Tag Archives: abuse

What’s wrong with these emotions?

10 Feb

Here’s a quick rundown of the emotions that society tends to refer to as the “negative emotions” or the “bad emotions”.  Take a minute to see why in fact they are not “bad” and discover the functions they serve.   Author Pia Mellody reminds us of the most important thing to remember.  Feeling healthy emotions is a positive experience.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of our emotions, as long as they are expressed in a healthy, functional way and not an abusive one.  As part of the equipment we need to live life fully and functionally, each of our emotions has a specific purpose.

Anger gives us the strength we need to do what is necessary to take care of ourselves.  Anger enables us to assert ourselves and be who we are.  We can use healthy anger to our own best interest by facing it and expressing it in non-abusive ways (either to ourselves or others).

Fear helps us protect ourselves.  When we feel fear, we become alert to the possibility of danger in our environment from which we need to protect ourselves.  Healthy fear keeps us from getting into situations and relationships that would not be in our own best interest.

Pain motivates us to grow toward increasing maturity.  Normal healthy lives are full of pain-producing problems, and feeling the pain produces growth.  A functional person uses pain as a means to work through problems, heal from their effects, gain the wisdom that comes out of painful situations, and continue in the maturing process.  Repressing the pain and not facing it or medicating it in some way keeps us injured and immature.

Guilt is a healthy warning system telling us we have transgressed a value we consider to be important.  Feeling guilt helps us change our behavior and get back to living up to our values.

Shame gives us a sense of humility that lets us know we are not the Higher Power.  Healthy shame reminds us that we are fallible and that we need to learn to be accountable and responsible.  Shame also helps us to correct our areas of fallibility that impact others and society adversely.  This process helps us to accept the rest of our imperfection as part of our normal, healthy humanity.  We can also relate to a Higher Power in a healthy way that is necessary to live as a responsible mature adult.  We experience shame whenever we notice ourselves making a mistake or being imperfect.

There is purpose in everything we feel.  I encourage you to feel the emotions and use them the way they were intended.  You are not experiencing any feeling that hasn’t been felt by countless others.  Instead of running from it, ask someone else how they moved through it.  Seek guidance from your higher power and get ready to grow.

Setting Boundaries: Keeping out the Emotional Contagion

12 Jul

Setting boundaries is more than just learning to say “no”. Boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify for him or herself what are reasonable, safe, and permissible ways for other people to behave around him or her and how he or she will respond when someone steps outside those limits. They are built out of a mix of beliefs, opinions, attitudes, past experiences and social learning.

Personal boundaries define you as an individual, outlining your likes and dislikes, and setting the distances you allow others to approach.

They include physical, mental, psychological, and spiritual boundaries, involving beliefs, emotions, intuitions and self-esteem.

Soft – A person with soft boundaries merges with other people’s boundaries. Someone with soft boundaries is easily manipulated.

Spongy – A person with spongy boundaries is like a combination of having soft and rigid boundaries. They permit less emotional contagion that soft boundaries but more than rigid. People with spongy boundaries are unsure of what to let in and what to keep out.

Rigid – A person with rigid boundaries is closed or walled off so nobody can get close to him/her either physically or emotionally. This is often the case if someone has been physically, emotionally, psychologically, or sexually abused. Rigid boundaries can be selective which depend on time, place, or circumstances and are usually based on a bad previous experience with a similar situation.

Flexible – This is the ideal. Similar to selective rigid boundaries but the person has more control. The person decides what to let in and what to keep out, and is resistant to emotional contagion or manipulation and is difficult to exploit.

Setting boundaries takes work. It takes really knowing who you are and what you’ve been through. Spend some time processing your experiences, what you liked and didn’t like. Sometimes we have to go through the “ick” to know we don’t want to go through it again. Accept it as a life lesson and a reason to set new boundaries.

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