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What is Emotional Capacity?

Our tendency with unpleasant emotions is to push them away, distract ourselves from them, behave in ways that help us to avoid them altogether, or adopt habits of thinking or acting that will hold them at bay. Those behaviors will “work,” until they don’t.
 

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It’s likely that at some point in your life, you’ve felt as if you were drowning in a particular emotion. Be it from anxiety, frustration, desperation, sadness, or grief, it’s not unusual to experience a sense of being incapacitated, overwhelmed, or chaotic. You may believe that the emotion will last forever, that if you feel it, you won’t be able to handle it, or like you're being swept away or yanked around by it.

Our tendency with unpleasant emotions is to push them away, distract ourselves from them, behave in ways that help us to avoid them altogether, or adopt habits of thinking or acting that will hold them at bay. Those behaviors will “work,” until they don’t.

Your relationship with emotions impacts your ability to experience them.

Like a human relationship, unless there is honesty, warmth, authenticity, empathy, respect, and healthy boundaries present, conflict and discord is likely.

When our relationships with others start falling apart because we can’t be fully present for emotion, it’s an indicator of low capacity.

When the dysfunctional behaviors we’ve adopted (i.e., alcohol use/abuse, emotional overeating, porn use/abuse, substance use/abuse, binge eating, anorexia or other eating disorders, or distorted body image) begin taking a toll on our physical, spiritual, mental, energetic, or environmental health, it’s a cue to investigate our capacity.

Most of my clients when they come to me hold a belief that some emotions are “good,” and others are “bad.” This belief puts them in a bind, with little choice or perspective, limiting them from experiencing the fullness and vitality that can exist when we can welcome all emotions as energetic information. Whether pleasant or unpleasant, comfortable or uncomfortable, emotions contain intelligence for our benefit.

The question has never been about what emotions you should or shouldn’t feel, although this may have been what you were taught or what was demonstrated to you.

The question is how you can expand your capacity to experience all the emotions that show up so you can be present for the life that is here.

Emotional capacity is like your internal well—deep, crisp, nourishing, and clarifying. We build capacity with compassionate curiosity, revealing the ways in which we have been conditioned to respond to emotions, and gently carving out new and more fulfilling pathways for them to move within and through us.

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