THAT’S NO WAY TO FEEL!
You’re too much for me. I don’t want to hear it.
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3. REPRESSING Others’ EMOTIONS (cont.)
d. Insensitivity – having IN-appropriate responses when hearing any expression of emotional distress (“I’m really upset / scared /worried…), such as:
• ignore it completely or blatantly change the subject
• stop calling or visiting – just disappear for a while without explanation
• come up with thoughtless, unfeeling, unsolicited or unnecessary ‘solutions’ (the most common mistake!)
In this case we’re trying to stop their emotional discomfort with a ‘practical fix’, so we don’t have to deal with ‘messy’ emotions – theirs and ours! BY:
• giving them a ‘chin up’ lecture’, telling them it’s not all that bad (when it is)
• trying to take their mind off of the hurt (this may be useful – sometimes, with some people)
• promising that something good will ‘come out of this / something better will come / it’ll turn out OK’ – which we can’t possibly know or deliver
• say ‘It’s OK’, when nothing is changing in reality (like a parent or spouse’s drinking / drug use)
• minimizing the extent of their pain, by NOT believing the depth of their suffering with comments like: “It can’t be that bad?!” / “You’re just being dramatic”
• OR pretending they have NO responsibility for the pain they’re currently in, as an adult (like, marrying yet another addict • not dealing with a health problem until it’s too late • getting fired from yet another job…), just to make them feel ‘better’
• give unsolicited ‘helpful’ suggestions which have nothing to do with the issue at hand OR not the point of the pain
EXP: After surviving the devastation of her apartment burning down, which destroyed everything including her 2 cats & 2000 books — a woman heard various insensitive things like • “You should be grateful. At least you weren’t killed!” • “So, what did you learn?” • “So, just get another cat?!” • &, some just laughed! ARGHHH @**!!! %@% ))))
CAUSEs of REPRESSING
Re. US: clearly, these are some of the ways we were abandoned by our various caretakers – & not just by our parent. Also by teachers, baby sitters, religious leaders, other relatives….
• Emotions were either not tolerated at all or ONLY certain one were acceptable – usually ‘pleasant’ ones (see Toxic Rules)
Re. our Family:
• we were taught to ‘take care of others’ at home, because they couldn’t or wouldn’t be responsible themselves or us, so now we’re just following the script. It has become our identity. (See ‘Rescuing’)
• we saw how incompetent our parents were in many ways, & how un-able to deal with THEIR emotions – so we project that incompetence & inability onto everyone else in our life, without even realizing it!
• we could NEVER fix our family, stop their pain, make them whole, SO we compulsively try to do that with others in the present, desperately trying to quiet our fear & guilt
• we think we have to protect & fix everyone, or they too will fall apart, like our family. We’re only trying to keep OUR world from falling apart!
➼ We deeply believe that if we allow ourselves or others to FEEL too much, that we (& they) will go crazy or die! This comes from our early experiences and is now firmly embedded in our Inner Child.
However, the real issue is that we never learned how to ‘house’ & process pain, nor do we know how to comfort ourselves. Feeling all our emotions can be painful but not dangerous. Suppressing them is!
Re. US • we stay stuck in the past, can’t express our true self or gain serenity
• we lose out on the knowledge, connections & love that comes from treating people as equals, rather than as being one-down to us
• we perpetuate & increase our own abandonment – because others will become angry, resentful, abusive or just avoid us
• without realizing it, we’re being arrogant, presumptuous, narcissistic
• we mistreat others, encourage symbiosis & dependency, negate their rights, add to their abandonment experiences
• think we’re mind-readers, have magical powers, can do the impossible (this is typical ACoA grandiosity)
Re. US • we need to accept that we don’t have to be there for someone, if or when we can’t
• we can work on our own damage, connect with our hidden pain & learn new ways to express it safely & appropriately
• we can learn that feeling our feelings will not kill us, but rather frees us to heal & grow, so the same is true for others
• we need to accept that we cannot fix other people’s mental or distress, but we can be available to support them on their journey (see ‘Healthy Helping’)
• we can be more honest & respectful, to ourselves & others, when something is too much for us. It’s much more appropriate to say: “I really can’t hear about this now/ any more..” / “This is too painful for me to listen to” / ‘I’m sorry, I can’t help you with this’…
• if the person gets very upset with us / acts devastated / becomes enraged – that’s a clear indication they want to be taken care of & WE cannot do that! NO judgement, no abuse, no dishonesty
➼ THE GOAL is to take care of ourselves, first – others second, & ONLY within appropriate boundaries! The more we do that, the less harm we do, to self & others.
NEXT: How ACoAs abandon others (Part 3a)