memories and make sense of them in ways that expand our self-awareness and benefit us in our lives. These benefits could be in our relationship with ourselves; such as building self-confidence, a sense of inner safety and acceptance; as well as in our other relationships.
In a workshop we open up around other people in a safe environment. This gives us the opportunity to experience being accepted by others while we feel the way we do. This allows us to enhance self-acceptance and increase our ability to tolerate emotional experiences. Learning to tolerate emotions and discovering that many other people experience something similar, is very powerful in creating inner peace. So, opening to our feelings in a safe workshop helps us to release past emotional pain and form more confident relationship with our self and others.
When is a workshop more beneficial than therapy?
There is a time for therapy and a time for personal development workshops. Generally speaking, if we are experiencing acute crisis and do not have safety and security, then individual counselling is more suitable. Likewise, if we will feel too anxious and uncomfortable in a group then perhaps it is perhaps not yet safe to share deeper feelings with a group of other people. Emotional safety is the key.
To actively participate in a group we need to feel comfortable enough within ourselves to open up without feeling too exposed. If we leave a group feeling exposed and unsure of ourselves, rather than welcomed, accepted, and at ease with our learning and group interactions, then something has not occurred within the group to ensure emotional safety and group integrity. This may be that we are not yet ready for a group experience or it may be that something was not adequately attended to by the facilitators. It is then essential to speak to the facilitator and for them to appropriately respond by validating our experience and getting us appropriate support through counselling or acknowledging their mistake.
What can a workshop give me that therapy can’t?
Appropriate therapy and workshops give us a safe forum to heal from the past and to experience unconditional regard in healthy relationships. However, workshops have some extra added bonuses to therapy.
Workshops also give us:
- More structured and comprehensive information about psycho-social-spiritual matters, than in therapy
- Facilitated opportunities to relate to other people in a healthy and safe environment
- The opportunity to normalize our feelings by hearing how other people have had similar experiences
These are just three important benefits we can gain from personal development workshops. Ultimately, what is important in choosing whether to attend a workshop is ensure the facilitators are experienced, appropriately trained and that the workshop is safe for your needs and values.
Embracing our Inner-Woman
Join me for a fabulous weekend of learning new ways of relating to your emotional self that increases your self-confidence, acceptance, happiness and self-love.
Learn more about how to work with your emotions rather than be overwhelmed them in my new book.
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerability is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy – the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light”
We often think the problem is how we feel about the things that happen to us. We then try to avoid, suppress or medicate our emotional pain and we tend to miss the inner wisdom held within the emotion. We end up spending so long in our addictions and avoidance of how we feel, that we become disconnected from ourselves and unknowingly cultivate a deep pervading sense of shame. Then, when we feel an emotional reaction with any intensity we also feel the familiar shame and guilt associated with feeling bad about feeling. Finally, we lose confidence in ourselves and discontinue seeing value or worth in ourselves. This is a common cycle that most women experience to one degree or another. So how does it happen and what can we do about it?
The three stages of loss of confidence and self-value
The first stage of loss of confidence and self-value for women is when we are in some sort of relationship, either in our family, an intimate relationship, with a friendship group or at work, and we believe other people who dismiss or illegitimize how we feel. If we allow it, these overt or subtle messages corrode our belief in our normal emotional responses to the world. We begin to feel edgy, unsure of ourselves and insecure. We learn that our feelings are not trust worthy and that our perspectives are not important.
In the second stage our self-doubts grow stronger and we feel increasingly anxious. If we cannot trust our emotional responses to the world, we cannot gauge what is safe and what is not. We tend to automatically think it is our fault if someone has a go at us and we lose our sense of healthy boundaries. Fear becomes disproportional because it is like we are walking around a booby-trapped room with the lights out.
The third stage is where we fall into symptoms of depression, as we become stuck in anxiety, mis-trust, disconnection and isolation. The anxiety from feeling unsure of ourselves and ashamed of our emotional selves solidifies into depression because an extremely important aspect of our adaptive self has been systematically dismantled. Depression tells us that there is something very wrong with how we are operating in the world and perhaps in the relationships that surround us.
The solution is to clearly see the mistaken belief that there is something wrong with us when we feel emotions. It is important to find a safe healthy relationship, such as a therapeutic relationship and begin to work through what our feelings are really telling us. We need to identify the psychological patterns that lead to this mistaken belief and explore our interpersonal relationships to see what is emotionally safe and what is not.
