June 2, 2019 at 6:24 pm #297119
Thank you 🙂 It is really cool to connect with someone who is also learning and working through it.
I am glad you mentioned emotional intelligence. Sometimes I forget that I have the power to create my emotions. For example, when I did acting/improvisational theater, I would imagine what the character would feel and then empathetically connect with myself on a situation that has made me feel similar and tap into that expression. I think similarly whichever body position/facial expression I display I tend to become internally, however, not always. I often wonder if a strong sense of humor helps with invoking a desired emotion so I like to be silly and I have a weird phrase I say sometimes when my day has turned downward, “not today satan!” however I feel like it is easier to laugh when you are with another laughing. It is almost instinctual. I use to absorb others emotions (I don’t know if that makes any sense) where if I was around people happy it would rub off on me or if I was around someone who was really sad I would feel sad too. I don’t know if you have heard of mirror neurons? I wonder if that mechanism is what gives us empathyJune 2, 2019 at 6:41 pm #297129
I will read and reply when I am back in about 11 hours from now.
anitaJune 3, 2019 at 7:05 am #297145
“when I did acting/ improvisational theater, I would imagine what the character would feel and then empathetically connect with myself on a situation that has made me feel similar and tap into that expression”- we humans are of one species, so we share the same emotions (we share them with other social animals as well). This is why it is easy to feel what another person feels, in real life or in the theater, because we all feel the same feelings at different times and at different situations. You don’t really “create (your) emotions”, you access the emotions that are already there.
“whichever body position/ facial expression I display I ten to become internally”- to connect with anger that is already there, making an angry facial expression will bring anger to our awareness and we will feel it. Same with smiling, that tends to bring affection to our awareness. When you see someone you like in your presence expressing affection toward you, it brings your own affection to your awareness, and you feel it toward that person as well.
All social animals “absorb others’ emotions”, are designed through nature and evolution to be aware of what others feel, so that we can approach them (if they feel affection toward us), stay away from them (if they feel anger toward us), join them in the search of food (if they feel hungry like us), fight with them against a common enemy, if they feel fear like us, and so forth.
anitaJune 4, 2019 at 1:58 pm #297387
So to summarize, what you are saying is that we all have access to all of our emotions that we can bring to the forefront of our consciousness…so in some ways emotions are like synonymous with memories? Reminds me of the Maya Angelou quote: “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel”
I don’t know if you are familiar with hypnosis but I try guided self-hypnosis before I go to sleep to change the way I react to my emotional cues. Sometimes the messaging sinks deep into my mind and the most helpful rerouting behavior is the sentence I repeat to myself, “The moment I start to tense/worry it is a signal that it is time to relax deeper in order to address the situation” and I practice this over and over until deep breathing becomes an automatic reaction to stress is ultimate goal.
The strangest thing about my emotions, and maybe others can relate to this, is when I see something absolutely beautiful I cry. If I see a street performer being brave to perform their art I can’t help but tear up. It mostly occurs when I see someone being brave, it is so beautiful to me that I think it connects to my sense of feeling alive. However, there is another side to this where if I see someone with qualities that I don’t like about myself or that I lack (like people having a group of friends, or feeling safe enough to go to places by oneself, or having the ability to articulate ones thoughts without appearing anxious) I feel bitter. I try to use this bitterness to show where I want to grow rather than blaming something or myself.
Blaming myself is the deepest route of anger I have developed. It is very hard for me to be angry at someone but I noticed it is possible for me to get irritated. What I mean by this is if someone or something mistreats me it is my fault. I use to instinctively squeeze my arms when I was a waitress hard enough to leave bruises when I was facing the consequences of my mistakes. I find myself biting my lip in class when I feel lost. It is like the anger I feel towards myself is temporally released. I am becoming more aware of myself and I don’t do this automatic reaction of self harm anymore, I squeeze my rings or necklace instead.
