I CAN HAVE AL MY FEELINGS
I still be in control of myself!
PREVIOUS: What about Es? (Part 2)
See post: “Not enough Love?”
MASTERY vs CONTROL
EXTERNAL focus: Control is defined in the dictionary as exercising authority over, directing & commanding others, OR to hold back, curb, restrain. The need for negative control (being controlling) in our personal lives comes from an intense desire to avoid feeling fear – fear we’ve been storing away a little at a time, year after year, until it’s a mountain too overwhelming to face. Without realizing it, we believe that if we can ‘direct or restrain’ other people & situations around us we can prevent our feelings of terror & rage from surfacing. Controlling our Es keeps us from knowing ourselves fully, while trying desperately to manage other people’s perceptions of us
INTERNAL focus: On the other hand, mastery indicates becoming an expert in some area. Regarding emotions (Es), it is recognizing & accepting our True Self & therefore others – since we’re all emotional beings. We can be in charge of our feelings & behavior, as well understand & be respectful of others
• In ACoAs language mastery of our Es means having our Healthy Adult & Loving Parent in charge, instead of the WIC, while giving lots of room for the Healthy Child to thrive & express itself
When we allow ourselves to have a wide range of Es & learn how to handle them correctly, their intensity fades because they don’t get back-logged & then have to explode.
RECOGNIZE when you’re having feelings – by regularly asking “What am I feeling emotionally right now?” Name any that you can. If you’re not sure, write about recent events & talk about them to a friend or in a meeting. Often that helps to clarify our Es because we don’t have to be alone with them
Q: Have you noticed sometimes that at the end of a day – or maybe a week – you feel heavy, tired, depressed – BUT you think ‘nothing really big / bad happened’?
A: List every event, no matter how trivial or ‘innocuous’ you think they were. Some events may actually have been quite intense
• Next to each one – list Es you did have OR as many emotions as you may have felt about it – if you were ‘in touch’ (sad, mad, lonely… or happy, relieved, peaceful….)
• You notice that there are many possible Es associated with the people & situations that came in & out of your life recently – but by ignoring those Es, usually the uncomfortable ones, they stayed in you body & now you’re weighed down! (We can also overlook the pleasant ones if we’re not used to or allowed to notice them)
TIME factor in Experiencing Es
MOST Es: In a healthy state, emotions usually come & go rather quickly. We can have several, even conflicting Es, at the same time about a specific person or situation, but they’re not long-lasting, because they’re situation-specific & we’re not holding on to a negative mental interpretation of what is being felt (not judging or being fearful of having Es)
SOME Es: Then there are the long-term ‘feeling states’ like love, loyalty, faith…. that can last years or a life-time, even with ups & downs, depending on the individual or the relationship
UNHEALTHY or UNUSUAL: Painful Es that we feel continually over long periods of time (rage, fear, sorrow, hopelessness …..) may be:
— from a traumatic past & are tightly linked to belief, hope, wishes, resentments… that we have not processed & so are detrimental to us
— caused by sudden shock or unexpected loss we can’t seem to get over (such as with PTSD)
— the result of aging, a brain injury, chemical imbalance (like with clinical depression) or side effects of legal and illegal drugs
Many (but not all) of these categories of Es can be worked thru psychologically so they can be released, & in some cases can be greatly helped by corrective medication
NOT ALL EMOTIONS are big, scary or overwhelming. The ones we have in the moment are usually subtle, short-lived & sometimes conflicting. ACoAs have been so brain-washed to not recognize emotions in general, that we barely acknowledge the big ones, & the subtler ones we miss altogether!
Some ways to relieve the pressure of backed-up E:
• sometimes just writing them out is enough of a relief, & also drawing them using pens or crayons
• call someone who won’t try to fix or control you, share your Es in Al-anon & therapy
• if angry, do a minute or more of under-your-breath yelling while pounding on the couch or bed, or go outside to a deserted place to vent
• if sad, listen to music, watch a movie, read a book…. to trigger your tears. Some of us can only cry when we are with other – if they’re safe, others only when we’re alone
➼ In many cases you’ll feel lighter & be able to sleep better!
EXP: You got an email from an ex you haven’t heard from in a long time. You’re over him/her, & the content was ok – nothing special.
So — you don’t feel anything. Right?
Well — when you take a look inside, you find there were strong Es. Don’t judge, just accept & use all your tools to process them
• OR maybe there’s only a little sadness, or guilt, or loss or forgotten anger or disappointment – that got activated. But you’re not aware of it – because, in this case you don’t really care that much, you’ve moved on…. and yes, you really are not invested in this person anymore BUT feelings are feelings & aren’t logical. Just say “I might be feeling something – just quietly.” It’s normal. Acknowledge whatever Es you identify (intense and subtle), give your kid a warm hug & go on with your life – no drama!
NEXT: Es & the body (Part 1)