“When you look at the dashboard on your vehicle and you focus upon your fuel gauge and it tells you that your tank is approaching empty…you don’t stick a ‘Happy Face’ sticker over it so that you can’t see it.”
When my mother died a number of years ago, I was scheduled to facilitate a workshop for an organizational client a few days after the funeral. The director of the organization had kindly offered to re-schedule the workshop; but, in spite of my tender feelings of loss and exhaustion, I put on my “poker face” and proceeded to deliver the workshop, as scheduled. I shoved down the grief and ignored my own needs. My energy was “off”, and I wasn’t fully present, which I’m sure the participants could sense. By not showing up for myself and giving myself what I needed, I wasn’t really showing up for them and giving them an optimal experience.
Through situations like these, I’ve noticed the effects that emotional dishonesty can have on me, my life and my business. Emotional dishonesty is suppression of emotions (including so-called “unspiritual” ones like anger), and it causes disconnection from true feelings and needs, and avoidance of difficult conversations and potential conflicts. All of these behaviours can have a detrimental impact on a business.
And, for us wellness entrepreneurs, allowing ourselves to feel emotions we label as “negative” can be especially challenging. Many of us are sensitive to emotional energy and feel emotions deeply, so we may have a more pronounced tendency to resist uncomfortable feelings. Also, our spiritual beliefs may contribute to our emotional denial (I say this from experience, too!).
The good news is we can learn how to have an integrated relationship with our emotions and ourselves. We can learn how to allow ourselves to experience the full spectrum of our feelings, without censure, guilt or shame, and how to process them. We can develop the capacity to identify, accept and express our needs in healthy ways, have more honest and fulfilling relationships with ourselves, our clients, staff and colleagues, and enjoy all the other benefits that ensue. And, we can model this for others, so they can give themselves permission to do the same.
What Causes Emotional Dishonesty?
In infancy and early childhood, we all started out being emotionally honest 100 per cent of the time. Then, for many of us, our families, cultures, schools and/or religions taught us to believe that feeling and expressing what we felt was bad and unacceptable – particularly “negative” emotions. Growing up, most of us received modelling on how NOT to feel. Today, we still live in a society that conditions us to ignore, repress, deny and lie about our feelings and to act as if we’re happy all the time.
Yet, as humans, our emotional body’s natural inclination is to cycle through fear, anger, sadness and happiness (and all related emotions), if we don’t resist the free flow of these feelings. Suppression actually cuts off the emotional body and pushes the suppressed emotions into the unconscious.
For those of us on an intentional spiritual path, these conditioned patterns of emotional repression may be furthered embedded through “spiritual bypassing”. Simultaneously, as we reach for our Divinity, we may be rejecting our humanity. According to Robert Augustus Masters, author of Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us From What Really Matters, “spiritual bypassing, the use of spiritual beliefs to avoid dealing with painful feelings, unresolved wounds and developmental needs, is so pervasive that it goes largely un-noticed.”
Some of the characteristics of spiritual bypassing he identifies include, “exaggerated detachment, emotional numbing and repression, over-emphasis on the positive, anger-phobia, debilitating judgement about one’s negative or shadow side and devaluation of the personal relative to the spiritual.”
Mariana Caplan, author of Eyes Wide Open: Cultivating Discernment on the Spiritual Path, says “We get stuck because we have not integrated the psychological wounds and traumas that live within our bodies and keep repeating themselves through unfulfilling, if not self-destructive, behaviours and dramas in our lives. We engage in spiritual bypassing, hoping against our better judgement, that our spiritual practices will remove our unpleasant emotions and help us transcend our relationship challenges.”
The Benefits of Emotional Honesty to Your Business
As we move forward with awareness, we can transform our patterns of emotional suppression and spiritual bypassing. We can examine the emotions we may be repressing from the past, notice when our habitual tendencies toward emotional repression and spiritual bypassing are arising in the present, and cultivate new habits that permit all of our emotions to be fully acknowledged and felt.
Through continuous practice, we’ll observe that when we experience the full range of our emotions and process these emotions, our businesses receive benefits including:
- increased FLOW – financial flow and emotional flow are connected; when we allow ourselves to feel our feelings, whether from the past or the present, we free up a significant amount of energy that can be channelled toward the fulfillment of our Purpose and business goals;
- more authentic, healthy and fulfilling relationships with ourselves, our clients/prospective clients and all those we interact with through our businesses;
- more creativity in our work and more potential for creative partnerships;
- increase in quality and value of our services and products; and
- more balance between work and other areas of our lives, as we sharpen our ability to recognize, express and fulfill our needs.
Emotional honesty is an act of self-acceptance and self-love and leads to increased feelings of peace, happiness and fulfillment, a heightened experience of authentic spirituality, and a more prosperous and balanced business.
In The Prosperous Healer’s Path™ Business Success Program, I hold a sacred space for clients to witness, acknowledge and process the natural “up and down” emotions that arise as they build their businesses, put their gifts out into the world and allow success. For more information, visit this page.
What are your thoughts about emotional honesty? I’d love to hear them! Feel free to leave your comments below.
© Copyright 2011 Mary C. Davis, ANAM TURAS. All rights reserved.
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