Let’s take a look at the emotions and relating. This will be a five part article series with each article taking a deeper examination into each of the primary emotions and their fixed counterparts. Enjoy!
In my recent article on communication I assert that the problem is not with communicating but rather with relating. There are five core emotions I am most interested in: Grief/sadness, fear, anger, love, and envy. These feelings are our primary or natural responses to any trigger provoked from the outside world. These feelings are universal in that we all experience them the same way. The same things may not bring them on but they are all experienced in the same way. How I feel sad is the same way that someone else feels sad. Emotions are “passing through energies.” They are here to come up and pass through.
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If we examine grief/sadness, it is the emotion that naturally arises when we lose something we are not ready to let go of. That could be a pacifier for a baby, a friend that moves away, a lost stuffed animal, a broken relationship, loss of our health, the loss of job, the loss of money, the death of a loved one, the loss of someone’s approval and or recognition, the loss of a friend etc. If as children we were allowed to experience and express our sadness, we would have learned our sadness was normal and okay. We would have developed no fear or shame around our feeling of sadness. When children are validated in their sadness, heard, loved and understood they become so comfortable with this emotion they learn to move through it quickly and efficiently as adults. They would see it as something that is to be expelled, expressed and let go. Sadness would be viewed as a naturally occurring experience and that all is well even when feeling sad.
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However, most of us as children were told not to cry. We got the following messages “to cry over that is silly,” “that is nothing to be sad about,” “be quiet can’t you see that other people can hear you?” “don’t make a scene,” and we get the message throughout our lives that our sadness is a burden and/or annoying. What I have found is the people who most reject my sadness are the ones who created it in the first place. When someone creates a negative response within me from something they have provoked, I have found they are the most annoyed by sadness response. My sadness may cause them to take some responsibility for the reaction they helped to create. Thus, most sadness goes invalidated by those closest to us.
I cannot tell you how many people in my office will apologize before they cry, as if it something so shameful, unnatural and embarrassing to be doing. All I can assume is they were taught their sadness was shameful and embarrassing. In their attempts to “get over” their sadnesses, they learned to repress it. To repress something means to keep it in, not allow it its expression, or to hold onto it. For many, sadness is a sign of weakness. As we repress the emotion of sadness it does something very dangerous to us. Repressed sadness turns into chronic depression.