Emotional (aka, soul) work is the hardest work an individual will ever do (at least in my non-professional opinion).

In fact, it flat out sucks.

However, it’s always worth it.

The reason why emotional work is so challenging is because taking a microscope to your life and critically analyzing your memories, responses, and behaviors can be painful and exhausting. Especially if you didn’t realize those memories, responses, and behaviors were there to begin with.

Additionally, it doesn’t help that mind gremlins (those annoying self-deprecating and self-doubting thoughts) attempt to hijack the process, rob you of your revelations, and threaten your progress.

I was recently talking with a girlfriend about my upcoming trip to Arizona, and mentioned that, in addition to spending Thanksgiving there, my mom and stepdad had several outings planned, including cave exploration. In this same conversation, I made the comment (which gave birth to the title), “As of late, I’ve been spelunking in emotional caves too.”

During our physical cave exploration, I learned the following:

  1. There are multiple tours. You don’t have to hit every cave, all in one shot. You can go on one tour, come back for another, or go on the same tour again to see if you missed anything the first time.
  2. Each tour is a set duration of time. You’re not in there forever, nor are you supposed to be.
  3. You don’t have to go alone. There are others that our willing to go with you.
  4. A little light illuminates a giant cavern.

I think these same lessons apply to emotional caves.

When we start digging into past memories, thoughts, and hurts, the fear is that we’ll dig so deep, or stay too long, that we’ll never get out. However, this isn’t the case.

In my experience, it’s this digging into the past which makes us the best version of ourselves in the present. While it seems counterintuitive, I’ve learned that many times, we have to go backwards to go forward.

Thankfully, we don’t have to do this in one fell swoop. We can take multiple tours of our emotional caverns, over months, years, and decades. We can limit the time we spend in them. We can solicit friends, family, church members, acquaintances, and mentors to journey with us.

And it’s the knowledge, perspective, and truth that we gain on each of these tours that lights the way for future ones. The awareness, growth, and progress we experience on these emotional tours, further fuels our desire to explore.

Each time we go spelunking, we become more adept at it. Each time we go surveying, it’s less painful.

And, with each emotional tour, the caverns become less dark.