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Breathe Magazine – Issue 63 (Current Issue)

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In this issue: Step into spring – Literary heights – The spirit of making – Song of the forest – Voice of resistance – Reel change – A dancing joy – Heaven scent – Lines of defence – Flowering fields forever – Echo that

‘Emotions are running high.’ Hear that phrase and there’s a good chance it’ll be followed up by something along the lines of ‘maybe best wait a while to talk to them’. It’s a pretty good suggestion. Few people are at their best in the wake of an argument or when they’ve just received bad news. It’s a time when judgment is clouded, priorities shift and decisions are hurried. It’s a time of vulnerability. Kinder to offer support or a shoulder to cry on than put them on the spot about a work project or start checking the arrangements for a friend’s upcoming birthday party.

It’s easy, however, to shy away from vulnerability, to feel uncomfortable in the presence of someone whose life has been thrown into uncertainty by redundancy, turned upside down by betrayal or devastated by bereavement. It’s natural to be anxious about what to say and how to behave in the face of raw, unguarded emotions. That’s perhaps partly because many societies still honour the age-old tradition of keeping the guard up, no matter how tough the terrain.

But there’s much to be learned from acknowledging, respecting and understanding vulnerability. Creatives of all persuasions – poets, authors, artists and songwriters to name a few – have long drawn on their own experiences of the worst of times to explore raw emotion, to convey the message of its humanity, to offer succour to those going through similar distress.

So, yes, go gently when emotions are running high and maybe wait a little while, but, if it feels appropriate, offer that shoulder or a non-judgmental ear. It won’t fix the situation. It might, however, help to foster an environment where it becomes easier to support those who are upset or suffering than it does to shy away from them.

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