A Desire to Control Doesn't Make the World Predictable
Growing up in an unpredictable, unsafe, and chaotic home environment leaves behind long-lasting scars that manifest in a pattern of sensation, feeling, and behavior. They are emotional imprints that shape the foundational core of an individual's being. The turbulence experienced during formative years create a complex web of emotional responses that linger far into adulthood. It's like living in an ongoing state of survival.
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The intensity of emotional trauma responses have a circular way of operating. They are like an ever evolving carousel of feelings, sensations and thoughts, these play out in an ongoing feedback loop. If the environment was so chaotic it leaves one with the desire to control one's feelings, deny or bottle them up. Trauma survivors often find themselves avoiding triggers or reminders of the traumatic event again, caused by out of control feelings. Emotions have a movement like waves in the ocean that is our internal environment, rising and moving with an intensity that sometimes can feel overwhelming. Yet, we often find ourselves yearning for a sense of control over these ever-changing currents. Emotions are sensations in the body, they are energy in motion.
The Emotional Rollercoaster:
As human beings, our emotions are colored lenses that influence our experiences. From moments of profound joy to waves of sadness or anxiety, our emotions are an integral part of being alive. Yet, when faced with intense feelings, we may attempt to suppress or control them, fearing their unpredictability. Suppressing or bottling up of emotions pushes them all down, joy, fear, anger, happiness are all equally included in the mix. Primary consciousness does not know how to separate these energies. Thinking or planning to "get rid" of emotions is futile, when a big tsunami of energies is released, or when the bottle of emotions pop the cork we are then at the mercy of these energies.
Primary consciousness is impartial. Its only biological imperative is survival at all costs. It is not concerned with comfort, income, race, or gender. It also does not know the difference between past present or future. The present is timeless. When disturbing emotions are triggered, secondary consciousness or logical mind looks to interpret or translate the sensation, creating a story. However primary consciousness although highly intelligent, it is also highly illogical. It has no access to logic! Logical mind then interprets and creates a story that, as primary mind does, is illogical. Strong emotions have a way to blind one's perspective, that makes it difficult to be impartial or objective. It is survival time, time to run away from threat! Even to the extent of creating the story that one can control the future or an outcome of any given situation. We believe that by controlling our emotions, we can maintain a sense of stability and control over anything outside of one's body. We might criticize ourselves for feeling too much or too little, seeking to fit our emotional landscape into a neatly organized box. This control may also been adopted as a pattern of invalidation learned from our environment or caretakers. It is chaotic!
The Illusion of Emotional Control:
Just like the illusion of control in other aspects of life, the desire to control our emotions can be misleading. Emotions are not meant to be tightly reined in or denied. They are messages from our inner selves, alerting us of an internal issue related to a past experience.
Instead of bottling up emotions, cultivate awareness. Acknowledging that emotions are a natural part of our human experience, facilitates a path of healing. Where there is awareness there is healing. Awareness gives way to exploration of one's internal environment and its energies, a bit of curiosity and gentleness goes a long way.
Curiosity and interest dispels judgement. Each emotion is valid and carries valuable insights. Letting go of self-criticism, liberates oneself from unnecessary emotional burdens.
Embracing emotions means embracing vulnerability—the courage to feel deeply and authentically. I know this sounds difficult, however the ongoing practice of feeling discomfort strengthens one's internal muscle for increasing one's window of tolerance. I don't really believe in the old psychology of staying inside the window of tolerance. Where there is discomfort there is growth, comfort gives no way to growth. Vulnerability is strength and opens us up to authentic connections and strengthens our emotional resilience.
Just like waves in the ocean, emotions rise and fall. Instead of trying to control them, we can learn to ride the waves, allowing ourselves to experience the full spectrum of emotions. By doing so, we develop emotional flexibility and the ability to navigate life's challenges with grace. Our emotions are not meant to be tamed or suppressed. They are messages that connect us to our inner selves and the world around us. Embracing the ebb and flow of emotions leads us to profound growth and transformation.
Releasing the illusion of emotional control and instead diving deeply into the ocean of feelings and primary consciousness has a great degree of value. It is connecting to one's humanity.
In the words of psychologist Rollo May, "The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it is conformity. By daring to be different, we awaken the dormant beauty within us. We celebrate the diversity and uniqueness that makes us who we are."