As this is my final bog post (my final hurrah) of the program, I thought I would do something a little different. For my previous posts, I have tended to elaborated on thoughts that were triggered during presentations from that day. But, today I think I would like to delve into something and explore further an issue that I have encountered throughout the whole SPP program: emotion.
Funnily enough, even though my intention was not to focus on a presentation from today, the universe didn’t agree with me. Today, during a presentation led by Kathy Goodman, we looked at the various aspects of emotional intelligence. Through many of the presentations that we have seen over the past few weeks, we have been acquiring tools to analyze others, but this session differed as it equipped us with the skills to identify elements of ourselves. Although I was aware of this fact before this exercise, I was reminded of my difficulties with expressing emotions. I often feel like a robot when trying to recount my sentiments, as I find it difficult to deliver my emotions. The strange part of this is that I am aware of emotions, hyper-aware actually, but I actually make the conscious decision not to share and express them. So, it is not that I can’t, but it is that I don’t express emotions very well. I thought that would be a great way to preface a blog post regarding the emotions that I have been dealing with lately, as it may indicate why I have felt these ways.
From presentation to site-visit, to more presentations, I have been trying to critically approach each and every issue. Such exploration can be extremely emotionally taxing. Thus, these past few weeks have felt like a prolonged session of “Emotional Jujitsu” (credit to my wonderful room-mate, Katie, for this perfect term). I have been internally trying to process all of these feelings, battling one after the other. Now that I am sitting to reflect on this exhausting internal fight, I have identified two ways in which my emotions have been set to overdrive:
On the one hand, and perhaps the most obvious, is that the discussion of unfortunate topics has tested my emotional stability. From hearing about child soldiers, to the impacts of nuclear weapons, to gang violence, and more, this program has sent my emotions across the board. Being able to unpack my critiques individually, and with others, really helped me to ensure that these emotions didn’t stay within me. It wasn’t necessarily the expression of emotions, as I wasn’t capable of being explicit regarding the way I was feeling, but rather the unfolding of my opinions which further helped me with my internal “jujitsi” fight.
On the other hand, these debates and other interactions with others have made it stressful to be around people. Interacting with someone who you don’t necessarily get along with is exhausting, and tests your patience. I, personally, am very aware of my lack of patience. Thus, these interactions have truly tested my ability to maturely engage in discussions. It is not that these people or group settings have added to my stress directly, but rather indirectly through making me feel uncomfortable. Today we did an exercise in the art of noticing “how and where” we felt something. Through that, I noticed more and more that it is far easier for me to distinctly recognize the places in which I feel negativity, but less so positivity. For example, some interactions immediately made my jaw tense, head hot, and created a pit in my stomach. I think this notion of being able to identify the physical effects of emotions is extremely important. But, moving forward, I would like to look further at improving my ability to identify positive feelings. Anyway, this hyper-awareness of physical effects gave me the starting point to overcome these emotional difficulties, as I was able to immediately identify when I was becoming agitated by someone. Through this recognition, I decided to remove myself from that moment. I am aware that this is not always possible, as in other scenarios, I may need to address the people who impact me directly. However, I am glad that this experience has made me aware of this possible approach of limited engagement.
As this program comes to an end, I appreciate that I have been able to recognize these two situations which have so greatly impacted my opinions. As I move past this program and begin to work in the field, I hope to employ these same approaches to the situations in which I have to work alongside people I may not get along with, or situations where I am dealing with difficult topics and need to debate those without the explicit discussion of emotions. I am absolutely sure I will encounter these situations in the future, and I can’t wait to see if I can win that “Emotional Jujitsu” battle too.