Emotional recognition and expression is so important, especially living in our high-speed world today. I will straight up advise that this post is a bit deeper than the last one I published. Nevertheless, I hope you find value in the educational experience I provide for you below.
By the way, here is a nice album that I was listening to as I wrote this.
Recently one of my friends was going through a breakup, and was trying to figure out how to handle the feelings it brought on. Typically she would merely acknowledge what she felt and carry on with her day, in hopes that the feelings would pass as she distracted herself with her normal routine. What I’ve learned in therapy and through books, is how important it is to sit with your emotions. But what does that really mean? My friend was a bit confused when I told her to do this, and I completely understand why. “What am I supposed to do?”
In today’s digital, fast-paced society, we are instructed to constantly do. Post updates to your Facebook page, plan your next trip, exercise, meet up with friends or co-workers, work on improving your resume, volunteer, do your hobbies, start your own business, etc.. I think we are expected to do too much, especially when inner healing needs attention. Depending on where life leads you, we all go through challenging times in our life. What matters is how we handle the emotions that come along with each difficult situation. Emotional breakdowns, burnouts, chronic stress, these are becoming more and more common. It is NOT fun, let me tell you. This shit’s real people, and it isn’t going to get better until we learn how to prevent it by balancing our well being needs with the modern pace of life. Just because we can Google a question, and have an answer in less than 1 second, doesn’t mean that our human being can heal at the same rate. It takes time and active processing; we need to appreciate that.
Why is it though, that we so easily and naturally push down our emotions? When our reality becomes intolerable, we subconsciously numb the pain and protect ourselves through the usage of various ego defenses. The most common are: “denial (not actually happening); repression (never happened); dissociation (don’t remember what happened); projection (happening to you, not me); conversion (I do something else when I feel it happening); and minimizing (happened, but not that big of a deal).” (Bradshaw) Can you identify with any of the above ego defenses? Personally, I can relate to minimization. Don’t worry though, this is our body’s natural way of protection against emotional pain.
According to R. L. Isaacson, the neocortex (the thinking brain) is concerned with overcoming memories and habits from the past, which “include the deeply grooved imprints (neuronal pathways) created by overwhelming stress and trauma.” (Bradshaw) The neocortex suppresses the noise and signals generated in our internal world, thus making itself capable to function unhindered. But the signals don’t just go away! Researchers theorize that “they continue to travel around and around close circuits of nerve fibers within the limbic system. The ego defenses bypass the tension and the pain, but the tension and pain remain. They are registered subcortically as an imbalance, an aborted action sequence awaiting release and integration. The energy of the original trauma remains like an electrical storm that reverberates tension throughout the biological system. People with seemingly rational adult lives may continue to live stormy emotional lives. Their storms continue because their original pain is unresolved.” (Bradshaw)
You’re probably thinking, “okay, yeah that’s interesting, but still, what am I supposed to do?” The answer lies within you! What I do, for example, is write. I love to write. I get all of my feelings out on paper (or screen, rather), and it somehow validates my emotions when I read my entry back to myself. While mindful of the situation and emotional discomfort, some people may dance, color, run, meditate, sleep, walk, scream, make music, paint, punch their pillow, cry, laugh, the list goes on. Sit with the discomfort and get it out! Don’t let your emotions get buried so that you have to deal with them later. In my opinion, it is way stressful to think about having to fight a big scary monster of emotions some day; one who may haunt you with its features throughout your life. Better to deal with them one by one as you go step by step, leaving you with a richer understanding of your individuality and wholeness of life itself. No more distractions from the big scary monster!
Get that shit out, don’t push it down! When it comes to healing, you’ll never win a race against Google. Wait for your answers, be patient with yourself and your human emotional needs. Here is my challenge for you: The next time you are going through a situation that could cause for emotional discomfort, I urge you to acknowledge the feeling, be with it, find your expression tool, and take, your, time. You may or may not notice an immediate response, however, you are healing yourself, and are setting yourself up for a lighter, brighter, more joyful life in your many years ahead.
Thanks for reading! I am now accepting subject requests to discuss in my future posts. If you would like to submit your topic, or have any further questions, please contact me at my According To Allie email: firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. My puppy, Skye Louie, is growing so fast! Here is a little video I made of her on our walk yesterday! Enjoy.
References: Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child by John Bradshaw