Thursday, December 13, 2012

All bluffs

I love playing poker.  I hope to get worse at it.

One of the keys of being a great poker player is the ability to hide all signs of emotion.  Being capable of acting the same way whether you are going all in on a bluff, or attempting to coax a call when you have the best hand, is the difference between a great player and someone that can only play the cards they are dealt.  The more carefully I can mask or completely hide my emotions the more successful I can be at the table.  Great for playing poker, awful for life.

Emotions do not want to be suppressed, ignored, buried, hidden, numbed, denied, judged, stuffed, avoided, smoothed-over, boxed-up, or compartmentalized.  Emotions are powerful and determined.  I believe that even if we try to get rid of them they will refuse to go away.  They scream to be acknowledged, understood, felt, and expressed. The only way past an emotion is to go through it. 

I get stuck when I am critical of my emotions. If I judge anger to be a bad emotion and then attempt to bury or ignore it I find that it festers. Often it will either grow into something more powerful like resentment, bitterness, or contempt; or it will find a way to come out sideways.  Suddenly I'm finding a reason to be critical of others or feeling sorry for myself.  I can not select which emotions I feel.  They are intertwined and rely on each other to exist.  Without pain and sorrow could I experience joy and gratitude?

I get too caught up in controlling my emotions.  Emotions are at the core of my humanity.  It is what makes me human and capable of indescribable beauty but also unspeakable evil. They can be powerful teachers.  When I get wrapped up in deciding which emotions are bad or good and what I should or shouldn't feel I mistreat my emotions.  Anger for example can teach me what is important to me and how to stand up for myself and others.  It helps me capture my voice and express myself.  It's easy to see why I might not be alone in judging emotions when all around me I see anger turning to rage.  When emotions are mismanaged it can leave a wake of devastation.

I will learn to acknowledge my feelings:  What emotions am I experiencing?

I will learn to understand them: How do they express themselves within me physically?  What was the triggering event?  What experiences from my past shape the way I think about emotions?

I will learn to feel them:  How do I try to avoid what I am feeling? In what ways do I numb, hide, deny, or stuff my feelings away?  What can I do to learn how to "lean into" my feelings instead of moving away from them?

I will learn to express them:  How should I express my emotions? Should I share my feelings with others? (I usually want to say NO when the answer is often yes.)

My feelings are central to who I am and to deny them is to deny myself.

I embrace my emotions.  I will acknowledge, understand, feel and express them. 


  1. Yes, definitely keep sharing your emotions!

    I know personally that I suppress a lot of what I'm feeling and hide from those who love me and can offer me support. It makes no sense, but that's what I've taught myself to do. There's so much effort involved in undoing such a bad habit.

    It's not my own thought, but it's a thought of another that has stayed with me since I first heard it - We feel what we feel. So true. It's okay to experience emotions, whatever they may be.

    Thanks for sharing and articulating how important it is to own our feelings and express them rather than suppress them.

    And on a side note, I'm excited with your new format! Looking forward to making this a daily stop.

    1. Ruthie, I like that quote. I think when I start to accept ownership for my feelings and allow myself to experience them they begin to flow through me. It reminds me of the difference between going with the current of a river or constantly trying to fight against it. Your comments are appreciated and I'm excited to have you here!

  2. I remember playing some bluffing card game with you during a trip to Phoenix. I was so frustrated because you figured me out and I couldn't bluff to save my life. I guess I don't feel so bad now!

    1. The ease of picking up your tells in that game is a testament to your level of emotional transparency. I have always admired that quality about you and the way it allows you to connect with people.

  3. Only had to read one of these to know that I have to share it, I will be reading the rest. I love the expanded room this gives to dive into these issues. Love this, keep it coming!

  4. Deal! As long as someone is interested in reading them I'll keep sharing.

  5. Replies
    1. I'll see your :) and raise you a ;) :D and :P

  6. You make me laugh I didn't see your reply until now lol! I'm horrible at hiding my emotions. I'll never succeed at poker. I can't hide when something is bothering me or when I feel strong emotion but I don't always know what to do with it, what it's telling me, if or how to act on it, or how to move past it.
    I don't remember who it was but I once heard someone say, "Invite your feelings in for tea." That always comes to mind when I feel emotions that make me want to distract myself & stuff them. The way I invite my feelings in for tea is to get out my journal and pen and write write write.
    Love ya Clair. Keep up the fantastic work. Your blog always gives me strength!