Emotional Safety

How Can I Trust Again?

The Aftermath of Loss & Betrayal

Trust is an essential ingredient in our lives as it lays the inner foundation for taking risks, trying new things, meeting new people and generally being open to new life experiences. Without trust we close our hearts and our minds and crawl into a hole, hoping to avoid any more pain. However trust is easily broken on many levels, and when major breaches of trust occur, we not only learn not to trust other people, but also ourselves and life. Rebuilding trust is a healing process, whether it is within an intimate relationship, a family or after a series of harrowing life experiences.

When we lose trust in life or in significant relationships, we lose trust in ourselves. In significant relationships such as couple’s relationships or family relationships, this can happen following sexual, physical and emotional abuse, personal violations, abandonment, or prolonged destructive patterns. In terms of general life events, loss of trust can follow trauma such as a plane crash, a serious car crash or natural disasters. These all lead to a loss of trust in our ability to protect ourselves and ensure safety and security. A loss of trust in ourselves and life is disorientating and feeds anxiety and depression. If the loss of trust is pervasive in life then we can start to heal by learning to trust ourselves.

Re-Building Trust in Perceptions & Emotions

The healing process to re-build trust in ourselves involves learning to reconnect to adaptive emotions, as part of the loss of trust is in our emotional guidance mechanism. Generally, after experiencing emotionally painful circumstances that rock our world and faith in life, our emotions become distorted. We can become very distressed and susceptible to depression and anxiety. Extreme circumstances lead to extreme emotions, which can mislead us if we do not understand the nature of emotions. Relearning to accurately listen to our emotions can result in re-engaging in self-trust.

When we do not trust our emotions, it is disorientating, confusing and impairs decision making. We do not believe that we will know how to cope with new situations. This is especially hard if the lack of trust of emotions resulted from childhood abuse, as there was never trust in emotions. If the abuse has been severe, it may be the case that the person also needs to learn to trust their own thoughts and perceptions as well as emotions. So learning to read emotions and distinguish between what are adaptive emotions as opposed to trauma emotions is vital to learning to trust ourselves.

Learning Boundaries

Another important aspect of learning to trust ourselves is knowing how to establish and maintain healthy boundaries. Interpersonal boundaries are our ability to let in good, healthy experiences and keep out the destructive and painful experiences. Boundaries are about or ability to say “yes” and “no”.

When there have been interpersonal breaches of trust, abuse or personal violations, then trust can be difficult to maintain. We often question ourselves, such as “could /I have seen it in advance”, “why did they do this to me”, “what was so bad about me that they could have done this to me” etc. However, if someone has broken another person’s trust deliberately then they are responsible for their actions. Our only say in the situation is to stay or leave, and if the choice is to stay, then under what circumstances. For example, the criteria that may be put to a person who has abused the other that they seek therapy and that the relationship can only continue under safe circumstances. So establishing and maintaining safe and secure boundaries leads to increased trust in ourselves.

Trusting in Life

The final important aspect of re-building trust in ourselves that I will mention today is re-building trust in life. This can be very difficult after prolonged and severe abusive circumstances or a natural disaster. A counsellor once said to me “most of us live life under the illusion of safety” … of course, until it is devastated by traumatic experiences. The hard thing is that without trust there is a general foreshortened sense of future, disconnection with happiness and increased stress and anxiety. This is some of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. So re-building trust under these circumstances is about creating new meaning of safety, security or purpose in life or even death.

It is interesting that one population that is particularly resilient to post-traumatic stress disorder is the Buddhist monks. Psychologist found that even after the atrocities that the Chinese Government inflicted on the Buddhist monk population in Tibet, which included torture and murder, most monks who survived were not traumatised.

