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You’re so honest in your writing. It’s bold. It’s frank. It’s wonderful. I could definitely see the work you are doing here as a useful book. It could save/make a lot of relationships! — Jimmi Langemo
Jimmi Langemo

“I was struggling with my daughter (16 at the time) and our constant fighting. You said something to me that changed my life! You were speaking about your own situation and you said to me “my child could not handle my emotions”. This was a HUGE “lightbulb moment” for me and it forever changed the way I dealt with my emotions when I was around my daughter!

I am happy to say that things have never been better between my soon to be 18 year old daughter and myself! I honestly never thought we would…

Mom M
That courage and dedication you so generously share with the world, has inspired me to push myself a little harder, persevere at each task a little longer, dig a little bit deeper to where the answers just “feel” right to both my humanity AND my spirit. Your insights have reinforced my direction and given me additional tools that help me clear my path. I’m wired into my creativity as never before and the new music is pouring out of me faster than I can record and produce it; this is the Un…
Brenda has truly opened up a space for introverted types on the ‘net, and her self-revelations are always inspiring. Her voice is one I always look forward to. She is one of the writers that actually played a part in my return to writing.  — S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
This is me. This is me from the day I was born. For so long I felt misunderstood and rejected, even by the people closest to me, because they could never understand my need for solitude, and I had no idea how to explain it to them. Even now that I know more about Introversion and have a more informed understanding of my hard-wired need for solitude, it’s still very difficult sometimes to help my loved ones understand this profound craving for time and space all to myself. This is one of the best…
THANK YOU….. you just summed up my swirling thoughts into something i can read with out everything else in my head meshing with it. I finally feel like i can explain what happens within without getting distracted. I’m an Introvert with ADD and it makes it so hard to explain quite what im feeling sometimes. — M.G. on space2live
Because of your blog, I know that it is possible for me to have the love that I want one day and that I don’t have to be alone.  — Indepthwoman  on space2live
Your site has saved my sanity and my life. Maybe even my marriage. I work part time and have two young boys at home, my husband is supportive of me but until recently I thought I was going crazy. … Reading your writing not only inspires me to pick up the pen again, but gives me nourishment in the deepest places. I will fight for balance. Everything you write is spot on… And wellness is so incredibly multifaceted.  I was ready to give up hope, but understanding myself through your words is bring…
I have been dating an introverted man who I am very in love with for almost 2 years.  Reading your posts have helped me to be more supportive and understanding to him especially during the times when he needs space.  I just wanted to thank you for your weekly posts and let you know how helpful they are for someone who is in a relationship with an introvert. C.M. on space2live
BRENDA: thank you SO much! Your advice is exactly what I need to do. I am amazed how much you “get” me after only exchanging a few messages!… Again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’ve helped me more than a year of therapy sessions! – Megan on space2live

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Support Systems, Voids and Values

supportive hand

It was a cold Sunday morning. I wanted to stay home, snuggle with my man, drink tea, read and eventually get ready for the Vikings football party we were hosting later that day. But I told my friend Nicole, I would be there to cheer her on during the Twin Cities marathon. I committed to being there for her.

Getting curious about emotions

Driving on the highway, on my way to the place I would see Nicole run, I got this lump in my throat. I could feel emotions welling up. Since I’ve been working on getting curious about emotions, and not letting them overwhelm me, I wondered why I was feeling so teary about Nicole’s race.

I knew she had trained really hard for it. I knew it was not an easy thing to do. I knew it would mean a lot to have someone rooting for her. I was so proud of her but still, those reasons did not explain the deep feelings rising in my chest.

Why do we value what we value?

Then it came to me. In a previous post about values, I mentioned Dr. John Demartini’s belief that our dearest values often come from our biggest voids. I realized how much I value supporting others. I value support because of the times when I did not feel the comfort and stability of support myself.

