For generations, dams were an essential part of our new growth policy in the United States, in that they provided us with power and jobs. But we have come to understand that these great symbols of man’s conquest over nature, were in fact, damaging to the very environments in which they were built. In some cases, beyond repair.
Well the same goes for the emotional and psychological dams we build in our lives. They are unconscious attempts to keep ourselves from feeling something or saying what’s true for us. Two important points to make about personal dams:
1.We spend a good part of our lives building them, only to one day realize that they no longer serve us and must come down.
2. They may keep things nice, but the consequences from having them are devastating to who we are at our essence.
So what do these dams look like? They are ways in which we do or don’t do ourselves in response to the world around us. Holding our feelings in. Not expressing ourselves. Hiding our desires. Not intervening. All ways of avoiding (the biggest dam of all). I often find that fear is the primary builder of these emotional dams.
Let me give a personal example of this. Marilyn and I were experiencing a breakdown in our communication and struggling in the silence that often follows. Neither of us were flowing. We were “dammed up”. Once we started to express what was real for us, everything began to shift. The frustration dissipated. We both felt lighter. The love and respect we feel for each other filled the space where distance and frustration once thrived. It was tough to start – because we both feared the outcomes – but we did it anyway.
So I believe the first step in any process is awareness. Can I just bring awareness to where I hold myself back in my life? This is my starting place. The rest is about being full and fearless. Remember, dams are not dismantled in a day.