When it comes to coping with difficult situations, our brain’s primary job is to keep us safe. When these difficulties are too great, the brain tends to compartmentalize our emotions by putting up a protective self to guard against the reality of the situation until we can effectively cope and heal. Think of it like putting the beliefs and fears that arise from those situations into a box and taping it shut.
This serves as a short-term solution to the problem, but often becomes our long-term solution that has a negative compounding effect on how we interact with ourselves and others. Instead of working through the emotions, beliefs, and fears that have developed as a result, we continue to put them in that box.
Eventually the box is so full that it can no longer stay shut and everything explodes out in various forms of emotions such as anger, frustration, anxiety, sadness, emptiness, numbness, inadequacy, and so on.
I’ll admit that I have been guilty of doing exactly this and over the past year I have been doing a lot of deep work to unweave this tangled mess so I can show up in my relationships the way I want.
Part of doing this deeper work requires deeper thought into the underlying fears and beliefs that we hold as a result of past traumatic experiences. But it is more than just thinking your way through – yes, this helps us to understand the cause, but we can’t think our way out of those experiences.
We have to feel our way through them by sitting with ourselves, quieting the mind, and just feeling how the body is feeling. Where are those emotions being stored? Tune into that area of the body and sit with it, allow the emotions to come through.
This may take a while and it is easier said than done but letting go of those emotions is a very freeing experience. I recommend working with a coach or therapist in this process to help you if you are new to working with your emotions. To book a free consult, click HERE.
The book that helped me understand and implement this practice is Whole Again: Healing Your Heart and Rediscovering Your True Self After Toxic Relationships and Emotional Abuse by Jackson MacKenzie.