As a child, my parents were preoccupied with “just getting by”. As an adult, there were many times in my marriage when I felt emotionally alone. In both cases, it was up to me to keep my chin up and carry on. In both cases, I longed for someone to cheer me on.

What we’ll sacrifice to be true to ourselves

I never want others to feel that way. I sometimes overstretch my personal energy limits to make sure others don’t feel that way. I also feel horrible when I let people down.

Over the last few weeks, I overshot my abilities. I took a long-term paraprofessional substitution position at the high school supporting children who are physically or mentally impaired. I committed to hosting two gatherings at my house. I attended a show one of my creative writing friends produced herself. I cheered Nicole on at her marathon. I took part in and promoted an online series on clarity. I also tried to cover all the normal bases of running a household and being a good mom and partner.

I also somehow injured my rotator cuff (shoulder). Sleeping was difficult. I had to ice my shoulder at least two times a day. Trying to fit in doctor’s visits was no fun.

Basically, I took on demands that were greater than my resources. Pretty much the formula for stress.

My hat is off to all single parents working full-time.

Dr. Demartini says that our highest values require very little outside motivation. We do them with little to no prompting. I find this very true, even when we should take a break.

What keeps us going

What kept me going? I felt genuine gratitude from the friends I cheered on. I felt I did a good job and was helpful to the kids I worked with at school. I had quality talks with my own children and with the friends we invited to our house. There were intrinsic rewards galore.

Plus, when he could, Mark, my fiancé, supported me. He helped with the party planning and preparation. He listened when I told him I felt overwhelmed. He held my hand often. He told me, “You did good” when I received a text from Nicole telling me how much it meant to her that I was at the race. Yes, he even supported my supporting! Having our values validated is an amazing feeling.

We all need consistent support, to fill those voids.

What are emotions telling us?

Pay attention to when you feel strong emotions around something. Is there a core need or value being tapped? On my way to the marathon, my emotions signaled I was on the path to something that aligned deeply with my core values. What are your emotions telling you?

What do you do to exhaustion because you value it so highly? Who supports you? Who do you offer stability? 


Photo by Billy Pasco on Unsplash

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  1. Michael Buley October 20, 2018 at 5:07 pm - Reply

    Brenda, I like that you mentioned the word ‘curious’ about your emotions. I’ve long been conscious about staying curious, open — about whatever might be going on.

    Curious is a different way to work with our emotions, to play with them. As I think I’ve said before, I consider our emotions — thoughts, ideas, emotions; I’m not sure how they’re different from one another, if they are — are beings of their own. Here to work with us, guide us, teach us. They’re just there. And we can be with them, play with them, ‘entertain’ them. They’re us … and in ways, they’re not. They’re apart from us. They come and go. Some stay for a long time. Some visit briefly.

    It’s an odd and strange life. When we explore our inner selves, we really have no idea what we will discover. But discover we will. We go into unknown areas. We come face to face with … different emotions, thoughts, ideas. And the more time we spend with them, the more they come to us, the more they have to say to us.

    We like things to be fixed, in a lot of ways. We want clarity. When we go within, nothing is fixed. Nothing is particularly clear. I liken it to getting in our cars, and driving. Without a destination. And seeing what we see. Following a path, then this one, then this one. And soon enough, we are where we have never been. We may discover some incredible things, some scary things. But we discover.

    And so it is, it seems, when we go within. We travel. How far we travel, for how long we travel, what we discover — it’s very much virgin territory. And we are changed through our travels.

    We have to be careful, somehow, when we travel on the roads outside. And we have to be careful, somehow, when we travel on the roads within. Most of us are comfortable with traveling the unknown roads outside. It feels a bit different within.

    To curious … and as always, Brenda, thank you for sharing you. You allow us, to explore ourselves, too. Your honesty allows ours. You offer us a very precious gift: freedom to be, safety, love. The beauty of it all, is a reflection of your beauty, Brenda.

