Emotional States

27 08 2015

A friend wrote:

Much as I’d like to think I have it all figured out,

…I’m curious what my male friends think of my take on feelings, men, women, etc. in this comment I made earlier today below a post on feelings:

Feelings do NOT equal “crazy” or “drama” or whatever other bullshit people put on them. Feelings are a deep, natural part of who we are and IMO they are our connection to spirit. If one is not in touch with their feelings, they can’t feel ANYTHING very deeply. Including promptings, intuitions, etc. Our culture is emotion-phobic and feelings are treated as this foreign thing we are supposed to either control or pretend not to have-even though they inform a huge portion of our choices! Hello-! I believe the reason so many people fear feelings is that we have ignored them and therefore have NO idea how to use them, listen to them, direct and channel them in responsible healthy ways. For example, we fear anger because most of us have only seen it used irresponsibly in ways that cause harm. So we judge the feeling, not separating it from the way it is expressed. I think men have a hard time with feelings in women because women, again, have not been taught to honor and express our own feelings in a healthy manner. Out of a lack of knowing better, we have taken our feelings out on men, blamed them, and made them ‘responsible’ for how we feel.

As a result, sadly, most men now feel somewhat panicked or overwhelmed when they sense big feelings in a woman. They fear they are going to be blamed or expected to do something and are often not sure what. If they are our partner or family member or someone we are close to, they value us, care about our feelings, and want to feel they can help us feel good and be happy, and when we don’t, they fear they will be blamed, attacked, have expectations put on them that they don’t know how to meet or otherwise feel inadequate somehow. SO they have a negative association with us having strong feelings. On top of all that, they have been trained more deeply than we have to avoid feelings. Feelings are seen as weak in the male world of this culture and men who have been expressive have usually been shamed deeply and attacked (even physically brutalized) by other males. So there are TONS of reason for men to feel uncomfortable with feelings. I think women can help in healing this by learning to befriend, work with, and take responsibility for our own feelings, and to create a sense of safety around feelings with men. Absolutely first thing is to become comfortable with them ourselves, IMO.

Which prompted the following response in me:

I see this issue on two levels.

First I will address emotional states in general.  Our emotional states usually come and go.  One moment we may feel happy, another sad, and any other emotion may come upon us quickly.  This morning I saw a video of Alanis Morrisette singing a song, and that prompted me to find another video by her on YouTube.  Both those songs brought up emotions in me.  The first made me smile and there was an opening toward her.  It has a happy feeling mostly but mixed.  The second song made me cry, not in sadness but it was not happiness either.  It was a different emotional state. Things, songs, sounds, voices, smells, things we see, words, tone of voice, our thoughts can all evoke an emotional state.  I recently worked with someone who had a huge anger response to a simple phrase said to them by their partner.  And if this phrase was said they were going to have an argument.  It was not a confrontive phrase but it reminded the person of a situation in childhood.  These are all emotional states and usually we flow from one to another through the day.  Sometimes we get in a particular emotional state for a period of time, maybe days but rarely for longer.  These states are meant to change.  Sometimes we feel that we should not allow our state to change for some reason.  If someone passes away, we may feel that we are not showing love by being sad, but our states shift and change.  We might be in deep grief and then something strikes us an funny and we are shift for a time out of our grief.

A problem develops when I emotional states become fixed.  When we get stuck in a certain one and cannot seem to shift from it.  This is really a different discussion but I wanted to mention it here.  I will do another post on fixed states one day and this will include not only fixed emotional states to fixed states of thought.

The thing about these states is we get caught up in them.  We feel them in our body, and we get very involved in them.  The thing is they are transitory.  They change from moment to moment.  Sometimes those moments may feel long but they are still transitory.  We take them very seriously though.  In that moment it is our reality.  It is the only thing that exists, and we can go deep into it.  Many parents have developed the skill to distract their child when they are in an emotional state that is not working for some reason.  We are all like this we can be distracted from these states.  There is a way they are so serious to us, and a way they are not serious at all.

