Friday, October 18, 2013
I ran across an article by Leon Seltzer regarding emotional pain. He included a list of self-referencing assumptions or interpretations that lead to emotional wounding. It is an intimidating collection of feelings:
1. Unworthy or worthless
2. Disapproved of, invalidated, or rejected
3. Not listened to or understood
4. Like a non-entity--or invisible
5. Unloved, not cared about or wanted
6. Insulted, disparaged, disrespected, distrusted, devalued, or discounted
7. Aggressed against, taken advantage of; betrayed
8. Inadequate, defective, incompetent, behind the curve, inferior or looked down
9. Slow, stupid, foolish or silly; contemptible
10. Dishonorable or cowardly
11. Embarrassed or humiliated
12. Weak, helpless, or defenseless
13. Undeserving of time, attention, or recognition
14. Like a failure; "loser"
15. Guilty, shameful--or a bad person generally
When someone is experiencing one or more of the items on this list, they often keep it quiet. There are good reasons for this. We hide our emotional frailty to avoid appearing pathetic to others. If other people see you as weak, bad things can happen. Even more interesting - we hide these emotions from ourselves, too. Admitting self-loathing generates a feeling of powerlessness, incompetence. So we deny these emotions if we can. We hide our vulnerabilities and tender emotions because we are afraid - of being judged by others, of being rendered helpless by our own pain. Withdrawal and silence can feel self-protective, but it really isn't a good long term strategy. The challenge is to find the ability to regard these emotions for what they are - perhaps valid, perhaps not, but not subject to acceptance or rejection by others. Seltzer talks about "psychological courage" - the ability to honestly and unashamedly admit our needs and fears.
Our emotions can't victimize us unless we give them the power to do so.