When we look at the reasons behind the monk’s resilience, we find that their meaning of life and death is quite unique. Death is something they work towards their whole lives. A deep practice in meditation and mindfulness combined with a lifelong goal of reaching enlightenment buffers them from fearing death. Therefore they have a deep trust in life and death that many of us struggle with. Their trust is also not associated with physical safety and security. Rather they learn to detach from desire, including the desire to stay alive. In their detachment from the desire to live, they also lose their attachment to the emotions anxiety or fear that are usually associated with dying. Finally, with a loss of anxiety related to dying and powerful meanings about death that are positive, they also would not experience a loss of control in their lives or a sense of not coping. They are likely to experience some emotions, however they would not be consumed in the emotion nor would they hold on to the emotion in their bodies. So the Buddhist monks give us some interesting insights into trusting life, even in the face of trauma or adversity.

So whether rebuilding trust is following natural disaster or inflicted by other people, learning to trust ourselves again is vital to embracing life again. This could be done through reconnecting with ourselves and learning to trust our own thoughts, feelings and actions, or it may be through learning to establish healthy boundaries in interpersonal relationships. Finally, the meanings we make of life and death and the practice of mindfulness and meditation all contribute to establishing trust in life.

When has your trust been tested?

How did you overcome the challenge and re-build trust again?

 

 

The Effects of Masculine Culture on Men

As a psychotherapist, I regularly hear men talk about the culture they grew up in. What surprises me the most is that while boys have grown up in the same country and school systems, they have often experienced high grade bullying and commonly shut down their emotions. Masculine culture has been described to me by male clients, and male friends. From what I hear from men, there is a strong hierarchy and pecking order where boys and men put each other down to make themselves feel better. It is a culture of bullying, criticism, and a fight/flight reaction I sometimes hear men talking about other men, and how they hold a deep distaste for the Alfa-male and the bullying that they have received from early childhood. Some of the men I have listened to, talk about bullying that was highly traumatic and abusive, just for the sake of other boys or men to feel powerful and strong. So it does take much of an imagination to work out why a lot of men have had to shut off their emotions to survive in masculine culture.

When Anger is the only Safe Emotion to Express

Some men report that they experience anger but not the “softer” emotions such as sadness or compassion. Anger is seen as a socially acceptable emotion in masculine culture. Sadness on the other hand, signifies weakness. Some men I have talked to described experiencing fear or symptoms of anxiety and yet did not consciously recognise that they were experiencing these feelings because they had not associated the words to the experience. They may use terms such as feeling “uncomfortable” or even “angry” when they are really feeling fear. A lot of men channel their other emotions into anger because it is more socially acceptable as a man to feel angry. Anger may have been the only emotion that was “safe” to feel. As soon as a boy or in some circles, a man is seen to be weak by expressing emotions other than anger, they are easy targets by other men.

Understanding & Healing from the Bullying in Masculine Culture

Understanding this process of shutting down and numbing feelings due to masculine culture is important for both men and women. When men struggle to feel certain emotions or to express them, it is important that they give themselves compassion and understanding. Let themselves off the “critical hook”, so to speak! It can take a while to connect with emotions that have been suppressed for so long. Also, suppression of emotion involves patterns of thought, action and emotion which would need to be turned around to stop continuing to further suppress emotion. This takes time, support from male and female culture, as well as practices such as mindfulness, to slowly undo what has been learnt over a life time.

For women, understanding the effects of bullying and masculine culture is also important. Often women expect men to be as connected to their emotion as women are, and to be able to express their feelings as fluently as women can. Women often become hurt and react when men are not as forthcoming with their emotions as their female friends. What women often do not understand is the enormity of the experiences that some men have endured for them to shut down and disconnect from their feelings. One friend eloquently stated, “I spent my whole life stuffing down my emotions and now she wants me to open up and express how I feel!” To many men it must seem an absurd prospect to begin to feel what has been suppressed for as long as they can remember. So women need to be patient and encourage our men to feel without further judgement and criticism. And to the men who have experienced bullying and criticism from other men and masculine culture, it is important to step forward and learn to feel again for your own personal empowerment, quality of relationship with other safe men and women, and even for your health.

