I am currently in emotional pain, but feel forced into silence about explaining why to anyone in fear of visceral reactions they may have on what I have to say. How can I reveal my thoughts w/out fear

Great question. Here are some initial thoughts after reflecting on your question and on the interactions you and I have had on Quora…I’m happy to dialogue further about this as well via messaging. First I would like to validate your emotional reaction — I think you are correct that many people feel this way around your age (I certainly did), and I think it is a normal, healthy response to what is arguably a pretty shitty situation. “Adulthood” seems to almost entirely equate a number of different forms of slavery, all descending upon us at once…enslavement to a job or career path, to expected patterns of consumption (house, car, debt, etc.), to a set of fixed relationships (spouse, children), and to a general sacrifice of qualities and characteristics that really make life worth living (creativity, curiosity, playfulness, etc.).

And now onto some potential mitigations and safe ways or environments to communicate how you are feeling….

1. Without hesitation, I would encourage you to hold onto your perspective as long as possible, so that you aren’t reflexively adopting “status quo” expectations about your life. Why should you? At the same time, it may be that there is a way forward into a new phase of growth without all of the downsides you have described — i.e. one that does take on more independence, responsibility and maturity without crushing the child-like qualities that you cherish, or embracing enslavement of some kind. Being open to such a possibility, while not “giving in” to the status quo, can at least allow a sliver of hope into an otherwise oppressive darkness.

2. A key element to sharing our journey with others is finding folks whose values, experiences, perspectives and goals align with our own. In Integral Lifework, I call this the “Supportive Community” dimension of well-being, and I strongly believe that finding or creating such community is an essential component of being well and whole. In my own life, I found this in many places — in spiritual communities, in joining a theatre troupe, in playing music at open mikes, in hiking and outdoor clubs, in volunteering at environmental organizations, in attending “salons” at people’s houses, in joining writing groups, in political activism and so on. I also was lucky enough to find supportive community in a job at a University for a couple of years. In nearly all of these environments, I found folks I could discuss things I cared about, and whose values and interests resonated with my own.

3. Further, I would also say that the creative efforts I engaged in were often a very helpful avenue of expressing deep and turbulent emotions to others in an “abstracted” way that opened doors into deeper conversations (i.e. attracted the right kinds of folks to engage with). This is actually part of another dimension of Integral Lifework, called “Playful Heart,” and it can be a powerful avenue of connecting with both self and others.

4. More intensive and structured support can also be very helpful — and I certainly sought that out at your age as well. A good therapist (and again one whose values intersected or resonated with my own) became an indispensable part of my own journey then, and over many years that followed. This was especially true when it came to processing strong emotions like pain, fear, anger, guilt, and anxiety.

So these are some initial considerations, with the aim of attenuating “visceral reactions” and potential judgement. At the same time, all such efforts still require courage and a certain tolerance for risk…as there are no guaranteed outcomes in the school of life. And there will certainly be folks — perhaps even the people you care most about — who won’t “get it” or understand you at all, and with whom communication will simply be impossible for a time. This happened with my father, who really couldn’t grok me, my goals and values, my experiences, or even my personality — at least not until we were both much older (in fact, it only began to happen just three years before his death). So some relationships will not fit easily into this process of personal unveiling and growth — and that is perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of “growing up.” In fact I think it reflects a principle that is much more the herald of true adulthood than anything society broadcasts or conditions us to believe: learning to let go of things we can’t control.

I hope this helps!

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