PREVIOUS: ACoAs & Emotions (Part 1)
SITE: Emotions Are Physical
INCLUDES “Signs You May Be Afraid of Your Emotions”
1. Expressing strong Es in public too obviously is usually looked down on or made fun of – in the theater it’s called ‘chewing the scenery’ (think Captain Kirk) but is acceptable if we’re at a ballgame or rock concert. We remember how Jackie Kennedy was endlessly praised for her stoicism at JFK’s funeral.
2. On the other hand, when someone shows NO sign of emotion, it will be read by others as an indication that:
a. the thing spoken of is not important, as when :
= someone carries on about a topic too intellectually, or is just talking BS
= someone talks in a monotone (flat affect), a neutral voice or with a smile about very painful events – the way many ACoAs talk about their traumatic childhood, or newscasters reports a tragedy.
The listener may just gloss over it or not actually ‘hear’ the info!
b. that they’re a ‘cold’ fish, heartless, even psychopathic, such as if a person has no emotional reaction to the news of their child being horribly killed, or told they’ve lost everything in a disaster
c. OR if someone expresses no Es about an event or person –
it can imply that they disapprove of it / them, like when there’s complete silence from an audience toward a performance or a public figure, or we ignore a friend or spouse…..
Regardless of the actual reason for a person not adding emotional subtext to their communication (boredom, exhaustion, sickness, shock, shyness, shut down, terror….), the average observer is looking for some cue to the value & relevance of what they’re hearing from or seeing in another person – which would help them know how they themselves should feel & respond
Everyone does unconsciously telegraph their true feelings – even the reticent & the repressed – by micro-expressions of the face & throat muscles (as well as other physical signs like a clenched fist, leaning forward or back, slouching….).
Normally, both sender & receiver of these tiny movements are unaware of them, but astute observers can pick them up anyway & respond internally, if not outwardly. As in the “Lie to Me” TV series, anyone trained to carefully read them can identify what someone else is feeling / experiencing
1. Toward ourselves – we were thoroughly trained to ignore our own experiences (intuition, emotions & thinking), that we’ve suppressed (NOT lost) the ability to know what we feel, becoming numb to this level of information, from both feelings & body sensations
• Because involuntary muscle contractions are such subtle cues to someone’s emotional state, and –
• we’re just as thoroughly been taught to deny / ignore what we hear & see from others, unfortunately:
— we don’t even notice these interaction, BUT
— if we do pick up the cues from others (what they’re actually telling us about themselves), we don’t trust what we’ve seen, & then talk ourselves out of the implications.
This is one reason we’re greatly handicapped in understanding & dealing with others. Fortunately, we can change this!
2b. Ironically, as kids in a chaotic, abusive environment – we became overly focused on how the adults were feeling, in an understandable desire to protect ourselves. Their every nuance became signals – are they going to beat me, fall asleep drunk, stay in bed depressed or “sick”, be in a rage & get ready for a fight…..
Our goal was to placate the monsters & stop the abuse. This never worked! so one conclusion was that we’re a failure at understating moods and ‘fixing pain’.
SO NOW – it’s hard for us to know :
• what someone is actually telling us. We easily misread their meaning or motives
• what we feel emotionally about their communication – we react from internal wounds instead of responding to present info
• how to respond appropriately, so our actions are too harsh or too weak
Because of our ‘limited vision’, when someone is verbally insensitive or mean, we don’t feel the emotional punch in the stomach until sometime later if at all, & then are more likely to feel scared, or maybe get angry but blame ourselves!
NEXT: The Body & Emotions (Part 3)