As a therapist, it may seem obvious that I encounter a broad spectrum of emotions from a diverse set of people. As I’ve engaged my international practice over the past year, I’m starting to see that while each individual’s experience is unique, emotional patterns and family systems are quite archetypal around the world.
It is also universal that those of us who have the luxury of a first world lifestyle often strive to escape or avoid our unpleasant emotional experiences. There are lots of reasons for this, and most of them are subconscious patterns from your childhood or family system. Let’s take a look at some of these reasons, and then see if it’s possible to grant yourself permission to allow the emotions to move through your life so that you can move forward with freedom. Here are some of the most common reasons we avoid feeling our emotions.
1.You were taught that your emotions are too difficult for other people in your life to handle.
Usually, this involves overwhelmed parents (which most parents are AT LEAST some of the time). When you throw a fit as a toddler, what you really need is patience, lots of LOVE and the knowledge that you are safe, it’s okay and your caretaker is going to help you deal with your overwhelming emotion. If your caretaker was unable to meet your needs there (as many caretakers are), you might have learned subconsciously to suppress or avoid your deep emotions to keep the peace. I can promise you, this is no longer serving you, and may even be causing self-destructive or addictive behavior.
2. Fear. You may fear the emotional pain if you weren’t taught emotional resilience.
You may also fear that the emotion is so big that it’s going to swallow you up, spit you out on the floor, and leave you there to suffer endlessly. You may fear that others will perceive you as weak when you show vulnerability. You may fear finding out that your true desires don’t match your current life, and to make your life match you need to make big changes. There are very specific ways in which parents can teach emotional resilience, and if your parents didn’t know how (again, as many don’t), big emotions can be a scary thing to face.
3. Trauma. If you experienced any type of abuse growing up, it’s likely that you learned to dissociate from your emotions.
Dissociation is a function of protection for a developing brain. When you’re young, you don’t have all of the parts of the brain you need to process traumatic experiences, so your mind leaves the scene to keep you from going crazy or your body from literally dying from the stress. We should be very grateful to have this function, and yet, in adulthood when the trauma is gone, you no longer need to dissociate from emotions. If you have trauma to work through, it’s best to find a therapist and a therapeutic modality that suits you. Most therapists would be happy to consult with you if you don’t know where to start.
4. Managing the Stress of Personal Growth.
While this is a very common reason people avoid emotions, it doesn’t seem to be as obvious. The stress of personal growth can be described as the fear or avoidance of changing the things in your life that keep you from growing. For a lot of people, this means big changes like ending a significant relationship or totally changing a career path. Your emotional intuition is one of the best indicators of things in your life that you may have outgrown, and paying attention to emotions sometimes means making difficult changes in order to better align with yourself. But you’re worth it, I promise.
If any of these emotional avoidance triggers rings true in your life, I highly encourage you to consider the cost of continuing to try to manage your emotions without truly feeling them. I also encourage you to consider that feeling emotions allows them to pass, and eventually it becomes easier. A great relationship with a good therapist is a wonderful place to start.
Erin Amundson loves helping people reconnect to their natural technology by decoding the language of dreams. She is a healer, a depth psychologist and an entrepreneur who specializes in teaching people how to identify and remove barriers to success and make friends with their subconscious mind. As the creator and founder of Natural Dream Technology, Erin knows that hidden beneath the surface of your conscious mind is a uniquely talented visionary, and she wants the world to benefit from your contribution.
After several fights with her own subconscious mind (and a re-occurring nightmare about skipping classes and failing), Erin finally surrendered and followed the wisdom of her natural technology to get a second graduate degree in Counseling at Regis University. A life-long follower of dreams, Erin now began to learn the language of the subconscious as she slept. Just as Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and Steven Spielberg all experienced, Erin began to recognize in her dreams that her best work is to help you reclaim your connection to your own natural technology through dreams and the subconscious. She has been teaching, facilitating and engaging in dream work with ambitious professionals ever since.
Erin currently practices as a depth psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado and via the internet around the world. In addition to her dream work, Erin is a certified past life regressionist, an intuitive astrologer and a lover of travel, snowboarding, deep conversations and cooking delicious food, all of which she enjoys practicing while she sleeps.