Befriending Your Emotions: I The problem of emotional denial

Our emotions are our friends.  Our best friends, they are undyingly caring about us and doing the very best they can in our best interest.  Emotions let us know what is working for us and what is not. They are based in the aspects of our survival, growth, pleasure, and pain physiology.  They are action requiring neurological process that helps us understand what our needs and preferences are.  Who we are as an individual, and the action we need to take to take care of our self, to move toward growth and life.  Rather than drift, in survival mode, towards death

It is unfortunate that society, predominantly, conditions us to believe that there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ emotions.   That we need to stay away from our emotions and be rational.   It is important, they say, not to make the mistake of being emotional! ‘Bad’ emotions are unwelcome and a problem.  While ‘good’ emotions are what we want to experience all the time.   Yet be careful not to express those too much.   So if a bad emotion starts we are taught to deny it and suppress it.   While good emotions are ok, in moderation, or we have an unrealistic expectation that we can have then all the time.

Importantly we are NOT taught how to listen to our emotions, let alone respond to them.   We are not taught we are valuable beings that need to be cared for.   The truth is we are valuable beings that deserve, indeed have the right, to have our needs fulfilled. We need to listen to our emotions.  We need to pay attention to them; they are trying to tell us something important.   They are trying to tell us how to care for our self and how to live a fulfilling life.

Further this disconnection results in the common practices that leave individual’s experiencing them confused, perhaps wondering what is wrong with them, generally leaving them feeling unsafe and alone.   Indeed these practices are so common it is no surprise so many of us are struggling with a sense of not belonging and loneliness.  A critical truth is, is that when we are feeling unsafe we ourselves tend to practice these actions of emotional absurdity.   They are, at least initially, protective behaviors used when we do not know a better way and feel unsafe.

These common practices include:

Lying about one’s feelings

Pretending we aren’t feeling what we clearly are, others can see

Avoiding sensitive subjects

Using language to hide, obscure & skirt critical issues

Claiming to be rational when we are emotional

Pretending to like what we do not

Attacking people who frighten us, without realizing we are full of fear

Stopping forward movement/change (growth) because we are angry or full of grief. Yet no one can speak the truth, for we will claim it is them, not us, because our denial is so strong we project our emotions onto them.

Words spoken say one thing, the body expresses another and often a different action is taken.  At some level we can all see this emotional absurdity, lack of authenticity, it is very confusing and leaves us vulnerable to further harm.  Indeed the control of and disconnection from our emotions is the first step of the harms of controlling relationships.

By disconnecting us from our inner life and confusing us with emotional untruths and training us to be externally directed we provide perfect targets for abusive, controlling relationships and escalating violence.  As a consequence reconnecting with our inner life and befriending our emotions is the first real step in reducing violence in our society. The truth is emotional awareness and empathy are required for our health, our wellbeing, making decisions and quality relationships.

By befriending our emotions we reconnect with our self

and travel the path toward authenticity,

genuine caring relationships and

a fulfilling life.  

Will you choose to travel this path?

 

 

References and further reading:

Asatryan, K. 2016 Stop Being Lonely New World Library

McLaren, K. 2013 Art of Empathy Sounds True

Saying No Appropriately is Powerfully Respectful.

Saying No appropriately is essential.

It is about being respectful and setting clear boundaries.

Many of us have been taught to ‘do the right thing’, ‘put others first’ and ‘to be nice’.  Often the implication and result is we come to believe saying ‘no’ is not ok.  In addition many people expect others to always say Yes!   Perhaps including your self.   Both of these views are not in your or anyone’s best interest!  Not only is it ok to say No, it is vitally important to appropriately say No.

Saying No ‘appropriately’ means knowing what you key priorities are.  It is about knowing, caring and attending to what is right for you, your values and your priorities.    As well as what is not.  By allowing yourself to focus your attention on what is most important, you are practicing self-respect.   That is you don’t have to fulfil others needs all the time.  You matter too.

Saying No doesn’t mean the other have to go without; it just means you won’t fulfil that particular request, perhaps only at that particular time.   You could suggest another way they can get what they are asking for.  By validating them and their request you are acknowledging both your right to say No and theirs to ask.  Being respectful of others is also important.

As is fulfilling your role in a relationship.  However, this does not mean saying ‘no’ is not ok.  Indeed to say yes, inappropriately, that is to fail to say no appropriately, is practicing disrespect for all.   Being respectful to your self is foundational to respecting others.

Saying No appropriately allows clear boundaries to be set.  It clarifies what is important acceptable and not acceptable for you and or the situation.  While allowing your self to be ‘distracted from what is most important’, ‘spread too thin to do justice to anything’ or ‘accepting inappropriate behaviour’ are forms of disrespect.

Identifying, creating time for and standing by what is important to you means you are being powerfully respectful of yourself and sets boundaries for what is appropriate and what is not appropriate in your life.  In essence saying No appropriately is setting boundaries to allow respectful behaviour for all.

Our conditioning to say yes (be nice) is one reason we find it challenging to say No.   Other reasons include concerns the other person will not receive our No well.  They will be upset, or hurt, which could create conflict or damage to the relationship.   The lack of understanding of the value and importance of saying No fuels these misguided ideas. Develop your understanding and apperception for the value of appropriately saying No!

To help you get comfortable with this remember you, indeed everyone, has a right to ask for what you want and who ever has been asked, has a right to say No.  All an appropriate No means is, there is a need to ask someone else and or get creative with the request.

You have a right to say No!

This means others can say No too!

The expectation of a Yes denies the right of choice.