To be honest, I’ve never used an *actual* decoder ring.
I think they used to come in cereal boxes as toys?
I have used a metaphorical decoder ring many times in the emotional realm.
Ok, I realize that sounds WAY less fun than the cereal box ring.
However, the personal payoffs you receive from decoding your emotions is pretty massive.
Dare I say more so than solving the riddle on the back of the box?
(It might depend on the riddle.)
So… what am I actually suggesting here with “emotional decoding”?
There’s always a deeper feeling underlying what you identify on the surface and that’s worth looking into.
We get emotional because we care.
And that makes us vulnerable.
So the moment we touch on that tender part of ourselves we snap the doors shut and barricade ourselves inside, terrified that someone might have seen us in our moment of weakness.
Personally, I imagine a Lord-of-the-Rings-style massive and creaky set of castle doors secured with a giant piece of lumber.
I’ve hidden behind it many times.
Using my anger, disappointment, grief, resentment, and more as a shield to protect me from the discomfort of feeling exposed. Out there. Like a live wire just waiting to be tripped.
Feeling our emotions, even the difficult ones, IS NOT weakness.
Failing to see them as messengers IS.
>> What would happen if we cracked that door open? <<
>> If we made a conscious effort to listen to what our emotions have to say? <<
We open ourselves to criticism, judgement, and hurt.
But, surprisingly, that negativity doesn’t come from others.
It originates from within ourselves.
When we shut our emotions out, we’re saying that we care so little about our own needs that we’re fine never risking the chance to meet them.
Our emotions and our needs go hand in hand.
When we struggle with difficult emotions it’s because our needs weren’t met.
And many of us are in chronic denial that we have needs and that they deserve a place in ourselves.
It can feel easier just to clam up and hide, remaining locked in a struggle with ourselves that we often blame on others around us.
But we all know this is a lie.
The struggle is exhausting.
The blame game damages relationships, sometimes beyond repair.
It’s time to explore the alternative.
To crack open those gates.
To listen to the part of ourselves that we’ve locked out in a rush to avoid the vulnerability of knowing authentically who we are.
To decode our emotions and unmask our true selves.
We can create solid ground to move forward in our journey toward a better version of ourselves.
Here’s how I think about difficult emotions when they pop up.
If the emotion you’re feeling isn’t listed or this description doesn’t quite fit for you, no worries!
The simple answer is to get curious.
Personal insight is always better than a blog post!
Start asking yourself why you’re feeling the way you are.
Keep asking why as you go through the events that triggered your response.
Eventually you’ll hit the bedrock of your need that’s been buried.
And you’ll see that what shows up isn’t scary and intimidating, but is only your authentic self asking to be listened to.