Growing up school and my imagination has always been my sanctuary. One day, when my mom and I had a physical altercation in the morning, she told me I was too fragile to go to school. There were other times when I wasn’t allowed to go to school for punishment and I stayed home to install insulation in my house ( I was about 14 at the time). I stayed home to help build my first own room in the basement (previously shared rooms with siblings). I remember thinking to myself during that time I just need to wait until I am 18 and I can leave and be free. It was a way to soothe myself that this wasn’t a permanent situation (I only lived with my mother a few years at a time due to her struggle with addictions and the law). My mother would tell me I was lying when I wasn’t, blamed me for breaking things that I didn’t break, and told me to stop being friends with the people I grew close to because she didn’t like there parents and/or thought I was getting drunk with them. We would spend hours and sometimes weeks fighting where I would try as many different conversation angles to get her to understand my innocence. After all of theses conversations I felt immense guilt constantly. I would read a book a day (literally any free second I had to think I had my face in a book) to try to escape these feelings of guilt. I tried cleansing myself and admitting to my mom anything I could of possibly done wrong like the one time I didn’t wash my retainer or something. Each time I admitted something to my mom she was always understanding and patient. The guilt never went away though and even though I turned 18 I am the one who is punishing myself now.
I documented everything I did and felt yesterday to give myself a chance to be more mindful and make healthier choices. It really helped! So much so I went to class today even though my face was burning with shame for not attending previous courses and my professor was so kind to me. I drove home cycling through the voices in my head to “see if you just went to class and did what you are suppose to life would be easier” to ” it isn’t too late you have a chance and it is going to be ok”
My grit with school started to slip when I ended contact with my mother and I am not sure if there is a connection but when I was ending my relationship with that ex friend who betrayed me, my friend told me, “Your mom is right, you are an idiot”
Previously, I confided in my ex friend about what self doubt was getting in my way as classes became more difficult. My mom use to tell me I was too stupid to learn how to cook. I was too stupid to learn how to drive. When I told her I was moving away she told me I would be homeless and broke. I have used this negative messaging as motivation for revenge. Revenge to show that I am not stupid I will prove you wrong!
I always thought my mom didn’t know what she was doing and tried to find some sliver of hope she loved me. But I think she knew very well what she was doing to me was cruel otherwise it wouldn’t of been hidden and she wouldn’t try to humiliate me. My most painful memory is when she made me take off my shirt in front of her boyfriend because she thought I was trying to dress like a slut ( I had a tshirt on with an old hand me down bra from a cousin that didn’t fit right) and told me “Do you want men to look at you? Well this is what it is like”. She laughed at me when I swallowed the soap she put in my mouth. Now I can feel a little bit of anger that isn’t directed at myself when I put this into perspective. With ever fiber in my being I never want to be that cruel to someone no matter how bitter I am and that includes being cruel to myself. I don’t know if this is post appropriate or to many details I will edit this post if so.June 4, 2019 at 2:34 pm #297395
I didnt read all of your post because I am so tired and soon will be away from the computer. I did read the first and last paragraph and I am horrified by the abuse you described in the last paragraph (thank you for the trigger warning), so sorry, Zeeza that you suffered so much, and still do because “emotions are like synonymous with memories” when we are terribly abuses, we remember even without the event-memories. The emotions we felt then are registered in our memory and they get activated.
I want to attentively read all your post and will be able to do so tomorrow morning. This post has so much in it that it requires a morning- awake-attention, and so I will be back to your thread in about 15 hours from now. (Anytime you want to add another post, please do).
anitaJune 4, 2019 at 3:24 pm #297403
Thank you for responding so quickly and I am always grateful to have any response if that makes sense. I understand it is a lot in a post and may be hard to read for some, so I was hesitant to put it all out there. Thank you for understanding and being patient with me.
I am grateful to feel all the spectrum of emotions compared to a time of numbness for so long and disconnected from reality. I was always afraid to let whatever I was repressing out because I was afraid of my own emotions and how I would behave with my emotions. In therapy, they want you to feel the emotions and work through all the memories. It had become clear to me that the more I try to avoid what I am feeling the stronger the emotions will try to come forth in my consciousness. Listening to my emotions with the intention to learn the message from them can be helpful. But I find sometimes it best to try to block it out/distract and compartmentalize so I am not feeling something that happened forever ago over and over.