This all may sound like a journey, and it is! However, it is a journey that holds the key to rediscovering our inner confidence and self-value. Our adaptive emotions help us establish and maintain healthy boundaries and discern what is right and wrong for us. Self-confidence IS confidence in our emotional selves. It is all about trusting ourselves that we can understand our emotions and follow their inner-wisdom to create a safe and secure life.
Embracing our Inner-Woman
Join me for a fabulous weekend of learning new ways of relating to your emotional self that increases your self-confidence, acceptance, happiness and self-love.
Learn more about how to work with your emotions rather than be overwhelmed them, in my new book.
The secret battle women have with emotions
This week I spoke to women about attending a workshop on emotions and the loudest message was that they did not feel safe to work through their emotions in a group. The lack of trust towards other women when it comes to us expressing emotions was undeniable. These women were strong. They ran businesses, managed families and some even had public profiles. They held it all together for other people in lots of different contexts, and saw themselves as in control of their lives, or at least on the surface. Yet the thought of revealing how they really felt with other women in a workshop was unpalatable. They stated they were more comfortable in psychotherapy on a one on one basis. Moreover, it was not just themselves they were talking for. They spoke about how this would be quiet normal for most women who moved in their circles.
The importance of emotional well-being
What really stood out for me from these conversations was just how ill-at-ease we are with our emotional selves and how deeply we fear sharing how we feel. Yet our emotional well-being underlies so much in our lives. Our relationship with our emotions forms the foundation of our relationships with our partners, children and friends. It forms the basis of our eating patterns and addictions. It underlies physical health problems and our ability to experience joy. Additionally, it is fundamental to femininity and our emotional wisdom.
This made me wonder… as women, how healthy are we? There is so much emphasis on physical appearance and sex and yet half the country is suffering from depression and anxiety. This says something!!! It says we do not understand or accept ourselves as emotional beings.
By being ‘emotionally sick’ what we are really talking about is being disconnected from our adaptive emotions and being stuck in painful conditioned patterns from our past. Metal illness may be a huge industry in the Western world, but really the truth is that we are caught in the grip of powerful emotional patterns without the tools, wisdom or knowledge to find our way out.
The first step to discovering freedom from emotional overwhelm is to acknowledge our authentic feelings in a safe environment and work through our patterns. It is about knowing we are perfectly acceptable for having the full spectrum of emotional states, and that owning them and safely expressing them is healthy to our body, mind and soul. It is sad that we believe there is something wrong with us when we experience intense emotions. The truth is that this is inevitable at some point in our lives. What is more, we can learn to be at ease with who we really are only if we allow ourselves to feel without being ashamed of our emotions. This needs to be done both in individual therapy as well as in safe psychotherapeutic groups for us to experience being accepted by ourselves and others.
Cultivating Emotional Wisdom
Learn more about how to work with your emotions rather than be overwhelmed them, in my new book.
When was the last time you felt really happy within yourself?
Do you feel comfortable in your own skin?
Have you wondered if you will ever discover genuine contentment?
These are just some of the questions that made me wonder, what do we women really want out of life? So, I Googled “what do Australian women want” and found links about losing weight in fad diets, finding a man and whether men from other countries like Australian woman. I was appalled! Not one link talked about what we really want in our lives.
So I thought more about what we genuinely yearn for. Then the line from PS, I Love You jumped to mind… “The truth is… we don’t really know!”
We are heavily trained to look outside of ourselves to fill the empty hole within our heart and soul. Yet, if we are to find happiness as a woman the answer lies within us. It is about feeling good about ourselves on the inside and being self-assured. A woman’s genuine self-value shines from within and speaks loudly to anyone around us. It naturally radiates! Self-value and contentment follows from loving and accepting ourselves as we are. This sounds simple and yet like the Holy Grail, it remains elusive to most of us. What we do not realise is that love and acceptance is innately within us, and our disconnection results from conditioned beliefs and unconscious emotional patterns.
The real cause of loneliness, low self-esteem and anxiety is the clouds that block the brilliant sun, which is our authentic core-self. We are disconnected from ourselves and as a result, we are in emotional distress most of the time. The real solution to this problem is not more shopping trips or yet another phone call to our girlfriend, only to feel empty all over again as soon as we put down the phone. Nor is the solution finding the next intimate relationship or fling to temporarily quench our thirst. The real solution is to open our awareness to our blocks, dissolve them and then re-balance our authentic emotional selves and inner-connection. Genuine connection in relationships is important however, it only ever follows from self-healing and inner-connection. It can never be the other way around.
