Denying How We Feel
Think about it, we learn to lie not long after we utter our first words. Although we hesitate to admit it, the tendency to lie is ingrained in our psyches. The truth is not always music to the ears.
In the 3rd part of this series, we’re going to take a look at how we lie to ourselves by denying the truth of how we feel.
Responses to the posts about lying were awesome – this is a topic that generates pretty strong feelings and reactions.
In Part I of The Truth of a Lie I talk about lies requiring both compassion and a warrior response. I address the ways in which lies hurt those we love. A technique called stalking your lies is described.
The Truth of a Lie Part 2 is about lying tactics, mean-spirited actions disguised as honesty, and motives for lying.
Since we’re in the midst of a cultural craze of putting on our happy faces (see my post: The Happy Face Syndrome ) it’s especially timely to take a look at how we deny our emotions.
There’s a current climate that creates tremendous pressure to “transcend” emotions and only express “positive” feelings. While it’s great to learn how to shift our emotional states, like any beneficial concept it can be misused when applied overzealously.
Repressing your feelings is NOT good for your health. In fact, it’s about as beneficial to your health as eating twinkies.
Emotional maturity, though, requires acknowledging and feeling all our emotions and learning how to manage them appropriately. And by the way, neither sex automatically has this capability.
A less blatant form than outright lying, pretending we don’t feel the way we do is a form of denial that lacks truth. It’s disempowering, which isn’t surprising considering the reasons we do this. Usually, this type of denial is motivated by fear and anxiety.
I remember (well, I might add) a past relationship in which I denied that I was feeling frustrated, angry, and disappointed. I felt so in love with this man that I didn’t want to “rock the boat”. Not like me. I’ve been a boat rocker from the get go.
Early on this awesome creature told me he thought I was high maintenance. ( Check out this fun post: What Maintenance Level Are You?). This was so laughable under the circumstances that if I were to hear it today, I’d be sure to be taking a drink of something so I could spray it all over the place while I laughed at the absurdity of it.
Nevertheless I was so “in love” that I unwittingly tried to make myself smaller (which translates into having no wants, no needs, walk all over me) in order to maintain the relationship. Oh, don’t worry, it’s okay that you’re canceling our plans to get together again. I know you’re working really hard. No birthday or Christmas present, again, oh well. All that good stuff.
It’s Always About Ourselves
The point isn’t to analyze him, it’s always about ourselves. And a little compassion is in order, so be nice! Remember, fear and anxiety.
We silence ourselves and deny our emotions in many ways. I provided one example. In denying how I felt, I lied to myself and in withholding the truth, I deprived my “partner” of the opportunity to relate with the real me.
Explore your life and the ways in which you have denied your emotions. Think: denial.
When you come from a place of fear and anxiety, you can pretty much assume you aren’t going to get what you think you want. A great outcome doesn’t emerge from these emotions. In my example, I thought I was preventing the loss of a relationship that in reality I didn’t have. That’s the irony of these behaviors.
Denying Emotions Doesn’t Make Them Go Away
Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, but in case you haven’t noticed, denying emotions doesn’t make them go away.
Paradoxically, denying these not so pretty emotions makes them stronger. They simply go into hiding until the next event comes along to “trigger” them. And trust me, they will rear their unpleasant heads again.
Uncomfortable emotions are our cue that we need to do inner work and that includes embracing the emotion.
The Value Of Emotions
Your emotions provide powerful guidance and information.
For example, if you feel angry it may be because you are tolerating intolerable behavior. Fear may indicate you need to avoid something.
And imagine this: If something doesn’t feel good, maybe it isn’t! Move away from it!
Invite your emotions to sit and dine with you. Let your fear, anger, anxiety speak to you.
Become curious. What are your emotions trying to tell you?
One form of therapy (Pardoxical Therapy) actually prescribes the symptom and the client is told to amplify it. Paradoxically, this decreases the symptom. For example, if you have really low self-esteem you might stand in front of the mirror and go into a tirade about how awful you are until you find yourself laughing at the absurdity of it.
By embracing the emotion, it loses it’s power over you. You quickly find yourself feeling better.
Going Into Hiding
A consequence of going into hiding about your emotions is you lose touch with the ability and opportunity to deeply relate with others. If you hide your feelings often, no one really knows who you are.
You’re then faced with not being able to genuinely connect with others and become isolated. In the extreme, you lose touch with who you are too. You may begin to feel numb or disconnected from yourself.
Emotional sobriety implies the ability to express how you feel and what you want and need, in a way that doesn’t harm others. It involves speaking when centered.
While it may feel as if you’re weakening yourself to express how you feel, it’s actually the most empowering thing you can do.
You become more real when you speak your truth, more who you are. And the best thing you can be is yourself.
Your uniqueness is more remarkable than you can imagine.
Appropriate timing is important. I know people, for example, who’ve told someone they’re leaving on their birthday or a holiday. Come on now, that’s just passive-aggressive. Putting the knife in and giving it an extra little twist. Ouch!
Denial is Lying to Ourselves and Others
Denial is right up there in terms of efficiency for coping with life. Denial helps us not face what we don’t have the strength to face. As with most defenses, though, it bites us in the ass eventually.
That eventually is when we continue to refuse to face the truth and cope with it. Facing the truth takes huevos (in case you don’t know, that’s balls). A typical arena in which denial thrives is addictions.
Making a commitment to speak your truth in a way that expresses your wants and needs is an empowering experience. Take responsibility for your own feelings rather than analyzing the other person.
Being willing to hear no from others and considering their wants and needs as well as your own is emotional maturity.
Mind-body healing modalities are great for helping you gain perspective and a sense of empowerment. These include emotional release work, sound healing, acupressure, acupuncture, EFT (tapping), yoga, and meditation.
These are just a few of the tools available to us. We are living in the most exciting time in terms of access to cutting edge technologies for enhancing your awareness and consciousness. You can really have fun with this. Find something that resonates with you and come out to play!
The Best Relationships Ever
If you’ve been visiting the site often you’ll know that the best relationships ever begins with your relationship to yourself. Practicing speaking your truth will increase your self-esteem, empower you, and improve your relationships.
Taking responsibility for your own feelings removes a tremendous burden from partners. One of the biggest relationship mistakes we make is holding someone else responsible for our well-being.
I’d love to hear from you about ways in which you’ve denied your emotions. Share your stories about how you’ve learned to express your truth.
Until next time, be well, and may you experience the best relationships ever!
Photo Courtesy: And Ya Don’t Stop