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Monday, June 3, 2013

Throwback Motivational Monday: Who Needs Emotions?

Thought for the Day: Let's face it. Emotions are tough! Who needs anger, sadness, rage, or jealousy? Many of my clients have spent their lives trying to avoid confrontations. Others can't seem to stop getting into fights with family & friends. You may be wondering who needs emotions, since they seem to just complicate relationships. I just finished making the above image which looks like a poster for a science fiction movie, but I made it while thinking about a client of mine from many years ago. I'd like to use it as part of an illustration about emotions, so bear with me.

Here's an important post from back in June which I decided to repost today. Have a great start of the week!

I'd like you to imagine that you are about 13 years old & growing up Jewish in Europe. You live with your mother, father, 5 sisters & brothers in a suburb of Krakow Poland (Krakow had 237,000 residents with at around 60,000 Jewish citizens). Your parents each have 4 siblings & they too have several children living in your neighborhood. When your family gets together for holidays your family is joined by 30 or 40 cousins of varying ages, 8 aunts & uncles & your grand parents at the gatherings. Your friends & neighbors have similar families. You go to school with hundreds of your friends & family members. Not long after your thirteenth birthday, war breaks out & the family is uprooted. You are separated from your relatives & end up in work camps & finally in a concentration camp struggling to survive. When the war ends you are 17 years old. You walk hundreds of miles to get back home. When you arrive, you discover that you are the sole Jewish survivor of your entire neighborhood. You go to a bar & get drunk. The next day, you leave your home town & never look back. You do not shed a tear & vow to forget everything that happened to you before the age of 17.

This was the true story of a client of mine in Israel (although I am not sure the town was Krakow, I simply used it to give a sense what my client experienced) . He did not come to therapy for himself. He came when his 13 year old son was hospitalized in a school for emotionally disturbed children. His son was out of touch with his emotions. The staff used to say that the boy was like a "robot." Both of his parents were survivors of the holocaust. The child was paying the price of their need to avoid their emotions at all costs. With help the parents & their son were able to start working through the powerfully difficult emotions they had been trying to avoid.

Who needs emotions? We all do. Emotions are not right or wrong, good or bad, they just are part of being human. If you are alive & human, emotions can help cope with the challenges of life.  As the heartbreaking pictures come in from Oklahoma, how can people cope without tears & hugs? As the survivors from Boston heal from the trauma of the bombings, should they try not to feel their anger? Emotions help us express the pain, anger, sorrow, regret & fears so that we can find our way back to life. If we try not to feel the negative feelings, we may survive, but may lose the positive feelings that we want to have. It takes a lot of energy to repress negative feelings & there may not be energy left for the positive emotions of joy & happiness. One theory proposes that depression is anger turned inwards. Avoiding emotions may be one of the things that keeps you from being motivated to follow your dreams.

Are there emotions that you have been trying to avoid? Have you found ways to express them? What has helped you? By sharing your experiences, you may help someone recognize their own blocks & start finding ways to deal with their emotions.

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