Who will join you at the table?

February 2, 2024

What happens in your body or in your thoughts when I mention anger? How about anxiety or avoidance? What about defensiveness or compliance? Depending on your life experiences, these terms may have positive or negative connotations. In some families, anger was the only acceptable emotion. In others it was an anathema. For some compliance was essential to manage the environment and others needed to fight.

What if emotions, feelings or behaviors show up because they serve a purpose? You developed them as survival parts because they were needed in the past but are they needed now?

 What if you spent some time getting to know how they have become part of your life? What if in getting to know them, you get to choose when they are useful and when they aren’t. I learned a practice called RAIN from Tara Brach. Many of my clients have found it very helpful in understanding the purpose for survival parts.

Recognize – the first step is awareness. Going from an automatic response to curiosity creates the space for examination and greater understanding

Allow – whatever is happening to simply be. You don’t need to push it away or hold on tight. In a world where we often feel more comfortable with doing and controlling, allowing can be uncomfortable at first.

Investigate – or be curious about your experience. This is where you “invite the emotions or feelings, to the table”. Invite them in for tea or your favorite beverage. Judgement, fear, stress, anxiety, defensiveness, anger can have a seat at the table. Create a comfortable environment. You might actually prefer couches over chairs. Whatever works for you.

When you invite them in, rather than pushing them away, you deepen your ability to feel compassion for yourself. If the thought of inviting sadness into the room creates a high level of anxiety, start with anxiety. You get to spend as much or as little time together as you wish. They are used to swooping in on your behalf. By creating the space for listening, there is the opportunity to create a relationship.

Nurture the burgeoning relationship. Embrace it with compassion and kindness.

We embrace what we think of as positive or useful and resist, or reject, what we label as negative and possibly weak. Whenever I think about this dynamic, I visualize the energy it takes to hold something at bay like pushing against a brick wall or trying to hold onto something that will invariably change, as we do with a deflating balloon. Either way, there is no room for anything else. It’s a great way to disconnect from yourself. This practice helps connect your thinking self to your feeling self. Both are needed to live from the place of enough. The place where you live from a place of caring for yourself and being able to care for others from a place of groundedness.


  1. Britt Saavedra

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    • Denise

      Thanks Britt! I am glad you enjoyed it and are willing to re-share!