The process of inner-connection and re-balancing our emotions is all about creating a new relationship with ourselves. It is where we learn to distinguish between emotional patterns and those emotions that are adaptive to current circumstances. The more we understand and work with the powerful energies of our emotions, the more we understand ourselves. Only then can we make choices that serve our truth and create the life we know we are meant live.
Join Janet McGeever, Emma Creed and myself for a fabulous weekend of learning new ways of relating to your emotional self that increases your self-confidence, acceptance, happiness and self-love.
Learn more about how to work with your emotions rather than be overwhelmed them in my new book…
A woman’s journey of self-value
The Western world generally views emotions with negative connotations. As women, we have lost connection with our emotions that possess inner wisdom. Emotions can safely guide us through our lives when we learn how to hear them. The key to emotional wisdom is simply knowing how to listen to them. However, because we tell ourselves that unpleasant emotions are bad, we often try to supress or even medicate them rather than listen to their wisdom. Without realising it, we are not only blocking our emotional system, but also we are losing the opportunity to learn from our emotions.
Allowing ourselves to feel our emotions helps us to work out personal boundaries, likes and dislikes, values, and direction. When we suppress our emotions we lose valuable information that tells us about ourselves and the world. An example of this is when Mary felt increasingly anxious without knowing why.
Mary was afraid of trying anything new. When faced with unfamiliar situations, her heart raced and every now and then she noticed she held her breath. Her stomach was often in knots and she worried about little things constantly. Mary had been in a relationship for ten years with her husband Fred, who often put her down. While her self-esteem was stifled, she did not realise the full impact of Fred’s put downs. Instead she figured she was an anxious person and decided to go onto anti-depressants. She was using to being put down, as her father and brothers had done the same thing when she was growing up. Her mother was also unsure of herself, and often tried to reassure Mary that things would all work out if she was simply nice to other people. Mary could not figure it out, she was nice to other people but still she felt horrible about herself.
When Mary saw her doctor, he agreed that antidepressants would decease her symptoms of anxiety and hep her to better cope in life. However, in the end it reconfirmed to Fred that Mary was the one with the emotional problems, and Mary became even more disconnected from her feelings and inner truth.
It was not until one day when Mary felt deeply disillusioned and depressed, that she finally decided to push through her fears and try something different. She enrolled in higher education where she started studying languages, a field she had always been interested in but never thought she would be good at. Fred continued to dismiss and put Mary down for her attempts at doing something she wanted to, but she was too resentful and disillusioned to listen to Fred anymore. Her self-blame eased as she made new friends and began to adapt a different perspective on her life and herself. Slowly she began to realise that the problem was not her emotions but rather the put downs, both her own self-blame and Fred’s put downs. She started to consciously challenge the self-defeating thoughts with the help of her friends and counselling, until one she confronted Fred.
This was completely new to both Mary and Fred. Neither one of them were accustomed to Mary standing up for herself. Unfortunately Fred simply became self-righteous and angry towards Mary which began to seal the fate of their relationship. Over time, the friction between them grew. No longer was Mary going to remain in a shutdown, depressed and anxious state, but Fred could not understand the changes in his wife.
Eventually Mary left the relationship and continued to build her self-confidence, studying languages and eventually traveling overseas. On her journey, she realised she had no need for antidepressants anymore. While she still sometimes felt anxious and scared, she learnt to distinguish between helpful fear and anxiety that held her back from growing. Eventually she met a new partner who was completely different from the men she knew in her past. Brad was far more respectful towards her and encouraged her to learn and travel.
The moral of the story
This story reflects a common experience where the wisdom behind the emotion is lost. Rather than listening to her fear and working through why she was feeling that way, Mary created a simple explanation that there was something wrong with her for feeling anxious. Unfortunately, by believing that she was the problem and further supressing her emotion, she temporarily lost the opportunity to learn self-value, interpersonal boundaries, and possibly help create a healthier relationship with either Fred or another more respectful man. Eventually she turned this pattern around and learnt to honour her feelings, however she spent over a decade of her adulthood feeling rotten about herself. So the moral of the story is to learn how to listen to the wisdom within our emotion rather than suppress or medicate it.
