I mean it. It is perhaps the one part of me that is aligned with the Buddha: my wish to prevent other people’s suffering.
Unfortunately I am a therapist so other people’s suffering is something I really can’t avoid.
For a lot of people, people who might already be in therapy, it can still be somewhat of a surprise to learn that emotions are the literal jackpot when it comes to helpful therapy.
As in: talking about emotions, admitting emotions exist, just paying attention to emotions, acknowledging painful emotions, exploring uncomfortable emotions, realizing emotions are not the best travel guides when trying to find out the truth, recognizing the power emotions have over everything, including our thoughts.
To borrow from an old friend who while in law school shared the gem, “If you want to know who is responsible, always follow the money,” I offer my own therapeutic version of the statement: “To get the most out of therapy, always follow the emotion.”
Emotions are much easier to hide though than the paper trail of money or whatever lawyers are looking for. But they still get paid more than us, so that should bother you. Altruistically, I mean.
Anxiety as a general symptom is proof of an emotion out of context or control. Expressed in a mathematical format: Anxiety=Emotions + our preconceived notions or unexpressed expectations about ourselves (PNUE). Our preconceived notions or unexpressed expectations could be one of any number of “shoulds.” Example: Men shouldn’t show emotion. Result: anxiety when emotions happen. Another example: Women should love the role of being a mom. Result: anxiety when any other temporary emotional reaction happens that disagrees with that statement.
Who wins in this crazy contest? Besides the pharmaceutical companies, of which at least 4 CEOs are probably on vacation right now.
The answer: not you.
Not your relationships. Not your sense of happiness or fulfillment. Not your kids, or your spouse. Not your 401K. Maybe your dog. But not really.
Everybody loses when you avoid your emotions.
Possible solution: accept your emotions. Make nice with them. Integrate them back into your life, as opposed to trying to cut them off and burning the evidence. This is not The Walking Dead.
Everyone around you will appreciate your effort. Even you.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Disclaimer: no emotions were avoided in the writing of this blog. In fact, my various emotions while writing this entry contributed positively to every aspect of it.