Updated: Jan 18
Feeling and expressing our emotions in previous generations has often been a taboo thing to do. A lot of us have experienced some sort of emotional trauma in our lives in one way or another, and if you haven't that's amazing as I would say you are most likely a minority in that arena!
Feeling and expressing our emotions in a healthy way is not taught to us and often while growing up we experienced a parent or caregiver either stuff their emotions or enter full throttle mode when expressing and it often feeling like a tornado passing through, spewing on everyone around them and not realizing the damage caused until afterwards.
I believe that our emotions are the key to deepening the connection with ourselves and others. With anything, it's how we choose to use them that makes it a success or a failure AND with choice comes consciousness and responsibility.
I also believe that life isn't a battleground, and that we do not have to be at war with ourselves and our emotions IF we choose to lean in, and learn how to show up for ourselves the way others were not capable to do for us.
A trauma response happens when we experience a lot of emotions + the feeling of aloneness. One can be in a room full of people and feel alone if the people in the room are not capable of acknowledging you. Have you ever felt this way? When this happens while we are children, we (the child) makes up a story of why a certain thing happened so that we (the child) can feel safe. The child will internalize the situation and blame themselves because it's safer to be 'in control' vs. to admit and accept that our caregivers may not have been emotionally safe. Children need to 'make sense' of their environment in any way that they can and this is the way their brains do this.
Fast forward to adulthood.....this is where the 'please love me' dance is developed and we unconsciously please, bend and compromise ourselves in the hopes that others will 'love and accept' us.
Does this sounds familiar? Have you ever done this for any relationship(s) in your life?
I want to clarify that a level of compromise can be healthy when both people are able to acknowledge and honor each other and consciously choose...when it isn't healthy is when you choose to not honor your boundaries, or the other person expects you to without any regard for your own sovereignty. When we do it consciously there is no bitterness or anger as opposed to when we are doing it out of a sense of obligation and therefore we can start to feel bitter, angry and often resentful.
Our emotions are here to serve us when we choose to lean into them in a conscious way and our intention is to become more self aware.
The question is - How Do I Do This?
The first KEY is recognizing that we have all been programmed with core emotions and these core emotions are ones we have been born with....if you are human you have all of these. ;)
Hilary Hendel, Psychotherapist, Author, Speaker and creator of The Change Triangle, identifies the 7 core emotions as Fear, Anger, Sadness, Joy, Excitement, Disgust, & Sexual Excitement. Some of these emotions were not safe to feel at different times in our lives and around certain people, SOOOO....when any of these 7 core emotions are triggered within us and we do not feel safe feeling them we then go into Anxiety, Shame or Guilt and from those places (if our unconscious programming isn't disrupted), we will move into an avoidance behavior such as grabbing a glass of wine, eating, mindlessly scrolling on social media, or possibly even projecting our emotions onto another because it's too much to feel what we are feeling.
The first step is really acknowledging the process that happens and becoming aware of what is happening so that we can disrupt the pattern.
To Summarize the 1st KEY:
We FEEL one of the CORE emotions (see above) and if we don't feel safe feeling that emotion we will enter into anxiety, shame and/or guilt and from that space we move into any behavior that acts as a shield of protection so that we do not feel it.
Underneath every core emotion there is a need and a belief. Shining a light on our unconscious processes will help us to disrupt our programming and eventually start showing up for ourselves in a new and empowered way and to be able to cultivate safe, loving and affirming relationships that create the environment necessary for healing.