“Don’t Tell Me To Get Over It”
A women’s guide to navigating through emotional overwhelm
Learn how to recognise widespread emotional patterns, and how to heal them. ‘Don’t Tell Me To Get Over It’ is a self-help book that explores abandonment, people pleasing, generational grief, self-righteousness and shame. Through five women’s personal journeys, we investigate how past childhood wounds continued to impact on their lives, resulting in the formation of psychological patterns. Step by step, this book outlines how to identify the patterns, work through the emotions within the patterns and heal them. The psychological processes endorsed in this book embrace honouring our emotion and learning from our inner wisdom.
Boundary Confusion in Relationship Work
Inspired by my experiences at Cynthia Connop and Ernst Dams’ Living Love Workshop at the Joining Gathering 2012
My partner Paul and I attended a retreat called The Joining where we spent a beautiful couple of days learning about, celebrating and rejoicing the dance between the feminine and masculine energies. We shared special experiences of opening further into our gender potentials with another 100 amazing men and women with the same passion for connection, community and conscious cultivation of the masculine and feminine. It was here that Paul and I met Cynthia and Ernest who facilitated a couple of workshops that focused on David Deida’s work that embraces raising the masculine and feminine sexual essences.
The Basis of the David Deida Work
The whole aim of this work is to cultivate the masculine and feminine sexual essence that can become lost in our contemporary couple relationships. Deida points out in his work that there are three stages of evolution for the masculine and feminine. In the first stage, the masculine and feminine are sexually polarised but they are embroiled in control and power issues. The second stage evolves from the power struggles but unfortunately can all too easily become sexually unpolarised. Our relationships then become more like good friends than intimate lovers. In the third stage of David Deida’s work is where we aim to re-polarise our sexual essence in respectful, safe intimate relationships.
The aspirations of this work are profound! In a time of significant changes in couple relationships over the last few generations and when there are very high rates of relationship separation, this kind of work is greatly needed. Our intimate relationship could provide the glue for meaningful connection and increase resilience in a stressful, disconnected world.
My Group Experience & My Confusion
In the group, it was wonderful to have the time, focus and support of other beautiful women to re-embrace my feminine essence through dance, body movement, expression of feelings, and supporting other women into their feminine essence. However, my confusion arose when I discovered that I was not cultivating my feminine essence for my partner and he was not cultivating his masculine essence for me, but rather we were to freely give our sexual essence to any man or woman in the group.
After a challenging group experience, emotional discussions with Paul and then further discussions between Paul, Cynthia, Ernst and myself, I still swing between two camps of thought and feelings on the issue. Does it honour our relationship to do this work largely exclusively with my partner or is it acceptable to do this work with any man (for me) or woman (for my partner). While I can see the enormous value of learning how to cultivate our sexual essence in our intimate relationship, I question how we can honour the sacredness, specialness and boundaries of the relationships while we do this work.
On one hand, I can see how the exercises with other people were triggering past betrayals from past relationships that still need healing. Yet on the other hand, I question how much of what I was feeling was a normal adaptive emotional response to the actual experiences in the group that required me to hear them and act on them. I question, what is right for Paul and I in our own unique relationship and more generally, how are we to really honour our intimate relationships and cultivate them while learning the David Deida work?
I would greatly value anyone’s input who is familiar with David Deida work with sexual polarity…
I have seen many people emotionally detach in relationships under the “disguise” of practicing non-attachment. However, there is a big difference between shutting down from another person and practicing non-attachment. Personally my life has been one of flipping between destructive co-dependent relationship and detachment. “Compassionate detachment” (or perhaps non-attachment) may have been a better road to tread. However, my awareness of what these types of connections are in practice has been an on-going experiential journey of progressive understanding.
Detachment, Emotional Shut Down & Estrangement
My life journey started with harsh lessons in emotional estrangement and detachment. Both my mother and father were seriously emotionally damaged however, as a child I did not know that! I was conditioned to believe that I was over-emotional because I emotionally reacted to my parent’s physical abuse and the absence of emotional connection with both me and each other. It seemed that the world was incredibly cold, harsh and merciless from a very early age. My father arrived home from the Vietnam War when I was 6 months old. That was the first time he met me. He did not admit to having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) however, I now know that he did. A symptom of PTSD is “emotional estrangement”, which is the shutting down from loving or connecting emotions. All my memories of my father were of this incredibly shut down, depressed, negative, angry man.
