I don’t know about you, but I find the source of most of my issues start and end with me.
If I have fear and chicken out, I will definitely regret it.
If I fail and kick my own butt, I will feel worse.
If I am empty whether I am alone or not, I am cut off from myself.
All three statements also show me where I am unavailable in my own life. I am cut off from the joy or pain of an experience because anything that stands in the way of my emotional experience means I’m unavailable in some capacity–even though I may feel something, like torture or fleeting joy.
The problem when I say yes to some activity or action is that everything emotionally turns off inside of me. Do you know what I mean? You promise to do something. It could be fun like going on vacation, attending an event or being with someone you love or like. BUT there’s a part of you missing. The part which holds back from the full experience.
The reasons vary, but there’s a withholding of emotional connection just in case it doesn’t work, something goes wrong and it is necessary to remain invulnerable.
Have you experienced this in your own life?
Not Being Present
Look back at times when you were present somewhere, but the memory is a blur; you were emotionally unavailable to the experience. Now bring it forward and see where you won’t allow yourself to feel your feelings during some activity, especially with other people. Where are you guarded?
It took me a long time to see all the ways I could numb out or duck and hide from an experience, and for the most part it was from a lack of clarity. Making commitments I didn’t want to make, but feeling compelled to do it because of some expectation.
Commitments run the gamut in life. Even if we state a commitment, how much of us emotionally actually shows up?
Are you 100% together when you show up for your job, or is it just a part of you, similar to a robot, devoid of emotions? We often do this when we don’t want to make a decision to change something in our life. We emotionally check out!
We intellectualize all the different parts of our lives, including our relationships with other people. We only allow a part of ourselves to show up, keeping some aspect held back. And then we wonder how we draw other emotionally unavailable people to our lives! How is it we don’t see ourselves in that light? Well, for most of us, we think we are fine. Our self-perception is that we have love to offer, but in reality, we have as much junk in the way as the next person.
Being emotionally unavailable means we cannot experience fulfillment, not only through our relationships, but anywhere.
I knew a guy who was performing in triathlons. It gave him the opportunity to check out emotionally from his life and just focus on training. After each race he would do okay–not winning, but not at the bottom of the cellar. He felt empty, alone and not sure what to do with himself. He had given everything ‘he felt he had’ to the race, but in reality, he only gave the part that was available within him.
Had he been fully present to the experience, he would’ve proceeded to connect himself openly and readily to this endeavor, feel his feelings, which would’ve been fulfilling whether he won or lost. Instead he had just invested in avoiding other parts of his life he didn’t want to change.
Deprivation and Distraction
Think about all the times you’ve said no to something, which you’ve deeply longed for yourself. Perhaps even to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but fear took over and shut down your emotional aspiration. All the intellectual rationale kept you from being available to what you really fancied.
Or how about the fear of failure? Most of us put cushioning or something in between us and the possibility of failure. We don’t want to feel it, so we try to protect ourselves, only to find we can’t let go of that loss as times goes on.
We may keep ourselves eternally busy with crazy schedules and no time to do what we want. Or even if we have time, perhaps we’re tired or feel guilty doing something that would make us happy. We end up settling for activities that will numb us out, keep us distracted from feeling our lives.
All of these examples of emotional unavailability don’t include the true pain we feel when we let fear lead, pushing our heart into a cage, hoping someone or something will break it free. Except it doesn’t work that way.
When we don’t allow ourselves to truly feel, to truly experience, to say yes to having courage, we stay unavailable to the fruits that life has to offer.
How do we become emotionally available?
- Get honest about what you do to avoid your true feelings and start connecting to yourself.
- Look for where fear resides and what belief you have that tells you that you cannot have what you truly want. Once you understand what drives you to keep yourself cut off, you can make steps to challenge those walls.
- Say yes to what you really want. Don’t allow the excuses derived from fear to rule you. Life is just an experience, so go out and live it!
- Trust yourself, even if something is a disappointment and you feel hurt. Allowing yourself to feel your feelings and go in the direction of vulnerability will steer you clear of regrets. Even if you fail, at least you did it!
- Check into what is important to you emotionally. Find the time for it, whatever form that self-care is, it will lead you to living a more fulfilling life from the inside out.
How do you distance yourself emotionally and short-change your joy? We all have our tactics. I’d love to hear what you’re willing to share in the comments.