Hiding in Plain Sight

Hi everyone! It’s another week, another opportunity to live, breathe, love, work, tend, care, believe, achieve, record, design, enjoy, eat, hug, celebrate, bond, visit with, watch, write, and so on! It’s another week to do what we desire; not just wonder and ponder about it but do it! I’ve loved this month. I’ve spent it visiting with family, bonding with my best girls and their families, resting, learning, cooking, creating, etc. I’m so blessed that I get to live my life with these people in it and live most of my days with my two favourite humans in the whole world (yup, my husband, and my soon-to-be 18-month-old son). I’ve also spent some time volunteering to teach soft skills to a group of young adults at a skill centre and it’s been a rewarding experience. It has enabled me to achieve two of my goals for the year in one fell swoop. Talk about service being rewarding and maximizing opportunities. If you missed the last post on opportunity, please catch up here: https://growingtogetherwithci.com/2020/09/13/opportunity/. It’s too good to be missed.

Today, we talk about a little part of our lives that we often don’t discuss – particularly as we get older and more “mature” – our emotions. Our emotions are a part of our lives that we know exists, but sometimes, tend not to be in touch with, even though it significantly influences our day-to-day decisions and our lives. So, the great question is, “how did we come to be disconnected from a part of ourselves that is so vital”?

Honestly, I can’t speak for everyone but in my experience; I would say the trio of false perceptions, expectations, and fears play a huge part in the gradual separation. At some point in our lives, we are conditioned to believe that maturity means ignoring how we feel and focusing on the goal at hand. In fact, some people have been told not to bother about the “feeling” and just pummel on to achieve a goal. While this seems like sound advice, particularly when you have negative emotions raging that can deter you from achieving your goal, it could have long-term negative consequences. It could over time spiral into believing that your emotions are unnecessary and should be ignored. This is a false perception that could deteriorate into a cycle of denial. The truth is that your emotions are a gift from God – they help you stay in touch with your heart and give you a softer side that balances logic and facts.

Sometimes, your emotions could be expressed as a gut feeling, intuition, etc. It could be a sense of something you may not be able to put logical reasons to. Honestly, as a Christian, it could be God prompting you in a different direction, warning you of foreboding danger, asking you to take caution, highlighting something for you to take note of, or just to pay closer attention to a blind spot; it could be a number of things. I’m not saying to stop once you feel a certain way; but rather, to pause and ask why. Don’t just pummel on, try to decipher what you feel and give things a little more time. After all, a little introspection never hurt anybody; and doing this can save you from regret, give clarity, re-engineer motivation, and even provide insights that you may have previously missed.

Never forget, our emotions are a gift. If we didn’t need them, God wouldn’t have allowed us to have them. He would have probably written out that line of code out of our mental conditioning. It is, however, our responsibility to understand and maximize them.

Fear, being the second factor, is a powerful emotion that often tends to distort the perception of other emotions. For instance, the fear of being misunderstood, judged, labelled, and punished can significantly limit the expression of our thoughts, ideas, uniqueness, talents, feelings, etc. While there’s honestly no expellant for fear except love as the Bible says in 1 John 4:18, everyone must consciously explore their lives for traces of fear, weed it out, and then, replace with positive, healthy emotions. Fear limits you, steals your peace and hinders the authentic expression of yourself and gifts. Refuse to allow fear make you a ghost – alive but not living. I say this having lived in a time where I was mortified to fully express my desires and aspirations for the fear of being tagged ‘different’. I believe that this is a daily battle for most of us, and if you say you’ve fully eradicated every ounce of fear in your life, then kudos to you and for those of us still on the journey, keep the faith! Stay committed to living courageously and authentic in your journey and identity as none other but a child of God. Also, cultivate healthy relationships that allow for wholesome expression. Continue to live unafraid and don’t hide in plain sight. You deserve so much more.

The last and trickiest of the trio is expectation because this one can unconsciously cause you to align with societal expectations even when it’s in contradiction with your dominant emotions. At some point in our lives, we must have heard the words, “Oya arrange yourself” (for our non- Nigerian audience, that’s a hard-reset call to reorganize your disposition) or perhaps you were like me, whose reset call was the mention of my full name, “Chimamaka!”. My mum used to do that once we were arriving at a relative’s or somewhere else; this was the voice prompt to put on my cherry happy smile even if I had been sullen all day long. Over time, I learned to adapt my emotions as occasion demanded so well that I may have been an actor on a stage. Every day, I woke up, put on a new mask, and switched to different ones as each occasion demanded. After many years of practice, I found that what should have been a strength (expressed in self-awareness and self-regulation) had become a weakness, where I was no longer familiar with my off-screen face. I wasn’t even sure I could recognize myself across my numerous roles.

As I journeyed back to finding myself, these have been some helpful signposts:

  1. Irrespective of the roles I take on per time, I have clear values and stay consistent to them as they keep me grounded. My values also shape my priorities, and these barely change.
  2. I also learnt to take out time to rest and refresh through spending time with God and wholesome relationships where I can be authentic and receive unconditional love.
  3. I learnt to be in touch with my emotions. I investigate why I feel a certain way, identify the emotion (e.g. hey there anger, I see you or sadness is that you dialing up, etc.), detect the trigger/ root cause, and when it’s a negative emotion, resolve it quickly by addressing the situation in prayer, asking for the help of the Holy Spirit and talking about it.  I work to never let negative emotions fester!
  4. I learnt to communicate and connect. I would say this has been one of my biggest lessons. I realized that earlier in my life, the few times I shared how I truly felt, I didn’t give the other party time to process and room to express. It was mostly about me just spilling everything going on in my head without engaging to connect, gain their perspective and achieve shared understanding. In retrospect, I have learnt that this is probably the most important skill in our lives – as it goes beyond just talking to establishing a connection, ensuring shared understanding, and doing it in the best possible way.   

My encouragement is to allow yourself to live fully. In tune with your emotions but controlled by the Holy Spirit. Don’t hide in plain sight, live fully expressing the many-sided wonder that you were created to be!

Never forget,

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