My mother on the other hand, made it clear that she had no desire to have children and seemed to take it out on me throughout my childhood. So detachment had to be cultivated in me to survive my childhood. I learnt to hide myself and to shut down my intense emotions because it only made things worse. In order to cope, I found my own way to shut down from the world around me!!! I learnt the fine art of dissociation and daydreaming!
I do not even think I was aware of shutting down emotionally as an adult in intimate relationship until relatively recently. I have been on the receiving end of punishing behaviour from men in relationships without knowing why. I now see they were reacting to their own perceptions and pain patterns that were triggered by my withdrawal. My shut down however, was an unconscious coping mechanism I learnt in my childhood to survive from my parent’s emotional disconnection. When these men either became volatile, destructive or abandoning, then my abandonment and fear patterns were re-ignited. I concluded that people simply hated me and were going to go out of their way to hurt me no matter what I did. I now see that they WERE reacting to something… my emotional detachment!!!
In psychology we have coined the term “healthy attachment bond” which means an early childhood relationship with significant others that consists of love, trust, supported autonomy, and stability. These are the building blocks of healthy intimate relationships later in life. There are some schools of thought that suggest we can create an inner sense of love and security later in life even if we do not have these early relationships with our parents. Being of the camp of people that believes in the possibility of deep inner change and healing, I advocate that we can re-create a healthy attachment bond in adulthood. It needs to be in intimate relationship (outside of the early parent/child relationship) that these attachment bonds can be formed. A friendship can provide these to some degree, and friendships can be deep and enduring. However often they lack the everyday intimacy and affectionate connection that may be needed in developing a safe and secure attachment bond. An intimate relationship needs to be supportive, loving and stable to cultivate a sense of inner belonging and permanency within the couple relationship. Through this connection, each individual can cultivate a sense of stability and love within themselves individually.
The biggest difference between developing inner safety and security as a young child in a healthy parental relationship and two people developing it in an adult intimate relationship, is that the adults require conscious awareness and good communication skills to be able to pull it off. As a child we are totally reliant on the healthiness of our parent. As an adult we need to constantly practice self-awareness of our already damaged emotional patterns and then communicate them with each other before a safe and secure attachment bond can form.
The Practice of Non-Attachment in Intimate Relationship
The practice of non-attachment in intimate relationship is yet another step forward beyond the safe and secure attachment bond. It is not possible to practice non-attachment until healthy attachments are formed, otherwise they are really only different manifestations of unhealthy detachment. The practice of non-attachment is being able to detach from our own and the people’s patterns while simultaneously being able to connect and love ourselves and others beyond the patterns.
Non-attachment is non-reactive. It is being able to remain present and calm while allowing others to do what they do. Of course it does not mean stay around aggression or violence. Rather it is about “right action” that values self and other, without becoming caught in blame, criticism, reactivity, rescuer/victim patterns, detachment or enmeshment. Non-attachment is being able to remain in a space of compassion and respond to events rather than react. By default, this involves a sense of inner-security, self-love and stability to be able to remain emotionally centred and not become caught in the hurricane of interpersonal relationship dynamics and intrapersonal patterns.
What does attachment mean to you in you relationship?
Conscious relationship means different things to different people. Some people think it refers to open sexual relationships, while other people think it is about spiritual awakening in relationship. Yet others may see it as understanding inner demons, rather than taking them out on our partner. For me, however the essence of conscious relationship is all about self-responsibility and choice!
Making Real Choices
How many times have you found yourself reacting to your partner’s words or actions, only to later wonder why you reacted in the way you did? How often have you found yourself on the receiving end of your partner’s judgements or projections and wondered “where did that come from”? Conscious relationship is a practice of mindfully bringing awareness into our own thoughts, feelings and actions when caught in relationship dynamics. Only through this type of process can we see our own projections that we put on our partner and make a choice… “Do I believe this projection and react out of my unconscious patterns or do I chose to “turn the magnifying glass around” from my partner to myself” (as Susan Jeffers would say!).
