Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Emotional Ruts

¡Hola! Everybody...

I've decided it's time for me to look for a new gig... some jobs are like those relationships we hang on to because of the familiarity and I have come to the realization that I'm in a professional rut. Time to move on.

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-=[ Emotional Constipation ]=-

We live in a society of emotional illiterates because our emotional lives have never been emphasized. Emotions are considered weak -- a poor substitute for reason. Too often conception is confused with perception. And the thing is you can commit to practice some esoteric technique (or shop for shoes) and it won’t change anything about your perception. Nothing changes because there is this incapacity to feel. We spend a huge amount of money, time, and effort into not feeling and we pay a high price. We pay a high price when we avoid feelings as they arise.

Just so we’re on the same page, I make a distinction between feelings and emotions. I see feelings as the reality -- the actual sensation -- of feeling. Feelings have a physical as well as a psychological component. Feelings manifest themselves in the body. Emotions on the other hand are the dramas we attach to feelings. In this way, we have feelings and then we have what we bring to them (emotions).

When we deny our feelings, they become “gooey,” and instead of passing through us, they clog up our psychic GI tract. It’s like an emotional constipation. You hear people say it all the time -- they “get stuck.”

There is a process. First, we create a habitual tension in the body that literally cuts off the free flow of sensation. The consequences are a lot deeper than you think. I once had a lover, for example, who found intercourse extremely uncomfortable, painful even. We tried everything: different positions, different patterns of stroking, lubrication -- we did everything except swing from the chandeliers while she ran around the block naked (actually, we thought about that too. LOL). Nothing worked. Medically, there was nothing wrong with her.

We were was at our wit’s end, until one day we were lying in bed together, clinched talking intimately. And somehow she began to talk to me. As she spoke, she began to cry. Of course, I became aroused because for some sick reason, I find the spectacle of a naked woman crying highly erotic. LOL!

I digress...

The more she spoke and the more she unburdened herself, the more she cried. The more she cried, the more she opened. I mean she was opening in every sense. She wasn’t talking about anything specific -- it wasn't so much the content of our conversation, but the feeling. I was holding her -- had been holding her -- for the longest. Eventually, she just let go. Something inside snapped or unfurled and she became open. We made love that day and she didn't experience any discomfort. It was an amazing experience for both of us.

I use this example to illustrate that there’s this price we pay for not feeling and part of that is physical -- this tension in the body. We create a body armor that numbs us from the free flow of reality. For my friend the tension manifested itself around her pelvic area, apparently creating extreme tension during intercourse. The way she described it, it was as if there was a void around that area. A void that would become tension. There are other physical manifestations. In order not to feel anger, for example, we clench the solar plexus and block feeling, blood flow, and energy. To avoid feeling fear, we contract the pectoral muscles and collapse the chest. Over time these unconscious attempts to block feeling in the body leads to postural imbalances and stress-related illnesses. You would be amazed at what one loving, unconditional hug could do for you.

There’s another stage or, better put, coping strategy we use in order to avoid feelings and that’s the use or overuse of intellectualizing or rationalizing. These are is common defense mechanisms and they can be infuriating. We sometimes develop strategies to control or stop the feelings. We ask, “Why am I feeling this?” then seek for an answer that usually begins with “Because.” I am angry because you... or they made me feel sad because they... And in that way, we get caught in the endless cycle of cause and effect.

Another strategy for not feeling is venting. This one is very seductive because it has become ingrained in our popular culture. Weve all heard the cliche letting it all out is good for us. This is due to a popular misconception regarding the psychoanalytic concept of catharsis. Sometimes this happens very quickly and sometimes it simmers for a while before exploding. If you’re from a culture that frowns on open displays of emotion, for example, it might take years. However, when the lid finally blows on that pressure cooker, we create a lot of wreckage and a theres a huge mess to clean up afterward. You can even cause permanent damage.

Venting is in actuality a rebellion against feeling. It’s a rebellion against the tension created between feeling and its repression. What happens is that we try to compensate for resisting our initial feeling with an explosive mixture of emotion and willfulness. Angry? You’re fuckin’ right I’m angry! And you had better sit there and listen to me!

Exploding or venting is not cathartic, it’s just another way to create the illusion of control over feeling and avoiding the feeling being overwhelmed. You think (rationalize) you’re managing your feelings by expressing your anger. In fact, you’re not feeling a feeling, but doing emotion -- creating drama. Rather than actually experiencing the feeling as a wave passing through us, we contract our small sense of self and become the wave. Rather than feeling anger or sadness, we say, “I am angry,” “I am sad. In a very real sense, this movement or wave has taken over our very identity.

From the purely ego-driven, Mini Me perspective, the only choice we think we have is either to shut down (repress) our feelings or to be taken over by them and become reactive (vent).

Either way, you’re still caught. In the final analysis, we are still controlled by emotional states that are in actuality disconnected from the world around us and we are stopped from being able to offer our deepest gifts.




  1. omg...I totally feel you as a way of openeing up to people is concerned. I'm an introvert to say the most. Has been all my fucking life...and I can prodly say that it has been the stumbling block in my love life-or lack thereof. I'm recently in an interracial relationship, and my boyfriend requests that I open up to him, but I cannot, due to the fact of me being closed and reserved all this time with no hint of ever letting up.

    I wish I had the heart and mind to open up to him, but once again, my selfish need to be closed-and yet be open to him physically- isn't working and therefore we have minor fights bbecause of it.

    I wish we didn't but we do...and now I'm seeking help.

  2. Well, it's not an easy thing to do, Zappy. Even "extroverts" sometyimes hide behind the outgoingh nature. Oprning up requires some inner work, yes. but it also requires a considerate and caring partner willing to withhold judgment and it also requires a psychological space that feels safe.

    I think that we all do avoid/ deny or feelings to varying degrees. You're right, though: we do need to strip away the armor, we just have to be careful how and with whom we do it.

  3. I was raised by a rage-aholic.  It did leave permanent scars.  My mother was the one; and when she started venting her venom on my kids I told her to stop.  They do not need to experience her anger (she thinks they need to know that people will be angry at them).  Well, I told her to go fuck herself.

  4. Your post is so profound that there are not words to reply.

  5. we do tend to live the "scripts" handed down to us. fortunately, there are ways to awaken to the cycle of suffering and putting a stop to it. Protecting your children, or not allowing them to to be subjected to the same patterns is one way of stopping the madness.

  6. we do tend to live the "scripts" handed down to us. fortunately, there are ways to awaken to the cycle of suffering and putting a stop to it. Protecting your children, or not allowing them to to be subjected to the same patterns is one way of stopping the madness.


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