PREVIOUS: ACoAs & Emotions #3
SITE: “I Don’t Want to Talk About it: The Secret Legacy of Male Depression.” by Terrance Real
Resistance to FEELING Emotions (Es)
• The source of our personal power is in our self-esteem – which is fueled by the emotions of Love & Joy. So resistance to having our emotions is a way to stifle the flow of life. It takes a lot of psychic effort to push down our Es & keep them down – not leaving much energy left over to function fully!
And when we had to shut down because our pain was too much to handle, we also shut down our joyful Es! Repressed Es are trapped in the physical body and in the layers of the aura that radiate from our core. Such a backlog of Es can cause holes in our aura, leaking out vital energy, which creates fatigue, vulnerability & low self-confidence!
• Emotions, as such, are never dangerous, but rather it’s having un-processes feelings that pile up year after year, causing them to fester. Our body wants to eject emotional poison the same way it does physical toxins. If we don’t allow this to happen they have a damaging effect. Releasing them voluntarily is best in the long run – so we don’t explode all over ourselves & others. If we “dump” our pain on others or act them out in a self-destructive way we feel even worse about ourselves (more S-H)
The BRAIN: our ability to repress emotions comes from the fact
that humans have several brains : the mammalian fore-brain, the reptilian early brain, & the mid-brain which is a combination of the two.
To function well we need the capacity to choose how we act on our emotions. But sometimes we also need to disconnect from them because of intense or repeated traumatic events, in order to go on with our lives:
• When we wish to remember, we record the information in all 3 parts, altho what info is stored varies according to which data bank it goes into
• When we want to forget, we disconnect the memory links between the fore-brain (thinking) & the other two – creating amnesia
BTW, ACoAs are notorious for having a built-in forgetter, which includes all the good things that happen to us day by day in the present!
The mid-brain, as the go-between, is responsible for keeping it all straight, & does so very well – especially in a ‘civilized’ society.
Exp: Not letting blind rage erupt in public will prevent getting fired, thrown out & in some cases killed (road rage, gangs…). Not acting on every sexual impulse will preserve our promise of fidelity to a mate, maintain the family’s integrity, eliminate STDs….
Are you emotionally repressed?
• If we want to know what Es we are denying, there are many ways – when we’re ready & capable of facing them (“Getting to your Es – Over & Under” posts have a list of tools). We can always start by asking some basic Qs, like the obvious one: “What am I feeling?”.
The typical repressive’s answer is predictable: “I don’t know”. From there we can go on to: “What feelings am I not expressing?” & then to “If I knew what I was feeling, what would I say it is?”. If the answer is always the same – it’s time for outside help (which we can all benefit from anyway), such as 12-Step meetings, therapy, reading, spiritual gatherings, healing groups …..
— One hint is when everything in life seems rather gray. We may only feel a bit off, as if something’s wrong but we don’t know what it is. We’re lonely & dissatisfied with ourselves, our life & others around us. It’s like being allergic to something in the air or mold in the walls – it’s making you sick but you can’t see it
— Or it’s a deep sense of anger & disappointment, with no immediate or obvious cause. Sitting on decades of built-up pain (rage, terror, sorrow, frustration, loneliness…) is a lot like a normal-looking mountain that’s really a volcano with gases trapped & bubbling underground waiting to erupt. We need to find the right kind of pressure-valve that won’t add to the suppression but also won’t harm us or others
a. Many studies have made the connection between suppressing Es & OCD, PTSD, auto-immune illnesses & panic attacks.
b. Other studies have shown that deliberately trying to push painful Es out of our consciousness can lead to a ‘rebound effect‘ setting up a vicious cycle: You have a painful emotion. You try to push it away. This lasts for a few seconds – or more – & then it rushes back in. This leads to more pain, which you try to push away again, etc. Since you can’t stop it from repeating you start with the mental recriminations “I can’t do anything right, It’s hopeless, I can’t cope, I’ll never get better” ….
PUSHING AWAY – Some ways we circumvent Es, which then get swept under the carpet:
• ignore or pretend something hasn’t happened that upsets us
• stuff ourselves with food, or ingest things that dull our mind & senses, such as sugar, wheat, fats, drugs, alcohol….
• any type of compulsive activity – being overly busy, on the net too much, excessive tv watching, exercising, reading, sex ….
• isolate; live in our head – constant intellectualizing & analyzing
• keep all our conversations superficial, especially around someone who is expressing Es; always make something serious into a joke
• bury anger under a mask of peace & love OR hide vulnerability under expressions of anger, cynicism & sarcasm
People refer to ‘being emotional’ as a bad thing. It’s unfortunate that this expression refers to crying or wanting to cry – as if that’s the only emotion people have, even tho when we’re excited, angry, pleased, scared, feel sensual ….. we’re also being emotional! And even worse, this accusation is targeted mainly at women, who are taught to repress anger, which gets turned in on themselves, & then into depression. Outwardly, for many, this can show up as the compulsion to rescue, fix & change the very people who are hurting them because they don’t have the right to express their outrage directly or leave
Men are not supposed to show fear or sadness, or any other form of vulnerability. But since men have all the same Es as women, eventually their repression can also turn into depression. And since these softer Es are often covered by aggression & busyness, it’s harder to identify. One way to spot their depression, when it’s not obvious, is when a man develops a sexual dysfunction with no physical cause, such as lack of libido (loss of interest). Of course men can be sexually active & still have walking-depression, or be hyper-sexual as a coping mechanism
• “The only way out is thru!” No method of avoidance is successful – emotions don’t actually evaporate when we ignore them – they just go underground – & fester!
NEXT: Purpose of Es – Survival