Thursday, September 06, 2012

Neglecting My Feelings - A Lesson Learned

Blanking Out - Suppressing Emotions
Today at work I noticed spikes in my emotions at a few crucial moments, but I did not consciously deal with a trending pattern of anxiety build up which was steadily rising throughout the day.  In fact, I did not truly connect with the magnitude of my emotions or my self-detachment from what I was feeling until it was pointed out by my partner Sharon as we car pooled home from the Walt Disney World Resort.

While continuing to chart the depths of my unexplored emotional past and present, I have been surfacing parts of my history which have lay hidden and fogged for long periods of time.  This process is revealing an exciting, charged surge of emotions and understanding, which is allowing me to make connections from my past to my present as well as from my logical mind to my emotion expressing subconscious.

I have struck a pressurized emotion deposit which once struck, now gushes to the surface, excited to be seen and heard. While this is fun and exciting to explore with the help of websites, podcasts, and most of all Sharon's help; I now realize that this emotional openness is a state I am not accustomed to which leaves me vulnerable to emotional build ups at the office.

A Day of Escalation

This morning, I triggered deep seated emotions of fear, anger, and contempt after listening to a couple's relationship conversation on FDR.  The discussion on the podcast was covering parental hypocrisy and maltreatment in the history of the male caller.  At that time emotions started to bubbled up from the ground as I flashed back to things in my past.  My solution, rather automatically, was to put the emotions from my conscious mind and go about my morning.

This was not productive.  When any of us pushes emotions from our minds, they do not go away.  They fester just below the surface waiting to gain strength and come at us again until we process what they have to say.  As the day went on my emotions built up their power by latching on to events that could be corralled into the historic construct of the emotion:

A Discussion of Managing Anxiety by Controlling Others Behavior
Parents feel anxiety when their child opens the car door a small bit while moving (and safely bucked in).   To avoid this pain, they simply lock out the door handle, controlling the behavior of the child's exciting exploration of their world, but allowing the parents to avoid the negative feeling.

Confrontation Over Accurately Wording Questions (Assumptions)
A coworker asks "who will do x".  In my experience I did not understand to what subset of people "who" applied.  When I asked, I was accused of arguing semantics.  My experience of this was that it was expected that I know what was being assumed, simply because the other person assumed it in their head.

Pizza does not feed the soul.
Working Through Lunch
Free pizza is nice, and takes care of our physical lunch needs, but we have been trained to ignore the internal MEcosystem reason for lunch: to detach from work, take a break, and re-baseline yourself for the afternoon.

Loosing Significant Work Posting a Blog Article
After 20 minutes of work carefully cutting and pasting parts of a long blog post to provide a summary for my readers, Blogger's editor lost half of my work.

A Build Up of Assignments
I take pride at keeping myself organized at the office and on the go.  I use Microsoft OneNote, Outlook, and Samsung S Note to keep on top of my assignments.  Today, I felt like my assignments were just beyond my grasp.  This feeling was not rational, as I accomplished plenty today, but the thoughts of inadequacy persisted.

Expressing My Dissatisfaction with My Actions / Dismissal
Lastly I expressed my unhappiness with how I had handled my emotions recently especially with how I had treated a coworker.  That coworker, with nothing but positive intentions, told me not to worry, I would change as I got older.  While this is meant to be reassuring, it provided no map for how the change would happen, and showed no empathy with the experience I was having now.

The Aftermath

Sharon was able to see that I was experiencing something significant even though the intensity of my feelings were hidden from me.  She recognized that I was being unusually quiet in the car when I picked her up.  (I am far from quiet normally.)  Even more interesting, I was not very effective in answering the question, "Is something wrong?"  For the ride home I kept trying to talk back through my day, but it was slow going.

I love my Spring Float Recliner!
After the fact, I was able to see that in trying to figure out what I was feeling, I started by telling her about my least impactful moments of my day. I noticed that my mind strayed around the events that had the deepest emotional impact.  I was not comfortable enough to get all the way back to the beginning emotion of the podcast, until I was comfortably sitting on a pool float in our backyard oasis.

Most of my life I have been both trained and rewarded to avoid directly experiencing my deep emotions.  I practiced detaching from my feelings and keep them in a cold freezer at the back of my mind.  This would get me through the day but would explode in my off times resulting in gushing tears and crippling anger as a child and young adult.

As I shunned my emotions, I also shut out my capacity for empathy.  Since I was not close to myself, I could not conceive of being close to others. With the new found tools of philosophy, self-knowledge, freedom, and action, I am now taking on the task of rebuilding my emotional apparatus.  In turn, my relationships are strengthening and I am finding the power to stand up for the values I have always held, but only recently consciously identified.

I am definitely feeling the shakiness of years of disuse, but I am not ashamed, and not afraid.  I have great mentors, and a community of supportive individuals, and the raw power of my sharply honest and deeply loving partner.  I am excited to take each step forward.


This blog post was very personal to me.  Do you have anything personal you would like to let out for some air?  How would you feel if you did?

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