Our emotions are emissaries of the unconscious. They’ve important messages for us, but too often we’re trained to deny them, to repress them, or to avoid them.
It is the responsibility of our caretakers to teach us how to regulate and manage our emotions. Unfortunately, many parents view any emotional display as an affront to their own character. As such, they react, rather than respond. They endeavor to silence that which calls into question their competence as caretakers and authorities.
Because of this, we learn to fear emotion. We learn to hide it, but the unconscious functions like a pump. When pumps are clogged, they either burst or cease all function. Such is also the case with a psyche corked and clogged by disavowed feeling.
Psychological defense mechanisms are the burst. They are the incontinence.
They may serve us well for a while, but over time, they defeat us by precluding vulnerability, which prevents intimacy in relationships and serves as an offense against those who are less guarded than ourselves (like our own offspring).
Thus, as adults, we must train ourselves to feel. We must train ourselves to acknowledge estranged emotion; after all, these feelings from which we’ve defended ourselves are the marrow of the human experience. They give us our humanity. This is worth embracing, isn’t it?!
Once we begin to practice tolerance for our own emotions, we’re better able to tolerate (and even encourage) the emotional response of those we love. We may take comfort in the knowledge, aptly conveyed by Joseph Burgo, that “Feelings are transient experiences; they come and go.” As such, they do not define us.
“The human emotional landscape” consists of the “feelings that all of us feel and struggle with at one time or another…If we’re fully alive to ourselves and our experience, we can’t avoid those feelings.”Joseph Burgo, Ph.D, Why Do I Do That?
Let’s embrace these beautiful emissaries. Let’s embrace the marrow of life!
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