Why does it feel so difficult to talk?
When negative or difficult emotions build up in intensity they create discomfort or pain. We often find ourselves dealing with such discomfort in ways that are unhelpful to ourselves, and our relationships.
What are the commonest ways of dealing with pain or difficult feelings?
We might express our pain outwardly, through words or actions, such as passive-aggression, controlling behaviour, or angry outbursts.
We might deny or repress our pain. We might hold it tight in our bodies, hunching our shoulders, or clutching our stomachs.
Or we might withdraw completely, and become silent and dissociated from our pain.
This list is not exhaustive, and sometimes a combination of these ‘coping strategies’ takes place.
Depression, self-harm, anger issues, addiction or otherwise destructive behaviours can all be indications of pain, a result of unresolved emotions or trauma. However, even if we ‘know’ the reasons behind our behaviour, it can be incredibly hard to learn new ways of being.
Why is it so hard to talk about feelings?
Generally, most of us don’t like to feel vulnerable (and certainly not most men). We see vulnerability as equating to weakness. So we try to stay protected. It’s a survival mechanism – we imagine if we present as weak, we would be more open to attack.
Our ego, or sense of identity can become constructed on the belief that we must stay ‘strong’ and ‘in control’. The thought of expressing ‘weakness’ can be experienced as destabilising and quite frightening. This in turn leads to increasing ‘armouring’ of the frightened ego.
We are trying to stay safe.
Perhaps our upbringing taught us that emotions should not be discussed.
Or perhaps emotions were so chaotically expressed by our family members, that we retreated into ourselves, to a place of safety.
Why is it useful to talk about feelings?
Unresolved emotion leads to pain and often destructive behaviour. The process of talking about feelings shines light on those dark corners. It begins to examine the boxes in our attic with the help of a torch, and a supportive other. Once those boxes are slowly and carefully unpacked, things can be processed, used, or discarded.
In doing so, there is less weight bearing down upon the structure of the whole house. Things can feel lighter, easier and more spacious. This space allows for new things to develop, relationships, attitudes and ways-of-being.
How is it possible to start talking about emotions?
Psychotherapy, counselling, and talking therapy seeks to build a safe container, where fears and vulnerabilities can be explored with a trusted other. For more information on psychotherapy and counselling in Harley St, London W1, please get in touch.