“Sucking It Up”

May 24, 2010

Male” and “corporate.” Those two words, used in a relatively narrow and traditional sense, can easily be used to describe many of the expectations we have of how we are supposed to behave in groups/organizations/workplaces even if our groups are neither “male” nor “corporate.”

When we gather, we’ll be all business. We will be prompt, we will get our work done, we will be efficient and then we’ll be on our way. We will remain buttoned up and battened down.

Actor Daniel Craig Crying (Subtly)

Actor Daniel Craig Crying (Subtly)

And if we have any experiences that fall outside the perceived realm of propriety, we will shove them aside and we won’t let on. We will suffer (or rejoice) in silence.

This is called “sucking it up.”

Now, I think it’s sometimes helpful to be able to reign in my emotional life, to control impulses, to appear calm even when I’m  nervous. But I also know that denying those experiences—pretending that they don’t exist for whatever reason—can be both harmful and unnecessary.

I also know that, in many cases, when those sorts of experiences are expressed/acknowledged/included in a group it is usually a good thing. It releases stress, it taps the power of vulnerability, it opens up territories of knowing, it connects us. It is simply honest. For the individual body it is almost always better to move through an experience rather than shunting it aside. I believe that is true for the group body as well.

Take a look at your world, though. Where does the “suck it up” principle predominate? Who sets that tone? Are there places in your life where there is room for a wider range of experience? What is that like? Which sort of situations would you prefer to be in? Which feels more whole?

If we are to have body wise organizations, we simply must acknowledge the full range of human experience—mind, body, heart, spirit. This is a central piece of body wisdom  from the InterPlay philosophy. I truly believe that if we follow this wisdom, our groups will be happier, healthier and more hopeful.

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