    • Brenda Knowles October 24, 2018 at 1:23 pm - Reply

      Interesting point about traveling within… nothing is fixed. We like clarity and certainty because it feels safe and grounding. In order to grow we have to leave safety and certainty but at the same time safety in our outside world allows us to feel confident enough to explore. Hmmm. Thanks for making me think Michael. 🙂

  2. Kat October 19, 2018 at 3:33 pm - Reply

    ‘What are emotions telling us?
    Pay attention to when you feel strong emotions around something. Is there a core need or value being tapped? On my way to the marathon, my emotions signaled I was on the path to something that aligned deeply with my core values. What are your emotions telling you?’

    Been waiting for your new post Brenda!

    It’s in fact quite ironic, that your latest post is about emotions and what they tell us about ourselves, our needs..our a certain moment in our life!

    Yes this hit home! I knew it would! You sooth my starving soul..You always do!

    I’ve been emotional lately! There are beasts inside of my soul that became suddenly awaken! I thought I had made peace with them. I thought my stagnant life is all figured out and accepted! I thought ‘I’ had accepted all..for good!

    Not so it seems.

    I won’t say I’m happy to watch my emotions dancing wildly on the surface stage of my soul! They feel and look extremely vulnerable and exposed! I want to control them, round them up like wild horses! And bring them all into the ring! Work hard on taming them…

    I’m exhausted!

    Hardly anything is really being asked of me! In my daily life! Yet I’m starved, thirsty and exhausted.

    Thank you Brenda for allowing me to share! This is my safe place! I love it here.

    • Michael Buley October 20, 2018 at 5:11 pm - Reply

      Kat, you made me laugh — your ‘stagnant life,’ all figured out! lol …

      I’m glad your emotions are dancing on the surface. They are beautiful and alive and encourage us, sometimes demand of us, that we do not stagnate! We can, indeed, tame them and tamp them down and shut them up. But that, I think, is a fatal mistake — and one which, I think I’m safe in saying, you are unable to make, Kat! And that is a very good thing!

      I agree with you, too: Brenda gives us our safe place … I, too, look forward to her words each week, and the opportunity to breathe here in ways I don’t anywhere else, with anyone else.

      • Kat October 20, 2018 at 11:33 pm - Reply

        They did manage to scare me lately though Michael! I admit that!

        Yes it’s good to ‘feel’! It’s good to not let stagnancy get too too comfortable, stretching out its stagnant limbs, crossing its stagnant arms behind its stagnant head and claiming permanent residency, all while laying on top of our hearts! But, at the same time, a sudden flood of emotions, running back and forth between our head and our heart! like wild, hard to control unruly little children, can also be counterproductive, confusing and even damaging! It’s good to feel, it’s good to have and show deep emotions, however the key is to learn to direct them where they need to go and be free! Or they’ll get wasted, quickly wilted and die!

        Michael, I checked the leathery jacketed, sacred book of etiquettes of the blogging sphere! I found it is in fact appropriate, to leave behind a link to one’s site! I would like to invite you and Brenda to visit me there 🙂

        My space is very simple! But I will make coffee when you do visit!:)

        • Michael Buley October 21, 2018 at 1:25 pm - Reply

          Emotions can be frightening. I think the key is to not necessarily act upon them. But listen. Sit with them. Hear them. And be still, rather than reacting … emotionally to emotions! lol … I have thought many years about emotions. What they are, who they are, what they do, why they are with us. Ah, but the writing goes on without end in that exploration …!

          I’m glad the leather book said it’s okay! Thanks for sharing your simple space, Kat. Looking forward to coffee

        • Brenda Knowles October 24, 2018 at 1:27 pm - Reply

          I will check out your website Kat! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Brenda Knowles October 24, 2018 at 1:26 pm - Reply

      I love that this is your safe place to let your emotional horses and words run free! It’s funny how we need safety to be our true wild (not so safe) selves. I hope your emotions guide you well Kat. 🙂

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