27 Dec GROW UP!
Play with the perception that everyone you meet is a child stuck in the age between 3-8 with an unsatisfied emotional need making them do this or that. Especially use the perception when someone is acting in a seemingly unnatural or disconnecting way. If we can agree on the fact that we are driven by two primary emotional states in all we do (positive or negative / growth or retraction /love or fear) then we can maybe also agree that anything that will distant the person from you (reactions invoking anger, separation or simply the need of comparison as just a couple of examples) are coming from an emotional state that is negative (i.e. not growth, not love).
Why is the reaction taking place? It is a reactive response to a situation, to an event, to a signal from the external environment. The negative response is used when we perceive the signal as a threat to survival. If the signal is not an actual danger to your existence (as it rarely is these days), why do you perceive it as a threat? If you have the impression (or subconscious belief) that something will kill you, it is because it is the contrast to being alive.
Make sense? So the opposite to survival is the risk of dying and that is enhanced by a lack of connection or a feeling of isolation. The more we feel separated from others, the stronger the feeling of isolation becomes: it makes us feel disconnected, numb and depressed. As if the world all of a sudden had a grey filter and nothing seems to touch our heart. What if today’s reactions on a global scale of a generation is a response to unmet emotional needs from childhood? When something is unsolved, we get stuck on it like a broken record and the pin of the record player. We might look like we progress, evolve, grow up….. but inside we don’t. Inside, we are the 5 year old who experience guilt, shame and grief for the first time as our emotional needs aren’t being met.
What do you need in those moments of negative emotional response? Imagine that you could hit “pause” when the feeling starts crawling up from your gut to your heart and spreads in your whole body, leaving a sensation of weakness, of being paralysed, of stiffness. You would notice that it most probably stems from a need of approval, being seen, accepted, feeling included and acknowledged. Basically, an acknowledgement of your existence. Connection. Love.
Parents easily dismiss children’s negative emotional responses with different excuses (one of my favourite one’s is the typical French expression from a parent to an angry child “arrete ton cinema” – basically “you are making this up to get attention”) and then leave them be with the assumption that this will teach the child a valuable lesson. It is even commonly known that if we constantly attend to the child’s need of attention, the child is spoiled.
But the spoiled child is not one that has been given attention and love from the parent when negative emotions are being expressed. It is when the parent uses external things to answer to that reaction. If the child is used to get something when upset, it will ask for things each time this happens because it has learnt that it is the way to get attention and love from the parent. Let me remind you: the negative reaction comes from a need of survival.
So the child screaming himself red in the face at the grocery store is not really that hungry for cookies as for the parent’s attention because it confirms his EXISTENCE. It demands that the parent actually shows an interest for the child as a BEING.
Even if it is a very small variation of a human, it is still a human. With needs to be heard, seen, felt and understood.
THE TROUBLE WE ARE IN.
The way our parents handled our emotional reactions, is how we will react to other people’s emotions. And it has been there for some time. So it’s deeply rooted in the part of us that rules us. The subconscious. Anything that is tucked away will be repeated since we don’t know that we’re doing it. So unless you’re ready to take a look in the mirror and say “hey there, time to heal that child” you’ll still react like you did and you’ll still scream for those cookies even though all you want is to be loved for who you really are.
By Charlotte Skogsberg