This is why I try to avoid thinking back of the past all together but sometimes I do intentionally try to remember to see if I can find some wisdom in how I am behaving now and change. I have accepted that I will have these memories and emotions.. when I remember a time where I felt that I NEEDED to escape them no matter if I lived or died. I have tried using these strong emotions to make art. It is very dark art but it allows a space to express and contain these emotions I think?
It is easier to commit to distress tolerance when I know there is a moment of peace in the future is possible. Just like when I promised myself when I turned 18 I can be free just have to get through this time period. I know it is not possible to erase and forget no matter how much I try but there must be some way to come to terms with it all. I just don’t like the idea of not being able to control when these memory and/or emotions come up because sometimes it is a surprise. I want my purpose to be brave and share resilience with others. Thank you for sharing you resilience Anita
ZeezaJune 5, 2019 at 7:24 am #297423
“emotions are like synonymous with memories”- we remember events and the emotions connected to the event. When we suppress events with strong, painful emotions, push them away from our awareness, these emotions do not disappear, instead they kind of bleed into our awareness, on and on and on, so we don’t remember/ feel the intense hurt or intense fear connected to an event. Instead, hurt bleeds on and on and we experience it as depression, fear bleeds on and on and we experience it as anxiety.
The hypnosis you described is to remind yourself to breathe deeply when you feel stressed, “I practice this over and over until deep breathing becomes an automatic reaction to stress is ultimate goal”- I don’t think it can be done, that once stressed you automatically breathe deeply without thinking first to do that. You have to have a moment, once you are stress, of intending to breathe deeply before changing your breathing (which is already shallow) to deep breathing.
“The strangest thing about my emotions, and maybe others can relate to this, is when I see something absolutely beautiful I cry”- whatever emotion you experience, at any particular circumstance, someone else felt it, there are always others who can relate to it. I used to think that I as weird, or a freak of nature to feel this or that, but I found out I am very much part of nature, and we people are so alike in so many ways, no one feels anything out of what is natural to feel. Sometimes we don’t understand why we feel a certain way, but it is understandable why, we just don’t have that understanding yet. In the future we will understand and go: oh… now I understand!
You wrote about feeling anger toward yourself, and that anger being “temporarily released” when you bite your lips in class or squeeze your arms hard enough to leave bruises, following failing to understand something taught in class or a making a mistake as a waitress. You replaces these behaviors with squeezing your rings or necklace instead.
I can relate very much to this: “Growing up school and my imagination has always been my sanctuary”.
My mother would tell me I was lying when I wasnt… I would try as many different conversation angles to get her to understand my innocence. After all of these conversations I felt immense guilt constantly”- because our mothers are our mental mirrors. When she says something about who we are, we believe her. Well, we know we didn’t lie but if she says so, maybe we did. We get confused. We try to correct her and make us believe us, but if she will not be corrected, we believe her more than we believe our own rational thinking. We know we didn’t lie… but we are not sure. We doubt ourselves.
“I always thought my mom didn’t know what she was doing and tried to find some silver of hope she loved me”- a child is heavily invested in seeing the best in her mother. The awareness, for a child, that she is “in bad hands”, in danger, is unthinkable, too much fear involved. So the child sees her mother as innocent, as not knowing what she is doing, as loving.
Even when she humiliates us.. we say, oh, but she is hurting herself. Our empathy goes to her, the abuser, not to the abused.
“Listening to my emotions with the intention to learn the message from them can be helpful”, excellent. And sometimes we do need to distract ourselves, so to not get overwhelmed with emotion and to not put undo pressure on ourselves to understand what we are not understanding yet.
“I have tried using these emotions to make art. It is very dark art but it allows a space to express and contain these emotions I think?”- I painted a head with a hand reaching out of it, reaching out for help, like a person arm and hand reaching out from the ocean as the person is drowning, reaching out for help. I was very early twenties at that time, troubled for so long, and yet with many more years of trouble after.
“If I see a street performer being brave to perform their art I can’t help but tear up. It mostly occurs when I see someone being brave it is so beautiful to me”- maybe you tear up because you wish you too can be as free as that performer, free to perform without the burden of shame and guilt, being constantly worried to do it wrong, to make a mistake. Without shame, without guilt, how would life be, will it be like walking on air, all is possible, a new kind of life?
anitaJune 6, 2019 at 3:26 pm #297723
Thank you for your thoughtful response, It took me awhile to absorb and understand everything before responding.
