This may be a difficult statement to believe, emotional resilience, emotional development and anger management are all pretty much the same. They all have similar outcomes albeit that people may be drawn to them for different reasons. Some need to move towards resilience and development whereas others need to move away from anger.
What they all have in common is that they have a central need to understand, deal with and be able to exist with uncomfortable feelings. What a large number of the people we work with have in common is that they have ceased to acknowledge and allow to exist, the feelings that we are hard wired with and that are in abundant use in our lives every day.
Classically our clients may acknowledge that they have stopped expressing how they feel, or that they mask how they feel. Others may state that they are not sure that they know how they feel and express that they feel “numb.” Others will say that they know how they feel but are afraid to express their inner feelings for fear of others reactions or their own.
In our experience this comes from a number of central issues. The first is, in my opinion, one of the most serious of human conditions in this day and age; That being our desire to ignore, deny, suppress and repress uncomfortable feelings.
There are 6 core essential and true feelings that we as humans are programmed to be able experience when we come into this world. They are anger, fear, sadness, shame, hurt and happiness. Most observers immediately note there is only one “positive” feeling. This is true. Simply because we only need one. The others have all grown as we have evolved in order to protect us from danger or perceived danger.
The key to this is that they are part of being human yet we try to deny this essential part of our humanity.
So many of our clients are in the habit of throwing uncomfortable feelings to the back of their mind in the hope that they will disappear. They won’t. Feelings that are not acknowledged and allowed the airtime they need will fester. As C.G. Jung said “what you resist persists.”
The problem with uncomfortable feelings is that they stay in the background and continue to make you feel uncomfortable. If that was the end of the story we would either do something about it or just remain in a state of discomfort. Actually we do take action but it’s not always healthy.
We develop coping mechanisms. They may be ways of cheering ourselves up such as shopping or spending time with friend in order to “cheer ourselves up.” We may decide to have a drink in order to relax or work in order to take our minds off the issues we are afraid of. All these sound perfectly innocent and reasonable but taken too far and they can be really unhealthy.
In many cases these coping mechanisms lead to addictions. Addictions of any nature need to be avoided.
So why do we avoid acknowledging painful or uncomfortable feelings?
There are many reasons but common ones are –
- Admitting to being scared, hurt or sad can be seen as a sign of weakness
- When we admit our feelings openly, others feel their role is to own those feelings for us and feel they that should rescue us.
- We don’t like the idea of not being in control of our feelings. Feeling out of control is not the done thing.
- We may have been brought up to understand that feelings are not important and especially that our own feelings are not important.
So what can we do? We can start a process of allowing the full range of our feelings to exist within us. We can start understanding that it’s ok and normal to feel sad, hurt, shameful, angry and scared. Allowing these feelings is healthy. Deny and repressing them is unhealthy.
The simple truth is that if we do not learn to exist with our uncomfortable feelings and accept them for what they are….feelings that come and go….we get to a time in our lives where they catch up with us. If you are really unlucky you may end up in a workshop, unravelling the issues of the last 20 years with someone like me.