Let’s talk about the one thing that’s at the heart of it all, the elephant in the room, America’s worsening emotional crisis. It’s the reason half of the country is in arms and the reason the other half can’t see any issue.

There has been a significant gap in emotional training in this country since around or before the time of world war two and for some reason, no one seems to be up in arms about that fact, why is that? Because we’ve been trained to fear our emotions or at the very least to sweep them under the rug; and now we are faced with that fear head on and it’s nothing short of appalling.

One of the key indicators of being emotionally intelligent is empathy, which is exactly what divides us now, in all sincerity, it’s at the heart of each conversation whether we recognize it or not. It seems that hour upon hour can be spent in great debate but bring up the word emotions and people run for the hills.

The fear and ignorance around emotional understanding is what perpetuates our lack of it and our interest in making it part of our education system’s mandatory curriculum. We’ve been lulled into a false belief that emotions are innate, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Decades ago, before the influx of population, before food became non-food, before we wanted everything immediately, we were trained to understand and regulate our emotions discreetly, by our stay at home mom’s or extended families. If we didn’t fully understand ourselves emotionally, at the very least we understood how to be respectful and courteous to others. And that training has not only fallen through the cracks we can now see the disastrous effects as emotional intelligence declines with each generation.

We’ve been forced to stray so far away from emotional self-awareness we’ve not accepted the labeling of our emotional dysfunction and bandaiding it with the latest offering from big pharma, whose hour-long disclaimers have now become a normal part of our lives. We can’t face our prolonged anger, despair, sadness and anxiety because we simply have not been given the tools to do so, and our capitalistic society is making a literal killing from our pain, fear and insecurities. Gone are the days we could take a minute to stop and gather ourselves. The idea of taking time out to assess how you feel during your day will have you laughed out of your very lucrative place of employment.

The truest culprit on the top of the emotional pile, driving it all is pain; deeply hidden, often repressed pain and that pain has been cultivated and growing for years. Again because we don’t know how to understand ourselves emotionally. Pain is the driver of fear; fear creates anger, authoritarianism, conflict and divisiveness because it’s driven by insecurities and our fear of being vulnerable to judgement and criticism; all examples of lack of emotional self-awareness. It has the ability to turn humans into greedy and power-hungry bullies, belittlers and thugs. Whereas the reverse, the peacemakers of emotional awareness are kindness, compassion, empathy, sympathy and love. It’s the veritable difference between light and dark. Imagine how different the world could be with increased emotional awareness for all.

The opposition to this simple concept is huge because it’s so deeply ingrained as well as a very powerful money maker. But money can be made in peace and victims can find the root cause of their frustration. In order to find lasting change we must first address the core issues of the dysfunction, another simple concept that seems so difficult at times. And how do we start, by taking a moment to assess how we feel and the time to understand the root causation because it’s out there blatantly starting us in the face, we are just all to upset and ill equipped to handle our upset to see it.

What do we need to make this happen?

The awareness to start thinking about this and start having this conversation.

The open mindedness to think outside the box re-prioritize our concerns while seeking solutions.

The desire to understand yourself from within and to take personal responsibility.

An honest self-assessment: start by recognizing and admitting all forms denial distraction or avoidance you are using.

Deeper levels of emotional self-awareness, give yourself permission to feel without fear. Take the time to identify (name) how you feel, to process (think through) those feelings and to release (cry, scream, write, let go) what you feel. And to use these tools to regulate our emotions so we can release all the dysfunction we use as coping now. Lastly, face any hidden trauma that may continue to trigger dysfunction.

Is it hard, is it daunting, maybe a little, but not nearly as hard as life as we know it now.

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Penny Payton.