This weekend I re-read Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. The book is a wonderful account of a young man who reconnects with his favorite professor as his mentor enters the final stages of dying from ALS.
One of the lessons Morrie shares with Mitch is about both feeling your emotions fully and then detaching from the experience–especially fear.
I’ve been noticing what happens for me. Whether the emotion is fear, anxiety, sadness, or anger (the last three are merely different forms of fear), my brain tends to kick into gear and distract or derail me from really being present to that emotion. Its a bit like putting a stopper with a slow-drip cap on the emotion, allowing me to hold onto the fear to terrorize myself just a little longer. “I don’t have time to be afraid,” I say to myself. Or maybe some version of “I simply have to do it anyway.” And, while I move into activity, the fear lurks in the background.
This summer, I launched an initiative called Women2Women2Girls which was quite a stretch for me on the road to an important remarkable result on my plate. Every week, nearly every day of June and July, I felt on the edge of my capability or in fear of the illusive exposure I was creating for myself. “What if I fail?” “What will happen then?”
In reflection on the summer, I did practice a little of Morrie’s lesson by at least acknowledging and putting a name to my fear, breathing into it, and then moving on. But, did I really allow myself to feel it fully? You see, Morrie says that if you really feel the feeling, you can then detach from that feeling. His practice was through a body in pain and as he lost the ability to breathe. My little summer initiative seems pretty small compared to that challenge.
So, what about the detachment? Part of my model for creating remarkable results teaches you to allow the current reality, without resistance–to keenly observe and look for the right, next move. For most emotions in most of our life situations, the very act of fully experiencing the emotion allows it to dissipate. At that point, we have a choice to reflect or look at that emotion and confirm that “I am not my emotions, I simply have them.” That is detachment.
So what? How does that help me succeed? Well, I say that there is a huge power in being able to move into our complex world without the distraction of those emotions we were not willing or able to simply feel and create some detachment. Of course, you may want to use the energy of your emotion. In that case, really feeling the emotion is also the key to expressing it with power.
Finally, consider the application of Morrie’s wisdom to satisfaction, happiness, love, and joy. Do you fully feel all the joy in your life? Can you detach from those feelings as well?
Let me know what you think–and how you feel!