“don’t think it can be done, that once stressed you automatically breathe deeply without thinking first to do that. You have to have a moment, once you are stress, of intending to breathe deeply before changing your breathing (which is already shallow) to deep breathing” I had to giggle because I didn’t articulate myself clearly but you are so correct! I can’t change physiological responses but the reaction to the response. I am hoping I can automatically remember to breathe deeply when I start to shallow breathing. It is like I logically understand what will help me stay calm but I forget or have a difficult time applying the skill in the moment if that makes sense?
“no one feels anything out of what is natural to feel. Sometimes we don’t understand why we feel a certain way, but it is understandable why, we just don’t have that understanding yet. In the future we will understand and go: oh… now I understand!” I love this perspective because it shows how as humans we are connected and similar. In the past day I find a shift in my thinking that when I start to feel hurt bleeding onto my experiences and become frustrated, I remind myself that what I am feeling is appropriately within the spectrum of nature, and I will have an emotional understanding of it someday. This concept is also freeing because it doesn’t make sense to decide if an emotion is wrong but rather create space for empathy.
I have focused so much of my energy in trying to control how I feel rather than understand. Understanding how the mental mirror our mothers have provided us created doubt is much more freeing then trying to repress the hurt.
“sometimes we do need to distract ourselves, so to not get overwhelmed with emotion and to not put undo pressure on ourselves to understand what we are not understanding yet.” I was wondering if I could ask how you how decide to balance distraction or embracing? Is this where the power lies to maintain emotional stability? like the better one is able to balance this skill the easier it becomes to not have explosive emotions?
“I painted a head with a hand reaching out of it, reaching out for help, like a person arm and hand reaching out from the ocean as the person is drowning, reaching out for help” What a powerful way to express reaching for help while in agony. Sometimes I draw faces with the mouth covered by a bandages.
“Without shame, without guilt, how would life be, will it be like walking on air, all is possible, a new kind of life?” I would love to live without that burden just as I am pained to see others silenced in shame. I wonder how many people are out there who haven’t reached out yet or are afraid to. It almost feels selfish for me to ask for a life like that when so many people are needing. Shame and guilt serve some function to behave well in society but I realized I would only want to feel guilt/shame if I harmed someone, or being a passive standby when I could of helped someone. I don’t want to feel guilty for the way I look I guess or feel embarrassed to speak in front of others. Whenever I walk on to my campus it is so big and grand I can’t help but feel this voice inside my head that I don’t belong here because there is no way I am this smart and people are going to find out. I try to stretch my shoulders back so I don’t carry the posture of “hiding”
Do you believe that life gives whatever experience we need for the evolution of our consciousness? I mean surely we sometimes are maladaptive but once we are aware of it we can change it? That by holding a belief that life gives experiences to grow creates a placebo effect of growth? I have become curious about the placebo and nocebo effect because it shows how powerful the mind’s expectations can be.
I use to have this theory about positive energy and negative energy. Positive energy was love and peace, existing in the body as oxytocin, serotonin, dopamine and endorphins where space for growth/healing is created. Negative energy was grief/panic/shame where cortisol and adrenaline exist in the body creating space for survival. This energy can be absorbed or emitted to and from other people. I was a little delusional at the time, and thought that if I loved hard enough, and if positive energy is infinite, then I can heal myself and others.June 6, 2019 at 3:46 pm #297725
Your posts do require my fresh morning brain which now is not fresh at all, it being 3:42 pm my time. I may answer later a post or two that don’t require much focus on my part, but will be back to your thread in about fourteen hours from now.
anitaJune 7, 2019 at 8:45 am #297827
You are welcome.
“I can’t change physiological responses but the reaction to the response”- yes.
“I logically understand what will help me stay calm but I forget or have a difficult time applying the skill in the moment”- this is because first we are emotional animals, we operate as a result of physiological processes that include sensations and emotions. We were animals long before we evolved to have logic. So don’t forget what you are first and foremost, an animal. All humans are.
Our logic has to include this understanding, that we are animals and function like other animals.