Questions for Men…

Have you felt confused about which feelings you are experiencing and wondered why?

Have you ever overcome the shut of feelings and allowed yourself to feel softer feelings without criticism or ridicule from yourself or others?

Click here to book your seat at Surfing the Waves of Emotion

A personal development course for men

 

 

How Men See Emotion

What am I Supposed to Feel?

In working with men in psychotherapy, I developed an awareness that many men look to others to know what they are supposed to feel. A number of men talked about lacking confidence in themselves to work out their own feelings. Others spoke about feeling less than adequate in expressing their feelings even when they do know how they felt. The way many men deal with this uncomfortable situation is to avoid conversations about emotions and allow women to monopolise discussions about feelings. Alternatively they may distract conversations about emotions to more tangible and concrete topics, such as the latest cars or boats. Even if the topics they are interested in are not so tangible, such as spirituality, society, and economics, they are still rational and mind orientated rather than emotionally orientated. This trend of men generally avoiding discussions about emotions, and feeling on the back foot when it comes to expressing emotion, is of little surprise given a range of influencing factors.

Boys are Found to Hide Their Emotion From an Early Age

One of these factors is that boys are often heavily socialised to hide their emotions from an early age. A psychological experiment aimed to test the difference between the felt experience of emotion and emotional expression in young boys. The psychologists got the boys to look at images that ranged from mundane to emotionally provocative. They then asked their mothers to watch them through a one way window and gauge how emotionally affected their son was by each image. At the same time the boys were monitored for their physiological arousal as they looked at the different images. This tested their emotional arousal for each image, to assess what they were feeling on the inside. What this experiment found was that there was a large difference between what their mothers perceived the boys were feeling and what the boys were actually feeling. The mothers generally underestimated the level of emotional arousal the boys were feeling.

This experiment demonstrates how genuinely difficult it could be for a lot of men to connect with their emotions and to understand what they are feeling within themselves. This is not because they are callous or insensitive, but rather because they are so heavily trained to hide their feelings. On top of that, there is also neurological evidence that men are wired differently from women, which could also influence the way they relate to their emotions.

Why Men Avoid Conversations about Emotions

Another dimension of some men’s uncomfortability with the topic of emotion, is that generally speaking, women find it easier to connect with their emotion and with emotional expression. There is a wealth of psychological evidence that indicates that men and women’s brains are wired differently.  An article published in “Psychology Today” on March 16, 2008 by Satoshi Kanazawa spoke about men generally having “systemizing” mind while women have “empathizing” minds. Here’s an extract from this article.

“The male brain is characterized by systemizing tendencies (to use Baron-Cohen’s term) and mechanistic thinking (to use Crespi and Badcock’s term). “Systemizing” is the drive to analyze, explore, and construct a system. The systemizer intuitively figures out how things work, or extracts the underlying rules that govern the behavior of a system. The purpose of this is to understand and predict the system, or to invent a new one.

In contrast, the female brain is characterized by empathizing tendencies (to use Baron-Cohen’s term) or mentalistic thinking (to use Crespi and Badcock’s term). “Empathizing” is the drive to identify another person’s emotions and thoughts, and to respond to them with an appropriate emotion. Empathizing occurs when we feel an appropriate emotional reaction in response to the other person’s emotions. The purpose of this is to understand another person, to predict his or her behavior, and to connect or resonate with him or her emotionally.”

So while men are generally better  systematic, rational thinkers, women are generally stronger on emotional thinking. This gender difference and the resulting dynamic between men and women in regards to their relationship with their emotions, could exacerbate men feeling inadequate on this topic. There have been some daunting messages that men have expressed receiving from women about emotions. Men spoke about being told that they do not express themselves emotionally, and when they do express their feelings, they are told that they are not feeling what they are “supposed” to feel.  Generally men report feeling ridiculed, criticised or demoralised when they do attempt to express feelings.