Conscious Relationship & Self-Responsibility
Self-responsibility is simply the ABILITY to RESPOND! If we are driven by unconscious patterns, then we tend to REACT. These reactions may involve lashing out verbally or even physically, or they may involve withdrawing into ourselves and becoming evasive or avoidant. The way we can tell if it is a reaction, rather than a response, is if the emotion seems to possess us and take on a life of its own. The other way we can tell that it is a reaction is if it becomes a repetitive way of acting towards our partner. Patterns are automatic habits of thoughts, feelings and action. They are often instant and tend to lack conscious thought or awareness, as well as lacking understanding for self and other and compassion.
There are no choices without conscious awareness… not real choices anyway. We may believe we are making choices when we are really driven by unconscious patterns however, this is an illusion. After all, how can we make choices in how we are acting towards our partner if a) we do not understand them or where they are coming from, and b) we do not even see or understand our own patterns? The answer is simply that we cannot!
The Challenge of Conscious Relationship
This process of self-responsibility and choice sounds simple and it is in principle. However, in practice it can be challenging. Blaming and projecting our realties onto our partner is very common and can be powerfully convincing. So many people in couple relationships do not simply connect on an intimate level where they allow themselves to see their partner as simply human. A lot of people do not stop and simply listen (and I mean REALLY listen) to their partners. Many miss the person and their inner struggle within their partner because all they can see is their own inner child struggling with mum or dad, or another significant childhood role-model. The beliefs themselves, and our emotional attachments those perceptions and beliefs, are strong. Most of the time we do not know our perceived reality in intimate relationship IS ACTUALLY a projection!!!
An example of patterns and projections harming an intimate relationship is the pattern of rejection. For example, we may genuinely think that our partner is rejecting us and feel crushed and betrayed. Yet the partner’s reality may be that they are overwhelmed at work or that their partner is not listening to them and therefore not available to them anyway. Ironically, the person feeling rejected may desperately want connection, however they do not know how to connect with their partner, often due to communication differences. So this pattern leaves both people isolated, hurt and confused. Neither one wanted this. Nor are either to blame. Either one could pick up the sword of clarity and self-responsibility and look at their 50% of the relationship dance to help resolve the misunderstanding. It is even more powerful if BOTH choose to work through their respective 50% of the relationship dynamic and fully resolve the conflict.
This is just one of many challenging patterns and projections that can happen in intimate relationships. The core essential point is that taking self-responsibility and making conscious choices to co-create an intimate relationship, where both people grow into better people and better partners, is a desirable goal.
What ways do you consciously choose to take self-responsibility in your intimate relationship?
If a woman is more feminine than masculine in her essence, then she is likely to be “emotionally based” in her self and world perspective. Being “emotionally based” means that the origin of her thought stems from emotional wisdom rather than rational or logical thought. Her understanding of the world is relationship orientated rather than physically orientated. Her understanding is first felt with the emotion held within her body, rather than the thought in her head.
Women and Emotion
David Deida described the process of emotionally based wisdom in his book “The Way of the Superior Man”. He discussed an analogy where a man asked another man to a movie and the other man responded, “It depends on the movie”! If he liked the move then he would say “yes”, if he did not like the movie then he would say “no”. Nice and simple! Now if a man asked a woman to a movie she would “yes” or “no” depending on how she felt about the connection between them. If she felt loving and close then she would say “yes”, but if she felt annoyed or distant then she would say “no”. So her decision would be based on the landscape of the emotional connection that she felt with the man. The movie itself is largely irrelevant! In counselling when I have described this process behind masculine and feminine decision making, women often laugh (a little embarrassed to have their operating system described out loud) and the men look at me like I have just turned green! “You’re joking”! They have exclaimed, probably trying to figure out how they can work out anything is her alien mind!
The truth is that feminine based thinking is quite different from masculine based thinking. Also, In our Western world emotionally based wisdom is often not understood, no matter about honoured or respected. I believe the feminine harbours a deep wound about the lack of understanding and honouring of emotional based thinking, which then becomes projected at the masculine. While men have been targeted for their lack of understanding of emotional based thinking, in my experience it is women who do not understand themselves that creates the initial problem. Women are often in the dark about her own emotions which leads to us mis-understanding herself. Much of her anger at men may be mis-placed, especially if the man wants to be respectful of the woman and genuinely does not understand her.
Women Understanding Emotion
In my work as both a woman and a psychologist, I have witnessed and related to women’s struggle with their own emotions. Women are often confused, in a great deal of emotional distress and unable to understand or express themselves. The more no-one can understand her emotional landscape, the more she becomes “Kali, the destroyer”. Without validating the emotion and understanding the real wisdom behind her feeling-space, asking her to “self-sooth” her own emotion often lands like a lead balloon. Rational explanation or logic simply do not and will never suffice to temper her emotional distress or anger.
