Facing Emotion Isn’t Just About Feeling Uncomfortable
Facing emotion and owning those feelings will allow you to authentically process life for what it has been, what it is, and sometimes, what it might be– good, great, or otherwise. Think about how often you experience difficult circumstances and emotions. Of those times, how often do you bottle or bury those emotions? How uncomfortable are you confronting those feelings? Navigating difficult and unpleasant feelings and experiences is not simply painful and uncomfortable. Ultimately, facing emotion allows something more profound and ingrained to transpire.
Where Did These Emotions Come From? Understand How Your Brain Works
The Survival Brain
Your limbic system, sometimes called your survival network, is the part of the brain responsible for your behavior and emotional responses, among other things. Beginning at birth, the limbic system receives messages via your experiences that shape how you respond, feel, process, and behave. When somebody picked on you in elementary school, teased you in junior high school, bullied you in high school, or even broke up with you in early adulthood, your limbic system converted those experiences into information. One way your survival network processed that information was by converting the data into an internal message telling you it is unsafe to respond in a particular way or to express something openly.
Everything Starts Somewhere
Throughout stages of your life, countless experiences seemingly affirm the information catalogued by your limbic system. Before you know it, you are left frozen, afraid to feel, process, and even own your emotions, which leads to losing authentic connection with others and the ability to be transparent and vulnerable. Your limbic system makes facing emotions difficult, and, even though it’s trying to protect you from emotional distress, it might be driving you further from the thriving existence you long for.
The Limbic System Remembers Experiences From all Ages
Think about it; consider not simply your age but also your lived experience. Experiences are not bound by nor are they mutually exclusive to age. Life does not withhold painful, uncomfortable, and even heartbreaking experiences from you based on your age. You can find yourself stuck in a cycle, fearing transparent communication, genuine connection, and being vulnerably known.
Perceived Safety May Keep You from Authenticity
Surface-level interaction may feel safe, but it does not remedy the longing for relationship. In a world where we boast about our couple hundred to a couple thousand social media friends or followers, relationships have been exchanged for likes. All the while, you are still guarded and poised with your emotions. Controlled. Deliberate. Protected. Never fully giving the best of yourself because your previous encounters have taught you and shaped your perception of safe engagement, responses, expressions, and communication, not authentic ones.
Reflect Upon What You Learned from Your Past Experiences
Consider a time when you expressed raw, vulnerable emotion. Recall when you faced your emotions and shared them with others. Can you remember the responses of those around you? I have heard many clients recount times in which they showed sadness, grief, stress, worry, loneliness, etc. only to be met with a sometimes uncomfortable, “Are you okay?” or worse, teasing you for not being okay, exclaiming in disbelief, “I know you are not crying?!” What did these experiences teach you? What message was likely processed in your limbic system?
“It is not ok for me to show emotions.”
If your survival network learned that it wasn’t ok for you to show emotions, it makes sense that facing emotions wouldn’t feel safe.
Mama Was Right: Practice Makes Perfect
It takes practice to embrace transparency and vulnerability. It takes practice to get comfortable with being wholly known by others. Before you can begin to practice authentic connection, you first must practice identifying, owning, and growing comfortable with your emotions. The more you practice facing emotion, the more used to emotions you will be; this leads to confidence, freedom, connection, and peace.
Don’t Go It Alone
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel! This is where therapy comes in; it is where I come in. You may know through experience that to be vulnerable is to give someone else the power to emotionally wound you. How many times have you tried vulnerability and transparency only for it to come back with a stinging vengeance? However, in my therapy room, there is no bitter, sarcastic quip locked and loaded for launch, no attack on your emotions or experience. I make facing emotions safe for my clients. Your survival brain can rest knowing that a knowledgeable and compassionate therapist, passionate about mental and emotional health, is eager to support you and journey with you as you learn how to thrive. I hope you entrust me with the privilege of joining you on your journey.
Call 601-362-7020 today to schedule an appointment with Candi Crawford.