No wonder may men sense that it is easier to avoid conversations about emotions and focus on more mentally oriented topics. Talking about emotion can seem fraught with expectation that they are supposed to feel a certain way when they don’t. Men will not overcome their uncomfortable experiences with expressing emotion until there is a ‘safe zone’ for them to try without ridicule or judgement.

Questions for men…

Have there been times when you have wanted to walk away from discussions about emotions?

What circumstances would have made it more comfortable for you to talk about how you feel?

Click here to book your seat at Surfing the Waves of Emotion … A personal development course for men

 

Honouring Emotion & Healing Emotional Wounds

Throughout the series of previous blogs posts, I have looked at a range of different emotions and how they work, including anger, fear, sadness and happiness. There are a rage of different emotions and ‘emotional clusters’ (or conditions) that have their own energy, experience and reactions. These include rejection, abandonment, jealousy, shame, guilt and even love.  Today however I want to focus on the process of honouring and working through emotion.

The Process of Honouring Emotion

 

Emotions can be intense and we often do not know what to do with such emotional intensity, especially in times of distress or crisis. In Western culture we are taught that emotions are ‘lesser-than’ thought or the mind, and that they need to be contained or controlled. The problem with this type of thinking is that emotions act in similar ways as the ocean, weather patterns or the ecology, and cannot be controlled in the same way as we cannot control the other natural forces on this planet. So to honour an emotion is not to try to control or contain it.

Step 1: Remain Present with the Emotion

When we honour emotions we learn to remain present with them. As a therapist I often ask clients to feel into their bodies and feel any tension or emotion, and request that they identify the area of their body in tension and identify the type of emotion. Our natural reaction to pain is to resist it, avoid it or try to push it away. So I ask them to do the opposite and simply breathe into it. Using mindfulness practice is great for this stage of honouring emotion. There is a session in the “10 Days of Mindfulness Tips” that you can subscribe to on this website, that guides you thorough being present with your emotion. This subscription is free and includes seven meditation audios.

As we learn to remain present with the emotion without reacting to it, we learn several important skills. First, we learn to tolerate the intensity of it, this is great because the intensity often begins to diminish when we do not resist it or try to escape from it. Second, we learn to identify it and see it for what it is. This way we learn to see our demons rather than keep running from them. Finally, we learn that WE are not the emotion! We are really the observer who can witness our emotion. This is incredibly important. Learning to dis-identify from the emotion without resisting it, leads to an inner peacefulness and confidence that helps us to work effectively with emotion.

Step 2: Listen to the Emotion

In this step, the key is to know that emotion is NOT there for no reason. It has a purpose! It is trying to tell you something important. I believe at the core of all dis-ease and emotional pain is something evolutionary to our being. Emotion is simply trying to alert us to something that needs to be recognised, adjusted or changed. Given the lack of emotional safety in our society, we hold emotional wounding because we were not allowed to listen to it, acknowledge it or act on it. As children, our emotions do not lie. They are our guidance mechanism. While as adults we have often been so wounded that we are completely confused about our emotions, we did not begin that way at birth.

This is no one’s fault, as our parents and our parent’s parents had the same type of conditioning and wounding that resulted in our wounds. However, as adults with this awareness we can make a difference to our own lives and those generations that follow, by healing ourselves and learning to understand our adaptive emotions and heal our emotional wounds.

We can work out the difference between adaptive emotions and childhood wounding by feeling into our body and asking “what is the feeling?” and then “when was the first time I remember this feeling this way?” As we remain present with the emotions, breathe and allow memories, images or a ‘felt sense’ to emerge, we can start to identify what the wounding is about and how much of the currently felt emotion is adaptive. Often there are elements of both adaptive emotion and childhood wounding or patterns. Other indicators that can help differentiate between the two are the intensity of the emotion in respect to the current circumstance, and also if ‘a pattern’ of emotion, thought and action has repeated itself through your life. This is a theme that feels like a broken record.

