I mean emotionally.
I mean that for several blogs now the emphasis is on taking charge and ownership of your feelings, rather than expecting someone else to do so for you.
But that being said, it is absolutely fine to not know what to do with said feelings, owned and operated by you and you alone.
Feelings are confusing things. They are not logical, they often do not fit into tidy black and white boxes. They are not even things. They are more diaphanous and tempestuous. They can often come out at inopportune times, or specific triggers that are annoying as hell. If you push them aside, they seem to come back stronger and more feisty. It makes sense that so many people don’t want to deal with their feelings. Life, as it has come to be, moves at a pace with little regard to them.
Mindfulness, meditation, yoga, running a half marathon, therapy, all of these activities can slow down our thinking, our constant processing, and allow for our feelings to emerge. A lot of us don’t even want it then, but it is essential to coming to terms with whatever is going on with you.
If you have a strong resistance to what is going on with you emotionally, or if you already know you regularly block your emotional self, then practice being curious about that part of yourself. What do you gain by being unplugged from your emotions? Maybe you already know why you do it. Maybe the reason is a mystery. Maybe you want to bring more emotional contact into your life, but believe you can’t.
On the other hand, if your life is one rollercoaster of intense emotion after another, what is that about? Often times, with this presentation, emotions feel out of control and there is little perceived choice in what to do about them. I disagree. You always have a choice, but that requires looking at the consequences of your behavior. Some people live their lives with an intense and inflated emotional affect that is kept afloat by very specific beliefs about themselves and others. Those beliefs behind the emotions can be examined more closely in therapy.
One of the best things about therapy can be the normalizing, healing realization that it is okay to not know the answers to your problems. To not know how you feel about your divorce, or your cancer, or your dysfunctional mother (employer/government/school), or your inability to maintain emotionally mature relationships.
Being alone out there—as we are bombarded by the media— with all our responsibilities and general world weariness, a person might start to think they have to figure it all out, and be like Yoda before they even get to be like Luke.
We all cope with stress the best that we can. And we often model that style of coping with what we observed from our parents, or other less than enlightened individuals also trying to do their best in a crazy world. And more than likely, you don’t give yourself enough credit for all that you do well. Because of feelings. And your beliefs about those feelings. Your feelings that you work so hard to hide, or minimize, or deny. Because maybe those feelings are scary. They are angry or sad or just really fucking hard to understand.
That’s absolutely normal. Maybe all you just want to do is sharpen your understanding of issues that are really important to you. That would make a lot of sense, and frames the situation to your benefit: I want to better understand my relationship to intense or buried emotions, rather than: I am crazy and I shouldn’t be around normal people. Sounds better, right?
The issue that comes up right away though is you have had years to perfect how you deal with emotions and your beliefs about your emotions. And meeting a new counselor who is going to ask you to slow down and attend to certain things you are not used to attending to, is possibly going to feel a little strange. Imagine going to the gym and meeting with a personal trainer. You tell the trainer you want to get great looking abs, but refuse to do any core exercises. You are not going to get the results you want. Your intended goal will require you to do things you probably are not doing in your normal life. Of course. That is how counseling works.
It is change, but it is change based on who you are, and what you have experienced, at a pace that you get to decide. It is all negotiable. Sometimes people want the counselor–or just anybody else–to do the work for them. That gets tricky, and better saved for another post. But to get an idea of what I mean, just read any of my posts about narcissists, and you will have a better understanding of what I mean.
How not to be an emotional fluffer. Don’t do for others, emotionally speaking, what they seem to be unwilling to do for themselves. If you are feeling confident and brave, you can bring up what you see going on with them. Nicely. For example, you might say: It seems like you are having some strong feelings about X, but you aren’t really saying anything about X, is that correct?
Don’t protect someone else’s feelings—if someone needs to speak up then encourage them to do so. But don’t rescue them from what they are feeling. Sometimes people just need to experience an emotional situation at their own speed. But be curious about it. Ask what is going on with them when the time presents itself. But don’t crowd them. Don’t mother them. That isn’t sexy for an adult. Unless we are talking about fetishes. Different blog post though, that one.
When someone has a difficult emotion come up, don’t brush past it or offer suggestions of solutions. Just hang out with them and ask if they need anything from you. If they say they don’t need any help from you, believe them and let it go.
At the end of the day, we all want to feel competent when it comes to our emotions. Some of us are better at it than others. Some of us have a lot of trouble sustaining our emotional selves. But they are trying as hard as they know how. And that means something.