By: Kim Danon
Do you feel protected and safe? Often times this question leads us to think about our physical protection and the safety of our surroundings. What if I rephrased the question? Are your emotions protected and safe? That question may require some thought before answering or perhaps asking more questions as we consider our answer.
From the time we are young children through adulthood, we understand that our emotions play a big part in how we experience life. Though we all have access to many types of emotions, we may not use them in the same way. Emotions are used to express how we feel about the things we care about most and are a window into our hearts and minds. Our experiences can shape the way we respond to life and those responses can be an indicator of whether or not we feel protected emotionally. If we do not feel emotionally safe, we cannot fully trust others.
When I was growing up, I never saw my parents fight or heard them argue with each other. I grew up thinking if you were in love, you did not have conflict. Of course I wanted that so I began to fall “in love” with the idea of marriage and being with that person who would be in love with me. When I began dating, and it didn’t work out, my first reaction would be, “What’s wrong with me? Or What am I doing wrong?” Relationship after relationship, I could not find success in what I was indirectly taught was a simple easy thing to have. If you are loveable, that is.
I felt unworthy and incapable of love and being loved for who I was. I lost trust in myself and others.
As an adult, I heard a lady on the radio say that she was never taught how to properly express her emotions, and the result was she had many broken relationships in her life. I thought “That’s it!! I didn’t know how to properly express my emotions!” How could I? I was never shown and as a family, we never talked about it. This one statement changed my perspective.
This revelation helped me to understand that my feelings matter. That it is okay to express myself even if others don’t agree or understand. How I express myself depends on the level of trust there is in that relationship. Do I feel emotionally safe being vulnerable with this person or not? It is my responsibility to ensure that my emotions are protected. I can do that by establishing clear boundaries and avoiding situations that can cause me to lose control of my emotions and end up hurt or hurting another.
As a mom, I make sure to tell my daughter that her emotions are a gift from God and are tools to connect with people and help them feel loved. They are also a tool to express her thoughts, passions and convictions and to share her valuable opinion and wisdom. I want her to feel confident that her worth does not lie in others agreeing with her, but in the ability to see herself as a beautifully created individual. Oh the difference those words would have made to my younger self! I want to teach her how to protect her emotions and not rely on others to be sensitive to them. We all have that opportunity. The ability to trust comes only after we become emotionally protected. Many times we expect the opposite and we remain bruised and callused.