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Sunday March 27,2005: No Time for Wimps

        In looking through recent entries, I might have given the impression that I spend all my time focused on dredging up negative emotions. In truth, I have little patience with pity parties. I think one should "get it out, deal with it, and get on with life." That’s a step beyond ‘picking yourself up and getting back in the game.’ I’m against the times when one focuses on words, actions and deeds to the total exclusion of emotions. On the other hand, one must be practical in dealing with negative emotions.

        When you’re in the midst of a crisis, the first priority should always be getting through the situation. It does no good to break down and become a blubbering idiot. The first rule of life should be survival – realistically critiquing the situation and reviewing options, picking the best outcome (you want your response to be something you can live with afterward), and following boldly through on the necessary action. Getting support and encouragement from friends and family is fine, but at the end of the day you need to deal with your own problems.

        People who get stuck or paralyzed in the middle of a situation are hung up on emotions. They sit inside a dense cloud of feelings and can’t see their way out. We may all run into some crisis where we find ourselves temporarily immobilized. The trick is not to be a wimp who stays lost in the cloud.

        Step back far enough to put a name on your emotion. One book even suggested saying, "it (the body) is feeling..."as a way of gaining objectivity. Break an overwhelming emotion down into several smaller components, if that helps.

        Accept that it’s okay to feel what you’re feeling, and then shift your attention back to the situation itself. In spite of emotions, what actions can you take to deal with some aspect of the problem? You don’t have to worry about fixing the entire situation. Taking one small step to get yourself in action dissipates much of that dense cloud.

        Afterward, especially if you remain haunted by guilt or fear or hurt, it’s wise to revisit the situation and how or why you responded. Give yourself credit for making the best decision you could at the time. Go easy on yourself if you now realize you were acting like a jerk or a fool. You were responding based on the past attitudes and opinions and behavior patterns. If the resulting action wasn’t ideal, then you can take the opportunity now to create new patterns of behavior.

         If you’ve tripped over your own feet, if you’ve stuck your foot in your mouth, if you’ve just stabbed someone in the back – it may be too late to repair the damage. Accept it as a learning experience and figure out how a better way to handle similar situations in the future. Far better -- figure out the defense system and belief system that made you respond in a less than desirable manner to this last occurrence. Then work to resolve the deep issues that keep you from being the kind of person you want to be.

         Removing old defense systems requires time and energy. If you’re an extrovert, this type of work ranks right up there with eating worms. Actually, if you’re an extrovert you may not even stop to consider how you acted in the past, but you should. Working through old issues will make you more effective and efficient in future activities.

         If you lean more in the introvert direction, then perhaps you’ve probably already learned that taking time and effort to find inner peace and harmony removes stresses that otherwise pop up in the everyday world. It’s a trade-off: time and effort to remove a defense system versus struggling with problems created when the defense system is left in place.

        What I’m against are people who don’t address their emotions and keep dragging them around, because --as a psychic – their emotions can become my problem. From my very earliest memories of childhood, I can remember being able to see people’s hurt and pain. It took years to learn to block most of this from my daily awareness, and I still don’t do well in large crowds for extended periods of time (the length of time depends of the crowd).

         I’ve learned that people carry emotional pain in several ways. I’m okay with people who know they are in emotional pain but are trying to put on a brave front. They present an up-front, painful situation for me, but I can deal with it. In these cases, I let my sympathy and empathy flow freely (I often find tears appearing in my eyes long before they let their own emotions out).

        I’ve learned from long years of experience that their emotions should be addressed, shared and comforted, and I have no hesitation in being there as a support person. People in these situations are usually moving through a grieving process and eventually come to terms with the conditions that remain in their life. Once they’ve released the overpowering emotions, they pick up the pieces and move on.

        There are other types who are not so easy to deal with, whose pain I don’t want to look at. The first type is the chronic victim – a person who clings to his or her sadness or hurt as a means of getting attention. In my earlier days, I tried to offer support and sympathy, only to learn these people were like limitless sponges -- continually soaking up the energy of everyone around them and never resolving the underlying problems. I learned the hard way not to waste my own energy.

         I think my biggest irritation with these chronic victims is that the problems they present for public support are really superficial pain; there is a tough barrier underlying the publicly visable suffering that carefully and methodically protects private fears and pains. Those deeper pains and fears develop a tainted, twisted element to them, perhaps because they are continually being activated to create outer problems. I don’t want to have to keep looking at that garbage if the real issues are never going to be dragged into the light of day.

         Wait. I know you may be thinking, "There is an actual problem in their lives and I would hate to be in their situation." That compassion is justified and holds true only for normal people. I’m talking about people who go through year after year of problems arising. They are always arriving on your doorstep with another crisis, needing emotional, financial or physical support. No matter how much you want to be a compassionate human being, it doesn’t take long to realize the disaster people bring on themselves when they stubbornly cling to dysfunctional lifestyles.

        For these people, I’ve learned to keep up my emotion-blockers. I sit back, ask what their options are (instead of offering possibilities), and then ask what they plan to do about it. I’ll go as far as offering encouragement but no way will I jump in to help fix the problem. Nor will I spend day after day listening to the same complaints. What I really want to tell these people is to "suck it up and get on with life." There is a big difference between feeling sorrow, pain or anger and needing to work your way to the other side of an emotion, versus holding it up as an excuse or plea for sympathy.

         This may sound rough, almost bitter on my part, but I hate watching people suffer needlessly. Bring the dang feeling out into the light of reason and get rid of it. Then I won’t have to look at it or expend my energy trying to politely ignore the hidden torment you refuse to acknowledge.

          Of course, this type of frustration only applies to chronic victims. There are people even more creative in hiding their fears and suffering. To be continued....

Posted on Sunday, March 27, 2005 at 10:44AM by Registered CommenterThe Skeptical Mystic | CommentsPost a Comment

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