For this stage of exploration of the emotional wound, therapy is a great option as we often need guidance through this journey of self-reflection. A good therapist will allow you to search your emotions safely and respectfully. If you do not feel comfortable with your therapist, find one you do feel comfortable with. This is your healing journey and safety and respect are paramount for your healing.

Step 3: Emotional Release and Action

The final stage is emotional release. If you need to cry, cry. If you need to express anger do it safely for yourself and others (and I don’t just mean physically safe but also emotionally safe for others). Anger loves exercise, physical movement and verbal expression. If you need to journal emotions do so, you can learn what they are saying to you. If you are scared, make sure you are physically safe and then meditate, practice relaxation or mindfulness. Fear wants you to be safe! As long as there is not an actual physical threat to your safety, you can build an inner-sense of safety to step forward in your life. Happiness tells you things are generally in alignment in your life.

Action to take from these emotions that are guiding you may include establishing safety in your life. Look at your relationships, work environment, habits and addictions. What would you like to change? Are you ready for that change… breathe… It is ok… When you are ready change will happen! Action could also be about establishing interpersonal boundaries with people who are (often) unintentionally dis-respecting or harming you. Action could be with yourself and your current life practices. Having listened to your emotions through an honouring process, the answer of what you need to do will generally become clearer. Again, this is where a trusted therapist could help.

Another option you have to learn how to honour your emotions is through workshops that focus on working with emotion. Conscious Solution presents the workshop “Surfing the Waves of Emotion” which creates a safe and respectful space within a group context, for learning important skills and strategies for honouring emotion rather than getting pulled out to sea or dumped by the waves.  Currently, these workshops are held in the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.

 

 

A journey through emotional wounds can be a harrowing one at first, but ultimately it is a rewarding one. Knowing how to master your emotional self is incredibly empowering! It can help you find your balance and your centre. It can help you know and honour your inner truth. It is the basis of navigating through the torrents of life.

When have you discovered important truths by listening to your emotions?

Click here to find out more about the “Surfing the Waves of Emotion” Workshop!

Anger as the Basis of Motivation and Personal Power

Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion!

Anger is a very misunderstood emotion in our culture. It is often seen as ‘strong’ or dangerous. Unfortunately the people who believe anger is strong and are prone to misusing anger through physical or verbal abuse, are often struggling with huge inner fears and are left feeling out of control and disempowered.  So in truth their anger weakens them. Those who believe anger is dangerous often believe that their feelings of anger should be avoided at all cost. Both of these positions are generally not helpful.

Anger is an emotion! This may seem obvious, but it is not. A lot of people think anger is an action, and usually a violent action. This can be heard in how people speak about anger.  It might be said, “He’s an angry person!” Well, actually he is probably a violent person with distorted beliefs about control. He would feel anger but that does not mean he has to act on it. It may also be said “my anger just got the better of me”. Again, this is also not true. An emotion does not justify an action. It could be said “she just doesn’t deal with her anger well”. Again, an emotion is being used to excuse behaviour.

Anger has never done anything! Anger is an emotion that in its adaptive form can be incredibly empowering and liberating. Anger demands that we face the truth about ourselves and our circumstances. Anger is there to protect us. Anger can be a fantastic motivating force. The key is knowing how to work with this powerful energy, and bring in reason when it comes to taking action.

The two common conditioned patterns that involve anger are either suppression or ‘the anger cycle’. I will demonstrate each of these patterns in two personal stories about anger.

Veronica and Sandy’s Stories: The Nice Pattern and the Anger Cycle

Veronica’s family always seemed nice until she learnt about the family pattern that kept her anger suppressed. She had always been a ‘nice’ other people and had learnt how important it was to put others first. This helped her to have some great friendships but when she began to date Harry, her ‘nice pattern’ became her biggest problem. Veronica did not feel anger, and when Harry started putting her down, disregarding what was important to her, not considering her needs and generally treating her like she was his slave or simply irrelevant, she began to regularly cry. At no point did she say “stop” or feel the anger necessary for self-preservation. Rather she began to believe it was all her problem and that there was something terribly wrong her. After a year, she felt deeply depressed and accessed professional help.

