Posted by David Amstell 1342 Days Ago
People have a finite capacity for emotion which varies for each individual and, from time to time, in the same individual. Each of us can cope with irritation, aggravation and provocation to a limit, after which we have three choices:
1. To constructively express our emotions (I am frustrated with you because...).
2. To control them (I am frustrated but it is inappropriate to express it at the moment).
3. To repress them (I will not acknowledge my frustration).
The first depends on prevailing circumstances and the freedom we feel we have to express anger constructively and comfortably having no regard to the risk in so doing. It must be realised that anger is a normal emotion which probably evolved to protect us from enemies. Usually this is the choice amongst real friends.
The second is employed when the consequences of expressing emotions are likely to lead to an undesirable outcome. For example, it would be foolish to express anger to a policeman who has stopped your car for speeding or at a breath test. The likely outcome may be a night in a police cell.
The third can be shown to be extremely dangerous to our emotional and physical health. If we repress our emotions long enough, we certainly will become depressed and in time our health will suffer. Consider that we can accept the notion of the capacity to handle an emotion as a bucket. The size of the bucket may depend on the background of each individual. See the illustration below:
Unexpressed emotions will ultimately accumulate, unless they are expressed directly at the cause or indirectly at a substitute. The previous illustration will indicate graphically what the process is. Consider our ability to contain our emotions which can be seen in the form of a bucket open at the top.
The question we must now ask is: what will happen if the capacity to contain the emotion is exhausted? Emotional overload can present itself in a variety of psychological and physiological problems, such as depression, unexplainable health issues, and symptoms of varying degrees that will not go away with regular medical intervention.
Let us now look at the options and consequences. The most usual emotions that need attention from the therapeutic point of view are anger, guilt / shame, grief and fear. The first and last being associated with our physical survival are most powerful. Anger and fear create a surge of adrenalin and activate additional energy for the flight and fight response.
Let us look at some illustrations of the usual conditions presented by angry individuals. We all have a finite capacity to deal with continuing anger. The options are illustrated below:
Options are as follows:
1. Slow Release: This condition is illustrated best by the individual who always seems angry out of proportion to the conditions prevailing at the time.
2. Repression: When faced with continual repression of anger depression or anxiety is the most likely result.
3. The eruption: This is the reaction exemplified by the massacres all too frequently witnessed in contemporary Western society.
This situation applies to some other unexpressed emotions with varying outcomes. When capacity to deal with grief is exceeded it can lead to an emotional collapse (nervous breakdown). When capacity to deal with guilt is exceeded it can lead to suicide or self-abuse. When capacity to deal with fear is exceeded it can lead to hysterical paralysis of body or limbs. Below are some of the most frequent stacks encountered in clinical situations.
Often we find that we use anger to screen out other emotions. Anger can also screen out fear as, for instance, in the case of a mother defending a child from an antagonist much bigger and stronger than herself. I have been told of the case where a soldier in New Guinea in WW2 pinned down by enemy machine-gun fire became so angry that he vacated the trench in which he was safe and successfully attempted to rush and take out the machine-gun nest throwing hand grenades until he dropped dead with 34 bullets in his head and torso. An observer claimed he must have been dead at least five paces before he dropped to the ground. Rage had overcome fear of certain death.
2. If we reduce unresolved emotions to a minimum, happiness will be a frequent intermittent emotion in our lives (the default state of mind).
Where guilt and fear are temporarily ignored as occurs when enjoying a vacation.
If, however, we have a plethora of unresolved emotions we will experience very little happiness in our everyday living.
Hello My Name is David Amstell, I am a qualified and sensitive, hypnotherapist, and I help people like yourself to overcome life limiting issues. Many clients have come to me to lose weight, stop smoking, become free of fears or phobias, become free from addictions and habits, behavioural problems, relationship or... [read more]