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How often do you purge your emotions?

Today is April 13 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you purge your emotions?” Those who navigate the chaos and leverage their mind, body, and spirit understand the necessity of purging their emotions. American actor and producer James Gandolfini attended Rutgers University in New Jersey and graduated with a degree in communications.

When he was 19, Gandolfini's girlfriend of two years died in a car accident. He mentioned her in accepting his third Emmy for his role as Tony Soprano in the HBO show Sopranos, in 2003 when he said “I would like to dedicate this to the memory of a girl who I knew a long time ago, she made me want to be an actor. Her name was Lynn Jacobson and I miss her very much.”

In an interview with GQ Gandolfini went further and said, “I might not have done what I have done without her death.” The experience led him to seek a release through acting. As Chris Heath wrote in GQ, “Gandolfini was 19. Her name was Lynn Jacobson. He had been going out with her for two years. He was still a junior, but she had graduated. He was not in the car.”

As Gandolfini reflected upon this time in his life he said “She was a smart, lovely girl who worked two jobs to get her way through college and to help her family. It did not make much sense. It made me very angry. I think it changed me a little bit. I think I was studying advertising or something before that, and after that I changed a little bit. You know, it must have changed me a little bit." He would later describe the reason he acts as to "vomit my emotions out of me."

On the necessity of purging your emotions, Jennifer Rollin wrote in Psychology Today people “deserve to let themselves experience all of their emotions.” Holding emotions in can cause a variety of problems such as numbing positive feelings, suffering more, and preventing yourself from experiencing a full life. For those who navigate the chaos it is important to note that the purging of emotions often comes during an incredibly stressful time in their life. One such example of someone who purged his emotions is Australian Paul de Gelder.

As a teenager, Paul de Gelder ran rampant with his friends and became involved in drinking, fighting, and stealing. He knew this was no type of life. He subsequently left his hometown and started a new life that involved working the bars of strip clubs and an involvement in the Australian music scene, even opening for Snoop Dogg in 1998.

In November of 2000, de Gelder, then 23, joined the Royal Australian Army as a paratrooper in search of a better life. It was a defining moment for him, and he learned the arts of jungle and urban warfare; unarmed combat; specialist communications; combat first aid; parachuting, snipering; and was deployed as a United Nations peacekeeper.

In 2005, with a desire to expand on his career and test his mettle, Paul attempted the arduous Royal Australian Navy Clearance Diver selection process. After a year of training, he was accepted onto the Dive Team. But trouble hunted him down. In February 2009, while on a dive, Paul was attacked from below by a bull shark. It bit down on his right arm and leg simultaneously and tried to drag him down. He was pulled to safety, but he lost both limbs, and his career as a daredevil Navy Bomb Clearance Diver was flung into jeopardy.

Drawing on everything his eventful life had taught him, Paul left nothing to chance in his recovery. He fought through excruciating pain, smashing challenge after challenge, and amazing the medical staff with his will to succeed. His determination took 'never say die' to a whole new level. By leveraging his mind, body, and spirit, de faced his fears head on and learned to swim with the sharks he once despised, but now champions.

He's dived with sharks all over the world, swimming among dozens of breeds, including cageless swims with the infamous great white shark, learning to hand feed bull head sharks in Fiji, and great hammerheads in the Bahamas. In the years since the shark attack, de Gelder's life has changed in every aspect. He left full time Navy Service in August 2012, after instructing Navy Divers for 3.5 years. He has traveled the world as a top motivational speaker, passionate environmentalist, adventurer, and mentor to school kids.

Upon reflection on his life, de Gelder discussed the difference between dying and dying with regrets and said “Believe me when I say, dying is not scary. I’ve faced it in the most horrific and violent ways – most people’s worst nightmare. The dying part is not scary. The bit where you’re dying and you have regrets is scary. And I didn’t have any regrets. Because I’d achieved so much more than what I thought was possible in my life. And now it’s come to the point where I’m on bonus time, I’ve got my second chance, so there’s absolutely no way I’m going to waste that now.”

  • How often do you purge your emotions?

  • How often do you realize that purging your emotions can help you understand the difference between dying and dying with regrets?

  • Is someone or something holding you back from purging your emotions? If so, why do you think that is?

  • How does it feel when you do purge your emotions?

  • Do surround yourself with people that encourage you to purge your emotions?

  • Do you encourage others to purge their emotions?


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