I was eleven years old, watching The Three Stooges, on a fall afternoon. I heard a loud insistent knock at the back door and, upon opening it, I saw my neighbor, Little Larry, all out of breath and crying. A hunter mistakenly shot his dog Lobo. Lobo was suffering and needed help.
Larry’s family didn’t own a gun and he knew that my Dad did. But I was the only one home and I had played with Lobo. I was torn and afraid and I didn’t want to do it. I just wanted to cry like Larry was, or run from the responsibility. The last thing I wanted to do was to feel my feelings.
Struggling small business owners often ask, “What’s wrong with me?” It’s really easy to fall into the trap of self-judgment when things don’t turn out as planned. It can be especially frustrating when it seems as though many others are succeeding.
But, what if there is nothing inherently wrong with you? What if you have the capacity to succeed in business but you’re not fully using your personal power?
It’s not a question of your makeup; you have what it takes to succeed. But what if you are not giving it your all? You might think you are, but if you’re holding back on feeling your feelings fully, then you’re operating at a fraction of your available personal power. Decide to hold back no more – direct all of your personal power for life and business success.
In my life coaching practice, I’ve coached many men and a few women who did everything they could to avoid feeling negative emotions. Once we do some digging, the memory of a major childhood trauma often surfaces. Some clients have avoided feeling feelings for 30 years or more. Some hurt so badly that they refuse to even discuss it.
Yet they can’t confidently express the personal power necessary to be a successful entrepreneur, while still holding back on their feelings.
My authentic business success did not fully happen, until I changed back into the championship feeler that I once was. Authenticity can be your edge for business success. But it’s impossible to be fully authentic if you aren’t feeling everything.
Back to Lobo, up until that time, I wore my emotions on my sleeve. If you hurt, me I cried. If something scared me, I cried. If I was embarrassed or ashamed about something, I cried. Back then, when the emotions arose, I felt them naturally and then felt better.
But growing up in the macho fifties, that presented a big problem. Every adult male in my life, including my Dad, told me to “quit crying, suck it up and be a man.”
This was in the country, in 1961, and people just didn’t spend money on veterinarians. Larry knew that the merciful thing to do was to end Lobo’s suffering. I agreed, but my Dad wasn’t home. Then something clicked in my eleven-year-old mind. I saw this as an opportunity to take the advice of my Dad, uncles, and male teachers. I needed to suck it up and be a man.
Suddenly I knew what I had to do. I got the shotgun and a shell out of the closet and walked down over the hill with Larry. It was hard looking at Lobo and knowing that I was ending his life. We’d played and run together many times.
But I sucked it up and I did it. And I can remember walking back up the hill to my house as clear as it was yesterday. A tearful feeling began deep in my chest, and just when it was at throat level and about to explode, I stopped it.
I swallowed my feelings and locked them up in some dark well. I sucked it up. I was a man. I didn’t shed another tear for 38 years and I hated it. I was stone-faced miserable and more afraid than when I freely cried.
If you’re a guy that’s buying that same bull, or if you know a guy (or gal) who is, please take this message to heart. You won’t really be a strong man or woman until you learn to feel all of your feelings, as they arise.
How? First understand the benefits of feeling fully. That understanding will help you to want to feel. Then you need a process that will work for you. There is none better than John Gray’s process in his book, How to Get What You Want and Want What You Have .
I’ve recommended it dozens of times in my life coaching practice and it almost always gets my clients feeling once again. It’s effective because it gives us a powerful way to first feel what’s there. Then after feeling it, we can choose something that feels better.
In Chapter 11, Gray shares this list of 12 negative emotional states.
1. “I am angry.”
2. “I am sad.”
3. “I am afraid.”
4. “I am sorry.”
5. “I am frustrated.”
6. “I am disappointed.”
7. “I am worried.”
8.“I am embarrassed.”
9.“I am jealous.”
10. “I am hurt.”
11. “I am scared.”
12. “I am ashamed.”
These states are expertly listed, in a special order such that even if you don’t immediately, correctly identify which emotion you’re feeling, the process will correct your course in mid-stream.
This process uses journaling, which is a very effective method for feeling and releasing negative emotions. I’ve personally found it to be highly effective and it’s what got me unstuck from the lingering affects of a major life wound.
Begin at the emotional state where you think you are and really feel it.
In each case, as you go down the list, you will experience a dramatic shift and release by going deeper. Write a few minutes about any one level, and then shift to the next level down. At the end of the process, it is important to write out the positive feelings that naturally emerge after we release negative emotions. John Gray
Negative feelings begin as naturally occurring vibrations; they don’t become negative until we have attached a thought to them.
Everything in our lives, we create, promote or allow. Author Unknown
Everything! Wow, do you find that quote as inspiring as I do. That means we are at choice about everything in our lives. For everything, we make it up, advance it further or permit its presence.
“Everything” includes even the feelings we feel. We can choose to allow or release our negative feelings.
We can also choose to pump up our personal power by creating positive feelings after we’ve released the negative.
We are all challenged from time to time, but true champions, learn to fully feel, process the emotions and return to rise again.
Are you operating a full personal power or are you still holding back?