“I remind myself that what I am feeling is appropriate within the spectrum of nature, and I will have an emotional understanding of it someday.. it doesn’t make sense to decide in an emotion is wrong but rather create space for empathy”- very well put.
No emotion is wrong, it is a physiological process that happens in any animal, not the animal’s choice.
“I have focused so much of my energy in trying to control how I feel”- that is not only futile but leads to more sickness because we add failure to our life experience, a failure that can’t be prevented. We try, we fail, we try again and we fail again… and again.
Like you wrote at the beginning of your post, “I can’t change physiological responses but the reaction to the response”, in other words, you feel a certain emotion, you can’t not feel it, you already did. Question is what you do next: criticize yourself for having felt it, trying to make yourself never feel that again or.. ask yourself what is this emotion telling me, what is its message for me and what should I do next.
“trying to repress the hurt” – this is what we automatically do, not by choice- push the hurt away from our awareness. But that hurt keeps bleeding into our awareness, so it won’t go away.
“how decide to balance distraction or embracing? Is this where the power lies to maintain emotional stability?.. to balance this skill the easier it becomes to not have explosive emotions?”-
– we all distract, this is how people get into drugs, to distract, as well as gambling or going to bars every other night and pick up people to take home, and/ or over-exercising or under eating or over eating and on and on and on. Distracting in the context of healing is about choosing distractions that don’t harm us. Exercising … in moderation, eating.. in moderation, and so forth. And choosing the timing of these activities, for example, take a fast half an hour walk when overwhelmed with stress, at that time.
To avoid “explosive emotions” it takes noticing an explosion coming up and do something right there and then to calm yourself, the walk I mentioned, but when or where not possible, it can be listening to soft music, putting on a short guided meditation and so forth.
“Sometimes I draw faces with the mouth covered by a bandage”- this is a powerful image for me, because I figure… I wouldn’t have drawn the hand reaching out from the brain upward, reaching out for help, if it was possible for me to … use words, to ask for help and there being someone to listen and help me. My mouth was bandaged, figuratively, kept closed tight.
“I am pained to see others silenced in shame. I wonder how many people are out there who haven’t reached out yet or are afraid to. It almost feels selfish for me to ask for a life like that when so many people are needing” – your value as a human being is no less than any other human being. Everyone who is in trouble reaches out for help somehow. Why not help yourself, there is no less value in that than in helping any other person.
“Whenever I walk on to my campus it is so big and grand I can’t help but feel this voice inside my head that I don’t belong here because there is no way I am this smart and people are going to find out”-
– I walked in big and grand campuses myself and I am here to tell you, Zeeza: you are this smart !
“Do you believe that life gives whatever experience we need for the evolution of our consciousness?”- no. I don’t believe there is a god, or a higher power that orchestrates the events in this world for any particular goal or purpose.
It calms some people to believe that… everything happens for a reason, that a higher power gives us our life experiences for the purpose that we grow as a result- no, I don’t believe that. Bad things happen to us because of natural powers of nature (ex., a tornado), because of people’s dysfunction, thoughtlessness, irresponsibility and … unregulated anger, the actualized desire to hurt others.
Regarding positive energy being “love and peace” and negative energy being “grief/panic/shame”, the first feels good, the second feels bad. Each involves a different physiology and chemistry in our brain/ rest of the body. With emotional healing, the shame can be eliminated (!), the panic reduced to fear at times, and the grief to occasional sadness.
anitaJune 8, 2019 at 2:36 pm #298029
I hope you are having a peaceful weekend. Once again you gave me much to ponder about:)
I am trying to brainstorm ideas for healthy distractions and I tried meditating the other day. I can see how this tool would help me stop ruminating. I have the inspiration to draw an Owl today, in reflection of all this new knowledge becoming wisdom.
“I wouldn’t have drawn the hand reaching out from the brain upward, reaching out for help, if it was possible for me to … use words, to ask for help and there being someone to listen and help me. My mouth was bandaged, figuratively, kept closed tight.”
That is so fascinating how we are both expressing the same dynamic, truly powerful to think about how relatable it is.
