Monday, October 3, 2011

Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D. - Why We Hide Emotional Pain

Hiding emotional pain - I know women do it, too, but men are taught to be experts at hiding our emotions in general, and our pain in particular. It's not healthy, and it causes infinite problems in relationships.

Dr. Leon Seltzer who blogs at Psychology Today - his blog is Evolution of the Self - recently posted a good article on why we hide emotional pain. Check it out.

Why We Hide Emotional Pain

Strong people won't let themselves cry, right?

Published on September 28, 2011 by Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D. in Evolution of the Self

Who hasn't had the experience of asking someone whether anything is wrong--for it's blatantly obvious from their expression or tone of voice that they're upset--only to have them respond: "No, I'm fine."? In such instances, clearly they're not fine but retreating into themselves to avoid a dialogue they fear might end up making them feel worse.

Tendencies toward denial, withdrawal, and self-isolation are common in reaction to deeply felt emotional pain. In fact, one clue that a person is feeling distressed may be in their becoming unusually quiet or shut down. Such silence speaks volumes, and generally the message is: "I'm not going to risk your hurting me more than you already have . . . so I'm putting a wall between us." On the contrary, it's also possible that the individual might suddenly become fidgety, restless, or hyper--attempting through activity to distract themselves from the hurt your words or behavior (however inadvertently) have caused them. Or they might unexpectedly lose their appetite, or start eating voraciously to "stuff" their feelings or numb their pain. And so on. After all, we have at our disposal all sorts of defenses to protect us from hurting.

The Many Varieties of Emotional Pain
Before going further, let's summarize all the different experiences associated with keenly felt emotional pain. Though the list below doesn't aim to be exhaustive, it probably includes most of the self-referencing assumptions or interpretations that lead to emotional wounding. All of these items relate to feeling, or somehow being made to feel:
  • Unworthy or worthless 
  • Disapproved of, invalidated, or rejected
  • Not listened to or understood
  • Like a non-entity--or invisible
  • Unloved, not cared about or wanted
  • Insulted, disparaged, disrespected, distrusted, devalued, or discounted
  • Aggressed against, taken advantage of; betrayed
  • Inadequate, defective, incompetent, behind the curve, inferior or looked down upon, unacceptable
  • Slow, stupid, foolish or silly; contemptible
  • Dishonorable or cowardly
  • Embarrassed or humiliated
  • Weak, helpless, or defenseless
  • Undeserving of time, attention, or recognition
  • Like a failure; "loser"
  • Guilty, shameful--or a bad person generally
If any of those look familiar to you from your own life, you might like to go read the rest of the post.

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