I JUST WANT TO BE HAPPY
but first I have to clean out the damage
PREVIOUS: ACoAs & Emotions #2
BOOK: Emotional Intelligence, by Goleman, 1995 “…..what it means to be smart”
ACoAs are often CONFUSED, because —
— of our conflicting Es: old vs. current, WIC vs Adult, PP vs Adult…
— we confuse Es with thoughts/ beliefs, usually Toxic one, because we use the word “FEEL” to mean both (see ‘Feelings aren’t facts’)
— mix Es with normal human needs, which we’re deeply ashamed of
— we don’t even know what our RIGHTS are, or what ‘normal’ is, much less have permission to act on them
THEREFORE – it can be hard to figure out whether our strong emotional reactions are appropriate for a present-day event OR coming from an old wound. Usually it’s both. The good news is that as we heal & develop our “Unit” we can begin to tell the difference more easily & more often.
Whenever we’re obsessing (mentally ruminating about a hurt), start by writing down – briefly – an outline of the situation. Then we can ask ourselves some ‘look inside’ Qs to see what’s behind our reaction.
1. Which Toxic Rule is in play? (all have turned into self-destructive
patterns, also called character defects)
Exp: “If I don’t like it, I have to stay” becomes passivity
2. Which of my WIC’s unmet needs am I re-experiencing?
Exp: Being constantly ignored or punished for trying to get attention
3. What am I thinking about this situation?
Exp: “They’re never going to call / write back”, “I’m unlovable”
4. Which of my old buttons is getting activated? — A ‘button’ is an emotional sore spot from things your family & others consistently did to you &/or to each other – that hurt you Exp: Being accused wrongly / being shushed
5. Which ego state is likely in charge at the moment (WIC or PP) ?
6. If I’m acting out, which parent am I copying & how?
7. What am I most afraid of in this situation? (FoA, punishment, isolation, not being heard…)
➼ Use the info in other posts to help you answer these Qs.
Down side of some ‘New Age’ ideas
• Those of us brought up on religious, new age or other spiritual teachings that tells us to always be positive (“Be happy, don’t worry”) have found it impossible to live up to. It has left us hating ourselves more, feeling desolate & hopeless of ever ‘getting there’. What they often don’t acknowledge is that we need to allow our human side to heal & be nurtured first, before we can aspire to be ‘serene’!
• While we certainly do aim for a balanced & peaceful emotional life, it’s not healthy – OR successful – to just cover painful emotions & harmful beliefs / thoughts with a bunch of platitudes & ‘positive thinking’, without first cleaning out old Es accumulated from as far back as childhood
• Charles Whitfield, MD has provided a useful image:
Take a basket of delicious fruit & let it sit for a long time until they rot. Someone comes along & says – “Ugh, that’s gross. Let’s put some fresh fruit in there. It’ll look & smell so much better!” So you do that & everything is fine – for a while. After all, it sounded like a good idea, & they were offering it for free. BUT you added the beautiful fruit on top of the rotted ones without cleaning the basket out first
Q: What will happen to the new food?
A: After a while the fresh ones will start to rot from underneath!
Obvious? It seems not, since that’s exactly what many people do when they try to layer new ‘positive’ ideas & attitudes on top of all their emotional damage & cognitive distortions. They think they can escape the hard work of Recovery & still be ok!
Human Beings are like that basket – originally holding precious, wonderful qualities & potential. But to survive we had to create a False Self, added Toxic Rules & mixed in a lot of S-H.
➼ In Recovery we gradually ‘take out the garbage’ of our past, replacing it with the ‘good stuff’ we’ve been told about, so it doesn’t get contaminated! As our Healthy Adult takes charge we start protecting ourselves, while being respectful towards others. We can be can be forceful but clear, getting to the point, asking for what we want. We just don’t have to be rude aggressive.
Practice making declarative sentences so you don’t beat around the bush
You can say “I know he’s being disrespectful”, instead of “I feel that he’s not respecting me” – which sounds like it’s only your opinion rather than what’s actually happening.
HEALING: When we’re emotionally in pain, the FIRST thing to do for our WIC is comfort him or her. Sometimes that’s all that is needed at the moment. Only then can we start asking the above Checklist Qs.
We must develop the permission to have all our emotions, our human qualities & requirements. We also need to receive validation (cognitive) & comfort (emotional) from as many people & for as long as we need them – as well as from our Higher Power. These responses heal enough of our old wounds so we can tolerate the intensity of those emotions as we re-experience them in Recovery – a little at a time. LOVE HEALS!
NEXT: Repressing Emotions