So, what do we do?  I think we just allow ourselves to feel them.  Do not resist them, push them aside, try to get others not to feel them or interrupt the process in someway.  Just feel them.  Allow yourself to go through what you are going through, and those around you also.  Now there is a responsibility in this depending what emotional state you are experiencing.  If you are angry, do not abuse others emotionally, verbally, or physically.  In the midst of that particular emotion it might be better to separate yourself and fully express that emotion in a safe place where you can get it out verbally and even physically without cause harm to others or property.  That may mean beating on your mattress to get it out, or another method to release it from your body.  Feel it and release it, especially if it is sadness or anger.  Do not try to hold them in but release them out, just not in a way that causes harm to others.  So many people want to try and resolve something when they are angry but we are usually not emotionally prepared to negotiate or problem solve in those moments.  Usually, we just kind of want what we want.  We want someone to stop doing something or do something in a different way.  I find that adjusting our own behavior is difficult enough, trying to adjust someone else’s is almost impossible.  Which is why couples often say to me, I told them a million times and they haven’t stopped, or changed, or done this for me, etc.

If the emotional state is triggered by another person then there may be a discussion to have with the other person, and also their is likely internal work to do to resolve in you whatever it is that is being triggered.  I have found during my journey through all of this is that when I resolve something in me that bothers me in others I find that thing in others does not bother me anymore.  It just becomes an issue that no longer care about.  This is like the couple I mentioned earlier.  When we identified the early age issue with the one person, just identified it, it lost a lot of its power over them.  Has it been resolved?  Not yet, but it has only been identified.  Everyone now understands where this reaction comes from and that it is not actually the person they are in relationship with but an issue within themselves.

Now this does not mean that there are not larger issues that need to be resolve in one way or another.  Say infidelity.  This is a huge issue that the triggers may have roots in the past with the person reacting to it, but it is also a systemic problem in the relationship that will likely need to be resolve for that relationship to continue.  Now the resolution may come in many different forms.  Maybe the person who has been unfaithful gets how destructive it is to the relationship and adjusts their behavior (which then brings up the whole issue of trust in the relationship but that is a different issue), or the other person in the relationship decides they want to stay in the relationship even in the face of that behavior and knowing it happens, or may the couple decides to enter an open relationship that is or is not honest about outside relationships, or the person decides to have their own affairs to make it all “fair” and can cope with it that way, or the relationship ends because the issue is not manageable for them.

Anger is probably the emotional state that causes the most disruption in relationships.

There is so much more going on. There is a whole masculine/feminine energy thing that happens. And that is a whole area of study. There are things, emotional expression is one, that are part of this energy. In the east they talk about the Shiva and Shakti energies and this is what I am alluding to.

Also, there is this whole thing where we take our emotions too seriously. Yes, we have them they exist. In both masculine and feminine but we do not have to get all caught up in it. I am not talking about denying them or pushing them aside. We should not resist but just feel them, and know that they will pass and we will have different emotions later. Emotions are like the weather. They come and they go and they will always be changing. We just get all caught up in them like they are important. They are not important but they are real and should be fully experienced. Now the thing about anger is that most of us need to be trained in appropriate expression of anger. It drives me crazy when I work with parents who try to suppress anger in their children. Anger is another emotion and it is okay, but it is not okay to hit others, curse others, scream at others… It is okay to express it out of our bodies – actually it is essential. I believe that repressed anger and sadness are the cause of many illnesses in our society. Get them out. Be angry in an appropriate way without emotional harm or physical harm to others. Feel your sadness and express it as it arises. Do not hold back but do not inflict them on others.

Lastly, when you know your true nature all of this changes for you (over time). You are less invested in all this. A masculine person (not necessarily a man) should know themselves, find their way of being grounded. They should learn toe steadiness that is unshakable so their feminine partner has a space to express their emotions in a safe way. Their masculine partner can handle all they have. Their is space for them to get it all out. Be strong enough to accept all they have to give. There are teachings to work through all of this. Although it is a journey.

Do not resist but also do not wallow….

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