"Pain is inevitable. Suffering is Optional"-Haruki Murakami Have you ever avoided feeling a painful emotion out of fear that you would die? You may initially say, "Well no, logically I haven't feared I would die because of something I felt."
However, if you take a moment to really think about it, you will likely be able to connect with that part of you~your "vulnerable child"~ that is actually afraid that if you feel similar emotions related to your childhood, you will actually die. It is just too painful, right?
As children, many of us were faced with situations that were simply too enormous to mentally handle. Thus, many people do what they can to forget about the painful moments, specifically drugs, alcohol, other substances or processes (sex, over eating, debting) in order to avoid feeling the painful emotions they originally felt.
Our current relationship dynamics remind us of our past experiences; thus our past emotions. We hold trauma in our cells (note: what is traumatic for one person may not be for another). If we grow up and have not resolved our past, we will literally replay and relive it in our current relationships. We may be older, look different, and have more wisdom, but the emotions stuck in our body will continue to rear their head until we address them.
What if you were to embrace your pain? What if you allowed yourself to fully embrace what you are feeling; you surrendered to it? What if you said to yourself, "I can let myself feel any emotion that I choose?" What might happen? Take it a step further, what if you were to express your pain?
Some of you may say, I can't…I fear the emotional consequences if I feel or express what I feel(Deepak Chopra, 1997, p. 175). This is often the "protective" part of you that thinks it is protecting you but really isn't. For many, this part is their addict talking.
Consider what the emotional consequences will occur if you allow yourself to feel your pain and share it with your loved one? Take a minute and mentally list the possible consequences. Now take it a step further: Ask yourself, "What are the actual emotional consequences if I don't feel my pain fully and if I continue to avoid sharing it with my spouse or loved one?" Mentally list the actual emotional and physical consequence if you are not authentic with feeling and sharing your emotions.
The reality is that you can and will survive ANY emotion. After all, you have already experienced what you consider to be too much to handle.
"…whatever you consider to be too much fear, too much loss, too much humiliation, disapproval, too much rejection has already happened" ~Deepak Chopra
The past is over. Can you let it stay there? Painful emotions that continue to arise are beautiful gifts. They remind us that we have been pushing them away and therefore need to deal with them once and for all.
The illusion that someone or something outside of us keeps us feeling our emotions is not true. What we are now holding onto is of our own choosing. Choose differently if you want to feel differently.
Tonight, tomorrow, the rest of this week, and on an on-going basis, I invite you to let yourself feel whatever it is you are feeling.
Practice the following (adapted from The Path to Love, Chopra, 1997, p. 177):
- Ask your emotion what it has to tell you or tell it you want to take a deeper look at it
- Write down what you are feeling and what part of you it is coming from (vulnerable child, protective addict or avoidant, or your true, functional self)
- If certain situations continue to trigger the same emotion, ask yourself what it is that you need to learn in order to change
- Talk through it in therapy or with a safe person (especially if the emotions are really strong and intense)
- Find a healthy way to share it with your spouse or loved one. Doing this will free yourself up to embrace the many gifts that emotions have to offer you.
You are always SO worth it!
*Join Jenny Jo Tuttle, LCSW, CSAT-S, an expert in treating individuals, partners and couples with intimacy disorders and multiple addictions as she facilitates our monthly Relationship Recovery Skills Class Tuesday, 5/26/14 from 6-7:30 p.m. $45 per person/$65 per couple. RSVP firstname.lastname@example.org.