This is why women often seek emotional comfort from other women. If you watch two women having coffee, one will talk about how they feel about a whole lot of experiences and the other will listen and validate. When she is finished (if the relationship is balanced) the other one will express how they feel about their experiences and the first one will validate her emotions. Without this process being conscious, they are giving and receiving emotional validation through direct verbal communication. If you watch two men (with a masculine essence), if they are talking they are likely to be talking on a rational basis, or not talking at all.
Even though women are thinking and communicating on an emotional basis much of the time, they often cannot express what they are doing, and are at a loss to describe it to men (or other women with a masculine essence). I hear some men say “women just like to talk… about nothing”, however women actually are talking about something! They are often talking about the ever changing emotional landscape within themselves, relationship and the world! This is the other problem… that women’s rational thinking created in their minds is often in contrast to emotional wisdom. So within women, there is often a battle between rational (socially defined) thinking and emotional body-felt wisdom. It is not that emotions are less confusing to men, it is just that women’s connection with emotion is very strong and they can find it very difficult if not impossible to compartmentalise it.
It is up to Women to understand themselves and respectfully communicate the process feeling-orientated-thinking to men. It will only be through women’s self-understanding and respectful description of emotional processes that will lead to men taking respectful notice of women’s perspectives. Emotional outbursts, cold shoulders, criticism and anger generally do nothing to women’s cause of being understood by the masculine. Women need to learn to surf the emotion, as compartmentalizing it does not seem to work for the feminine. Women cannot turn their backs on feminine wisdom, rather they need to learn from her, by learning how to work with emotion rather than dump it on others (or themselves, which only leads to excessive guilt).
So as women we need to understand ourselves and realise that men (when in their masculine) are doing something that is very different, although equally valid. Working with women to help them understand and work with their emotions is the corner stone to helping both men and women honour the emotional perspective and feminine wisdom.
Questions for Women ….
As a woman how well do you know your emotional self?
Interested in learning how to work with your emotions and honour the feminine?
“Surfing the Waves of Emotion” for Women is being held on the 7th July 2012, bookings are essential!
Rebuilding trust after either one or two people in an intimate relationship has betrayed the other is a challenging processing. It can be the trust is broken be repetitive small things such as not turning up on time to an arranged meeting. Or it may be big things such as an affair. The broken trust may result from lack of understanding another’s perception. For example, one party may not have known that forgetting to buy fish on Fridays is sacrilege. Or it may be that there was deliberate deceit, often mixed with avoidance, denial and maybe even harboured resentment.
To re-build trust in a couple relationship the key is to communicate and if both parties want to repair the relationship, then they need to embark on a healing process. If it was a legitimate mis-understanding then there needs to be exploration of values, significant meanings of events, and family of origin norms and patterns. It is very normal to not understand your partner’s nuances because they grew up in a different family with different rules. So now is he time for exploration and open communication between the couple which can enrich and deepen the connection, if both people are in the space of compassion and an open mind.
If the betrayal was deliberate, then rebuilding trust can be more difficult, especially if the betrayal was big, such as an affair. This healing process involves the person who broke the trust becoming very open, transparent in their thoughts, feelings and actions, and incredibly patient while their partner recovers. It is very normal for the person who has been betrayed to need to ask a million questions, go through intense anger and hopelessness, and wonder if it is worth continuing the relationship. The person who betrayed the other needs to earn their trust back, through openness and displays of commitment. It is hard work! However eventually, it can be rewarding as it can bring skeletons out of the closet and motivate both parties to look at what has been denied or avoided in the relationship. Ironically, it can even bring people closer, but only if they enter this process. If it is glossed over or the person betrayed has not been able to re-build the trust in their partner, then it can be excruciatingly painful or the relationship can disintegrate.
Trust is an incredibly important ingredient in healthy intimate relationships and needs to be nurtured and cultivated if the relationship is to thrive. Ultimately, the key is to cultivate openness, respect, good will and communication from the beginning of the relationship and seek professional help at any point in the relationship if needed. This maximizes trust and minimizes misunderstandings or even deceit. If both parties hold positive, loving attitudes to each other, open communication can occur and trust can build.