I can understand the benefits of religion or believing in a higher power. In Al anon and other 12 step programs they focus on surrendering what one can not control to a higher power. I am wondering how one facilitates this without a higher-power. My aunt says love is her higher power. I agree that it is difficult to design some ultimate reasoning when actualized intent to hurt another exists, cruelty so to speak. But the beauty of nature is to evolve for survival, so maybe epigenetics orchestrates this process?
Thank you for helping me remind myself that, “with emotional healing, the shame can be eliminated (!), the panic reduced to fear at times, and the grief to occasional sadness.” I have hope 🙂June 9, 2019 at 8:06 am #298095
You are welcome. About the concept of a higher power as used in self help programs like Al anon, it is a powerful and very helpful concept to realize that each one of us, each individual is very limited as far as power is concerned. To believe we are more powerful than we are is a source of distress, accumulated failures and frustrations.. and sickness. Understanding where we are not powerful makes it possible for us to exert power where it is possible for us. For example, a person can’t make a rude person become loving and kind (no power there) but a person can stop interacting with such (power there).
Any time you want a reminder that make bring back that hope you ended your post with, post and I will be glad to reply.
anitaJune 12, 2019 at 8:46 am #298671
Hi Anita and Tiny Buddha Community,
Thank you for giving me a safe space to share my thoughts. Yesterday, I had a weird gut feeling that something wasn’t ok with my dad. So I called him a couple of times. He calls me back and informs me that he just finished a week bender (he struggles with benders) but he just got out of the VA hospital because he thought he was having a stroke. They gave him an IV for the high blood pressure and he told me he was asked to go to rehab but he will go to AA meetings instead. I am worried about him but he seems to be a tough guy. Last year he was in a motorcycle accident and he recovered ok. I try to be as supportive as I can without being judgemental and without encouraging the unhealthy lifestyle. He told me felt really depressed.
I am laying in bed as I try to fall asleep and the pressure of my headache gets worse at the base of my head. I have had this headache since the car accident and I get dizzy when I try stretches but do so anyways to try to rebuild strength. Falling asleep to ringing in my ears and the pressure build up. I have two final exams tomorrow so I am trying my best to get ready for it. I find my mind wondering about my headache, if I should get it checked out, followed by the thought of maybe my stress and emotions are adding tension and I am just being a bit dramatic. Sometimes I feel like a hypocondriac. I made a thought map of the things that I have control over and the things I do not have control over to try to better direct my effort and remind myself that I value effort given more than perfection.June 12, 2019 at 10:12 am #298689
Your father had one of his wild drinking sprees, a bender (I googled it, didn’t know what it meant), thought he had a stroke, checked himself into a VA hospital, was given an IV for his high blood pressure, was asked to go to rehab but he chose AA instead. He told you that he felt really depressed.
He told you all that yesterday, two days before your two final exams. He either wasn’t aware that you had two final exams in two days or didn’t care that you did and chose to share with you the distressing information about his recent bender and hospitalization as well as his depression.
An attentive, loving father would have been aware of your coming exams and postpone the sharing of the information he shared with you until after the exams.
This is affecting your well-being in a negative way, understandably. If I found out that my mother is sick, even though I am not in contact with her and do not intend to be when she is sick, I don’t want her to suffer. I never wanted her to suffer. I understand you feeling distressed over your father suffering.
Balance your empathy for him with the facts that he didn’t consider distressing you with this information two days before your exam, that you didn’t cause any of his benders, that you didn’t cause his high blood pressure and depression, that you wish he didn’t suffer and you wish him well, but you shouldn’t suffer from the consequences of his actions. Each one of us has enough to deal with suffering from the consequences of our own actions!
I hope your headache eases up as well as the ringing. Do your best in the exams tomorrow, and I’d like to remind you of your own words from page 1 of your thread: “I imagine strength like a flame. Sometimes life blows out the flame but the flame reignites by support, friends.. The fire of determination to never give up and find this present moment the best moment to grow”-
– and resting between growth moments is necessary.
anitaJune 13, 2019 at 11:03 am #298955
Thank you I am trying I really am I try to talk back to the bully in my head. I feel so guilty. My emotional mind is not balanced out with my rational mind. I am trying to eat something to calm down.