Long ago, one of my mentors told me that if I wanted to get ahead in business that I had to learn how to make a poker face. When my face then contorted into what was probably a mix of confusion and indignation, he smiled and said, that’s what I am talking about.
I always thought that being open and honest and transparent was a good thing. But, in business, not so much. That’s fine, I remember telling him, I don’t want to climb the corporate ladder anyway. Years later, I am still receiving the same feedback professionally. I’ve “climbed” and I am very competent and good at my job, but I am told that I need to learn to conceal my feelings on any given matter. It’s somewhat contradictory, since I am also always seen as the “logical” and “realistic” one in the group, but I also seem to get slapped with the “emotional” label as well. And there is no place for emotions in business.
Turns out, it isn’t much better as a parent.
You aren’t supposed to let your kids see when they get to you. You need to let hurtful remarks and sassy attitudes roll off your back. You can’t let all your hopes and fears for them get wrapped up in every choice you make. You need to have all the answers or at least pretend that you do or that you know where to get them. You need to be firm, but kind. Patient, understanding, in control, and above all else you are not supposed to lose it over little shit like someone refusing to change out of dirty clothes because they have to wear sweatpants or they are never going to school ever again. And if you feel differently, you aren’t supposed to show it.
My personal challenge is that I am a passionate person. I feel things very deeply, for better or worse, and they are always right there on the surface. If I am happy, you know it! If I am not, you know it! If I agree with you, you know it! If I don’t, you know it! My trouble actually starts when I try to hide what I am feeling…something that seems to come naturally to others, is not easy for me. If I try to mask my frustration or anger, whether in business or otherwise, it seems to leak out of me in other more destructive ways.
So what the hell is a mama with no real outlet for frustration supposed to do with all that pent-up angst?
Let it go, let it go, can’t hold it back anymore… unless you’ve been living in a cave, you know how the rest of the song goes.
The thing is that Elsa (or Anna- believe it or not, I have somehow manage to escape seeing the movie even though my sons have- not sure which, but using contextual clues I am going to say Elsa) seems to have the opposite problem. She didn’t seem to feel at all. Frozen, I guess. So, she is ready to unleash her passion on the world and let the storm rage around her because that cold never bothered her anyway. Well, good for you, sweetheart. What about the rest of us who are just trying not to let every feeling and emotion we have affect the rest of our lives?
The irony, of course, is that the answer is the same. Let it go.
It’s like meditation. You empty your mind of thoughts. And if you have a mind like mine, it is nearly impossible. I always felt like a failure at meditation until someone told me that you can just acknowledge a thought without going into full-blown analysis mode on it. So you think about your son’s seeming inability to bring home his lunch bag from school. OK. That’s it. Let it go. You don’t need to wonder why he can’t remember, or think up a new points and rewards system designed to make him more responsible, you don’t have to feel any feelings about it; you just had a thought. Poof. It’s gone.
My goal is not to devoid myself of feelings, but not to hold on to them and become them either. To let my feelings surface and then rise like a bubble to pop in the air, not to simmer and stew like bubbles trapped under a lid. I will never be a good poker player, and I will never be a good liar, but I can aim to be someone who doesn’t attach themselves to their emotions so they may come and go with little effect.