I don’t know myself

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This topic contains 3 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Peter 9 months, 1 week ago.

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    I had always been a very closed book emotionally, I’m happy to talk about stories people might find embarrassing but my emotions were a part of me I never shared. This lead to me ending my first relationship. Fast forward 3 years and I’m in university, and I get into a new relationship. This person made me feel comfortable like I’ve never felt before and he broke down that wall around my emotions.

    My emotional dependency was the reason for this relationship ending. It’s now been a year, but I still don’t know how to process these emotions. I always had a strong front and surprised everything but he brought out all these overwhelming emotions and I don’t know what to do. I hate university and I need someone I can cry to. I’ve shut off again, even though I know I have friends and family that would give me so much time.  I don’t know how to be that open with someone again, and I feel by bottling all these emotions I’m going to crack. I can’t do it!

    How can I be happy with me again?




    Dear Bella:

    My answer to your question in the last line: by opening up and sharing your emotions bit by bit, over time, in safe setting, with a safe person who will lovingly accept your emotions and respect you throughout.

    It may be a quality psychotherapist who will be that person. It may be people in a support group meetings, where there are rules to sharing and listening, such as not interrupting the person sharing and behaving respectfully toward the one sharing.

    A young child is naturally an open book, nothing hidden. You were that child, an open book. What caused you to shut down earlier in life?



    Eric Tan

    Hi Bella,

    You must be feeling very stuck and overwhelmed right now.  You’ve had a new experience of being emotionally open to someone like never before but got too dependent on him.  Now even though you’ve gone back to your regular way of being (closing off on your emotions), they sound like they are leaking out or building up to bursting.  In fact, I sense that you might have developed a different kind of relationship with your own emotions.  Previously when you were closed off, your relationship with them might have been a distant one.  After opening up, your relationship to them seems to have become one of fear.

    My sense is that it’s a toughie but here are a few things you can do:

    1) consider seeking a mental health professional for help – because I sense that you can’t do this alone.  In fact, you seem to also sense the same thing as you said you need someone to cry to.  It is precisely in a warm and supportive relationship that you can learn (with the therapist acting as training wheels) to tackle your many emotions.  Really ask around to see if you can find a warm and relatable therapist.

    2) By yourself, what helps is to have a way of discharging your emotions in small, manageable amounts (sorry if I sound so clinical).  This has worked well for me.  One way is to consider which methods of emotional expression helps you stay in control, while allowing yourself to express whatever amount of emotion you want.  I would recommend writing – putting your feelings into words helps pin them down and download them (like a USB drive).  I’ve found that putting a time (e.g., 20 minutes) or page limit (e.g., 3 pages) helps your emotional expression stay contained.  Also, you can choose to write about the smallest or least difficult emotions for starters, and you need never write about the too-big emotions.

    3) Use some physical methods to help you take the edge of your emotions.  Emotions happy mainly in our bodies – I call it “carried in our bodies” – and it helps to use a body-oriented method or methods to calm them down.  Regularly do some yoga, go for a walk, swim, engage your five senses to ground you in the present moment and anchor your awareness in the emotional storm that might be going on inside.  Even just doing things to make you feel physically comfortable (like a cuppa of hot chocolate or a foot bath) helps heaps.  When I get overwhelmed, I usually go for a walk and boy do I walk!  I walk until I break into a sweat and feel the strong emotions in my chest calm down.

    4) When you are ready – after spending a lot of time on the first three suggestions, then you might maybe take small risks to open up bit by tiny bit to different people.  One possible reason you might have become so dependent on your ex could be (I’m really just guessing here) because you opened up all at once to him (as he made you feel so comfortable).  The fact that you needed some level of comfort to open up emotionally (which is a vulnerable thing for any of us to do) suggests to me that you might have needed to do it in small and gradual amounts.

    Hope this helps a little bit.  Stay strong!  Eric




    Hi Bella

    What do you mean by “emotionally dependency”? Are you saying that your sense of self is tied up in having your emotions validated by someone other then yourself?  Or are you saying you needed a safe place to share your emotions and without that safe place find yourself wondering who you are?

    In Zen there is the concept of Two Minds — the thinking mind and the observing mind. Most of our psychological and emotional stress happens because our Thinking Mind and Observing Mind are “fused” and we don’t recognize the difference.

    For example. We have a experience that leaves us feeling sad and then we become sad.  We say ‘I’ am sad and doing so mistake our thoughts and our feelings for who we are.

    Our emotions can teach us a great deal about how our experiences are influencing us so its very important to feel them, however it is a error to mistake our sense of self as ‘being’ our emotions, or our thoughts. “You” are not your emotions or your thinking,,,,,

    Why We Need to Stop Judging Our Feelings

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