PREVIOUS: Purpose – Awareness
Review post : “Getting to our Es – Over”
REMINDER: Use Acronyms Page for abbrev.
2. INDIVIDUAL NEEDS
a. To Feel ALIVE
Over-all purpose of Es: To experience & get the most out of life. A healthy, integrated life includes having access to all our Es, as they surface & then pass thru us, moving on to the next emotion & the next. When an emotion is experienced to the fullest & allowed to run its course, it dissolves like smoke & can be remembered with a smile – even if it was unhappy !
Es are spontaneous responses to everything inside & outside of ourselves. They’re what make us feel alive – both the thrills & chills – telling us who we are & how we feel about our experiences. The more an event or person means to us, the more intense our emotional reaction.
• Without Es we would be like robots (see “Computer Role”). People who are physically healthy but emotionally shut down or completely cut off have difficulty identifying with others & so will often do a great deal of harm. If their state is not too severe, as it is with NPDs & psychopaths, this emotional numbness can be modified when such a person is willing to do the ‘thawing out’ work.
A medical parallel is with autistic people who have a disability in recognizing facial & body cues. (See “The Body & Es, Part 2”) This limits their capacity to identify Es in others & therefore to make emotional attachments & social connections. Autistic people do have feelings, & if taught to identify physical cues in childhood, they can lead more satisfying lives
• Positive Psychology tells us that psychological life-satisfaction & well-being come from participating in activities that boost pleasant Es, which then allows us to discover & use our character strengths & virtues.
It offers four broad pathways that can help us enhance these Es to experience more moments of happiness: of joy & pleasure, of love & relationships, of peace & tranquility, of hope & resilience
b. For SELF-AWARENESS
Self-Perception Theory & Cognitive Appraisal Theories of Emotion suggest how we figure out what are our Es are: by staying awake & observing ourselves.
✶ Es provide us with inner guidance – as internal indicators of what is good & bad for us, and what our needs are. But each person differs in the amount: some people require more water, food or sleep than others. One person may need freedom & independence while another security & continual social connections. Some may have a need for understanding life & satisfying a great curiosity, while others are content to accept whatever they’ve been taught
• Therefore emotions alert us when any natural, normal need is not being met. Es signal us to pay attention & do something about it – hopefully something appropriate & empowering. So – when we feel:
— lonely, we know we’re not connected (enough) with other people
— afraid, we know we don’t feel safe (for self or loved ones)
— rejected, we know we aren’t being accepted, respected, valued….
We couldn’t appreciate life if our emotions disappeared:
– How long could we physically survive if we never felt fear?
– Why would we want to apologize if guilt was not available?
– How could we miss the company of others if we couldn’t feel loneliness?
• ACoAs grew up in environments where our Es were constantly minimized & invalidated, making is very hard to get our legitimate human requirements taken seriously. It taught us to not trust our emotions, but it didn’t take away those needs! So, in reaction, some of us increased the intensity of our Es & how we expressed them (became dramatic – but NOT crazy) , desperately trying to get some of our needs met. For others – we decreased the strength & expression of our Es (became withdrawn & invisible), making it hard to be seen & heard, leaving us even more ‘starved’!
• Many times the nonverbal emotion-cues we put out don’t match our inside experience. It’s inevitable, then, that people will misread & misunderstand what we’re experiencing – which adds to our pain & isolation. For example:
— smiling or making a joke about some painful event in our life
— always acting like everything is fine, when we’re dying or raging inside
— acting sexual when we’re actually lonely or needing to be acknowledged as a person
— crossed arms, stiff, aloof – when feeling terrified, BUT others read those signs to mean we’re angry or arrogant
• On the one hand – Es cannot tell us the objective, measurable truth about things which require facts & proof. From time to time we have been correct when we ‘felt’ that something was going to be good or turn out badly. But misusing intuition, when it’s based on our damage, can have us believing all our ‘feelings are facts’: “I love him, so he’s definitely a good person”, “I feel stupid, so I am stupid”….. While our emotions are always valid, they don’t necessarily tell us that’s real about other people & outside situations (see “Feelings Aren’t Facts”)
• On the other hand, not feeling something doesn’t mean it has completely & forever gone away. We may say: “I don’t feel a connection with a H.P. anymore” , “I don’t feel anything about her / him leaving” , “I don’t feel love / empathy / compassion for them”, “I don’t feel sexual anymore” ….. The reality is – in some cases this could mean that we may need some hormonal or other medical help, but usually it means we’re so emotionally shut down we are temporarily out of touch with the energy flow that keeps us joined to ourselves, our spirituality & to others. When we do Emotion Release work – with or without help – we can reconnect!
• Es are an important part of a mechanism that tells us that we are – at our core – pure, positive energy, the energy of love. Most of us are trained out of this knowledge early on, but we can find our way back by using the vibrational feedback system of our Emotions! Think of this energy as the signal strength on a cell phone —
— the less aligned we are with the energy of healthy self-love (because of S-H & CDs), the weaker the signal strength. The less of this energy we receive, the worse we feel, to the point of becoming powerless, afraid, vulnerable, depressed & out of control. We can get so far away from the signal that we not only can’t hear it, we forget the signal even exists!
— the more aligned we are with our True Self, the stronger the self-esteem is, the clearer we can feel the energy of love – first for ourselves & then for others (but not from FoA or Co-dependence)
• Even with all the trouble life brings, our natural state is to be happy, curious & creative (watch little kids, before they’re damaged!) & this state is what we need to recapture from our earliest years, OR heal enough to experience for the first time
— Es let us know when we are miserable or just uncomfortable – because someone has harmed us or because a specific need is unmet or missing in our life. We can be warm, dry & full of food but still be miserable
— But feeling genuinely happy, content, relaxed…. indicates that, at least for the moment, some of our needs have been met, whether short-term or long-term
Expl: Chaz Bono talks poignantly about being unhappy his whole life until his sex change. He always knew he wanted to be a boy & now that he is – he is genuinely happy & content. The rest of us may have less dramatic needs to fulfill, but they are no less important to our well-being!
NEXT: Purpose of Es – Protection