Emotional healing is about becoming whole. We have lost touch with the experience of wholeness through the suppression of incomplete emotional experiences. Our emotions are a great source of personal power and energy, they provide us with a wisdom that assists us in knowing what we want, and what is right for us. The sad fact is that we live in a culture that shames the expression of emotion and teaches denial invalidation and suppression.
In shutting down we begin to fragment our being. We lose touch with our sense of who we are, our essence. We become stiff, rigid and ‘frozen’ in our physical body, ways of thinking and expressing our selves. We lose our sense of aliveness, creativity, spontaneity and freedom. As we shut down on one emotion, say anger, we lose our capacity to feel all of them – including joy, peace and love.
There are many reasons for the suppression of emotions: Sometimes the intensity experienced has been too much for us to integrate at the time, for example a child in birth can be overwhelmed by the intensity of fear, sadness or anger. In this case the brain sets up ‘gates’ which limit the intensity of feeling possible at the time.
We have been trained to suppress emotion. We are told that children should be ‘seen and not heard’, ‘not to answer back’, ‘to do what we are told’ and to ‘be polite’. In our culture we up hold the false image that being strong means not being emotional; not crying at funerals, not getting angry…
Shame is another reason for not expressing emotions. We may have been told that we were ‘being emotional’, ‘too sensitive’ or laughed at when we were angry, scared or sad. Often boys are called wimps, weaklings, or babies if they cry, and chickens or scaredy cats if they are afraid and girls are called bitches, nasty or catty if they express their anger.The suppression of emotions was often necessary to avoid experiencing more pain. This is true for most children being reprimanded. If they express their anger about being hurt they would most likely be punished more severely.
We may be blocked to natural feeling responses by beliefs or philosophies that we carry about ourselves or life. For instance; a person who is being abused may not feel angry about the abuse because they subconsciously believe that they deserve that kind of treatment: it fits with their self image created in their abusive childhood. Somebody else may not feel angry when they are being abused because they were taught to ‘turn the other cheek’, ‘to be bigger than that’, or ‘to rise above it’.
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