Sandy experienced the opposite to Veronica. She too thought there was something wrong with her because she was always angry, however she would not let anyone else know that. Sandy felt deeply frustrated because nothing ever seemed to go her way. Other people let her down constantly and when she confronted them, they would lie to her or just walk away. She was great at telling other people exactly what they were doing wrong, and how they could improve their behaviour. But she was deeply lonely and felt very alone.

Veronica and Sandy’s anger patterns are at opposite ends of the spectrum. They have different healing journeys to liberate each of them from their respective patterns.

After Veronica accessed a counselor who she felt safe with, she began to work through her ‘nice pattern’. She realised that while it is a virtue to generally be kind to other people, being too nice is when you cannot feel anger when it is appropriate to feel it, and you do not protect yourself from real harm (either emotionally or physically). Veronica had to learn how to value herself and what is important to her, to begin to feel legitimate and start to feel anger. As she began to breathe, relax and allow the feelings of anger in her body without automatically pushing them away or swallowing them, she began to learn how to safely feel and express her anger.

Sandy also sort help for her loneliness and how to cope with other people’s issues. Bit by bit Sandy learnt to challenge some of her own beliefs about right and wrong, and began to see the world was not so black and white. Slowly she began to see that her judgments of other people were pushing them away and sabotaging closeness in her relationships. Beliefs of entitlement and criticism had constantly fed her anger which kept it inflamed. After a while she also discovered that underneath the anger cycle was deep sadness, an emotion which she had not let herself feel for a very long time.

For both Veronica and Sandy, learning safe ways to express their anger was a vital part of their healing. Anger wants physical and verbal expression. So safe anger release is when we find space to be on our own and allow ourselves to express the anger. This expression also needs to be safe to ourselves. Angry writing, art, dance, exercise, drumming or music or hitting cushions or a punching bag are all fine.

Safe Anger Release & Healthy Adaptive Action

When I feel anger, I drive to a secluded look out, stop the car and put on music. I then pretend the person is sitting next to me and I let them have it. I say whatever I need to for as long as I need to.  I know most of what I say is simply anger expressing itself and is not actually true… but I need to hear it because the anger will ultimately tell me the truth. In fact anger will not let go until we hear the truth!!! I might start to yell at my partner, then my parents and then myself.. .. .. And then the anger shifts!

When I hit on the truth of why I am really angry, anger transmutes into sadness or laughter. Anger is a secondary emotion to hurt, so when I hear why I am really hurt, the anger is released. Once anger is released then I need to step back and look at what I need to do with my truth in a more rational way. I might need to strengthen my boundaries with some people, or perhaps I need to openly communicate something to someone. Maybe I need to re-evaluate a friendship. Whatever I need to do in terms of the action, I have let myself safely feel the anger and listened to its underlying message. This is the process of ‘honoring anger’ in a way that channels the emotion into motivation and personal power. Learning to safely work with our anger enhances personal power with respect to ourselves and others.

Have you become stuck in your anger?

Were you able to channel your anger in ways that protected you or empowered you?

 

 

[Note. All stories used in this blog are fictional characters based on the wisdom I gain from working with clients. No character in this blog is an actual person or a client]

Remember Who You Are!

Breaking Free From The Pain Of Having Your Emotions Dismissed & Finding Your Truth

Have you ever experienced a time when you were really interested in, or passionate about something but as you spoke about it to another person, they dismissed it as trivial or irrelevant? Perhaps you were talking about how you felt about something important to you and it was demolished by the other person? If you can relate, then you will know what I am talking about in this blog…

When Our Emotions Are Dismissed

When someone dismisses or fails to see the significance of how you feel about something important to you, it is not unusual to feel deeply sad or angry. It is even more insidious if we continuously experience this reaction as we are growing up throughout childhood. It is “insidious” because we still experience the emotions associated with being dismissed as adults, but we have often forgotten the actual memories and therefore do not understand why we feel the way we do. This leads to what is called “shaming”, and eventually results in low self-esteem and self-worth.

There are three levels of having emotions dismissed that I will discuss. They are the ‘adaptive response’, the ‘childhood emotional wound’ and the ‘identity’ associated with having your emotions dismissed over a prolonged period of time.

 

Adaptive Emotional Response to Dismissed Emotions

The first level is the adaptive response to shaming emotions which a healthy and balanced adult may have when they experience this boundary violation. By ‘boundary violation’ I am referring to having something important being dismissed. The hurt, anger and/or sadness resulting from this experience are actually telling us that this treatment is not OK. The other person may be unaware of their boundary violation and unintentionally hurt the other, therefore it is important to communicate assertively. Communication which is compassionate, understanding and assertive can lead to positive learning for other people. Ultimately, this aims to be empowering for both parties. So this is an example of adaptive emotions at work and how we can respond to our emotions in ways that open up learning opportunities and mutual respect. The emotions, sadness, hurt and anger are felt and are appropriate and proportional to the event, and yet the person choses how to best respond because they are aware of their feelings and actions.

Childhood Wounding of Dismissed Emotion

The second layer is emotional wounding from childhood experiences of having emotions dismissed, misunderstood, ignored or trivialised. This layer is difficult to work through because as I said earlier, conscious awareness associated with the emotional reaction is rarely present, and the exposure to this treatment is often prolonged. This will result in the development of unconscious patterns (of thinking, feeling and acting) with a real emotional need at its core. To heal this layer will require some inner-work to increase awareness, compassion and understanding for everyone involved.

As we look deeper into this layer, we often discover parental shaming, or a significant other dismissing a child’s emotional needs. Western society has traditionally been largely inept at promoting emotional safety, therefore this is not uncommon. It is not about blaming parents or earlier generations, but rather acknowledging the wounding within while understanding that significant others did the best they could with what they knew. Of course this can be difficult if there has been active child abuse on top of the neglect, however this is outside the scope of this blog. Please seek trusted therapeutic assistance if you are worried about powerful emotions resulting from child abuse. In a nut shell, often our parents’ generation and generations before them, simply did not know about the damaging effects of dismissing emotional needs. And it is highly likely that they did not have their emotional needs met either. Our job with this information is to increase our self-awareness, to heal ourselves on the inside and to learn new skills that honour emotions and personal boundaries.

Dismissing Our Own Emotional Needs

The third and most insidious layer of dismissing emotions is when we learn to treat ourselves this way. I call it “insidious” because it is hard to see. Our relationship with ourselves becomes toxic when we learn to dismiss our own adaptive emotions.

Our adaptive emotions are our guidance mechanism system. They will indicate what is safe and what is dangerous or a violation to our body, mind or soul. It is only through disconnection from our natural emotional balance that we could possibly put toxins into our bodies, or use substances to obliterate ourselves, or stay in destructive interpersonal relationships. It is easy to begin to see just how out of whack our emotional guidance is when we look at Western Society. That horror and action movies are best sellers says something! That drug and alcohol use is so high says something! That approximately 30% of intimate relationships in this country experience violence says something! Our emotional guidance mechanism system has become largely useless because we simply do not know how to use it. Instead we have learnt to doubt ourselves, dismiss our deeply held body wisdom and personal truths, and base our decisions on rational thinking. We have forgotten who we are!

Over the next four blogs I will share some stories that demonstrate the process of coming into emotional awareness from childhood wounding and conditioned patterns. In these stories, I will focus on the emotions of anger, guilt, fear and sadness. Following those blogs, I will then begin to look at healing solutions for emotional wounds and how to reconnect with healthy adaptive emotions.

What has helped you to recover from having your emotions dismissed?