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emotionally unaware

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Leslie, Jan 21, 2013.

  1. Leslie

    Leslie Well known member

    How do you move through repressed emotions when you don't have any idea what they are? I started noticing that my response (to myself) to things like the "questions to ponder" in the SEP seems to be "I don't know". Recently I took an emotional intelligence test and scored a 56 out of 100 (which is not good). This morning I decided to look back at my journal entries to see if I can make heads or tails of what even one of my core issues might be. What I'm realizing is that I don't seem to write about actual feelings very often, and if I do they're feelings in the past tense. My entries read more like news reports, situational details - that sort of thing.

    I've read The Mindbody Prescription, I'm reading Healing Back Pain now. I plan to read The Divided Mind next. I'm on day 20 of the SEP and my pain is not as severe as it was a month ago but this same pattern happened last year at this time (had no idea about TMS then). The pain got really bad in October, stayed that way for awhile, then started getting better late December. My doctor was actually the one to recognize the pattern and suggest there may be an emotional component, which is how I ended up finding this website (which is great BTW). Additionally, I have struggled with anxiety and depression throughout most of my life.

    It seems I am very disconnected from my emotions. The last thing I want to be good at is repressing, but it looks to me as if I may be an expert at it, How am I ever going to get rid of this physical pain if I can't make an emotional connection with myself?
  2. honeybear424

    honeybear424 Well known member

    Hi Leslie,

    Since last February when I found Dr. Sarno, I have read all three of his books, Dr. Schubiner's, Dr. Clarke's, and Dr. Brady's. It was the last one...Pain Free For Life, by Dr. Scott Brady, that inspired me to commit to the journaling. I have stuck with it for 10 weeks now and, though I am by no means "pain free", I am seeing slight improvement, which is enough to keep me a believer. If you are stuck on what or how to journal, Dr. Brady gives a good list of questions you can ponder as you sit down with your pen and pad. Try to think about relationships with your parents or siblings, spouse, children, or friends. What was it like growing up in the house you grew up in? What was life like with your mother? What was life like with your father? What were your parents' expectations of you? What are you most ashamed of in your life? What are you most guilty about? Things like this can really get you going. You will soon see that the pen almost begins to take on a life of its own as emotions start rolling onto the paper. As you can see, I highly recommend Dr. Brady's book. I was a stubborn one and didn't think I could ever get into the practice of daily journaling, but I am a definite convert! I know it is crucial for me in my recovery. I have repressed for far too long and I am determined to heal my life.

    Good luck!
    Valerie :)
  3. gailnyc

    gailnyc Well known member

    Leslie, I have the same problem as you. Did you do the thing in the SEP where you're supposed to come up with three lists, one of significant past events, one of current issues, and one of personality traits? I found that very helpful, especially the list of past events. I am able to remember past significant/traumatic events, but I think I'm "over" them until I start writing. Then I realize I am not really over them at all. I've found it a good way to get in touch with my emotions.
  4. Leslie

    Leslie Well known member

    Thank you both! Valerie, sounds like I could learn a lot from Dr. Brady. I will make his book next on my list (going to be on a first name basis with the ladies at the library soon!). In the meantime I will try to draw from the list of questions you included in your post, although I have to admit as I was reading through them my mind was already responding with "I don't know" to several of them. I have benefited from journaling in the past so I'm definitely not giving up on it. I can't help but wonder if part of my struggle now is that I'm "hunting" for my triggers and core issues. Previously when I was instructed to journal I knew the exact event/trigger/issue I was trying to overcome.

    I have done (or at least tried) the list making in the SEP. I agree they are very helpful, but I really struggle to make them (especially the current stress and personality traits), it's almost as if I don't know myself at all. Sometimes I think I have hidden myself so well from everyone that I am even hidden from myself now - if that makes any sense. Some of the issues on the "past" list are ones that I journaled extensively about previously. Those are the ones I find read the most like news reports, with any reference to feelings being in the past tense. My sister and husband both suggested my "emotional neutrality" on some of these issues may be a good thing, indicating that I have successfully moved past them and can focus my attention elsewhere.
  5. gailnyc

    gailnyc Well known member

    That is very possible. I found myself in this position last night--I was writing about something painful from my past, but I just couldn't work up much emotion about it now. I sometimes wonder if it's not actually counterproductive to dredge up some of this stuff from the past just to rehash it again. I don't know. On the other hand, I have found myself getting surprisingly emotional about some of the stuff I've written about.
  6. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    When I was making my lists for the SEP, I found myself saying "oh, don't write THAT down - that's not important". For some reason, I decided that I really needed to force myself to write those particular things down, no matter how unimportant my brain was trying to make me think they were. As it turned out, that was EXACTLY what was going on.

    I can assure you, I had a very nice and safe childhood, and those incidents and memories that I forced myself to write down really were very insignificant, and they did not reveal anything at all dramatic or traumatic. What they did reveal, typically, was feelings of embarrassment, fear, anger, isolation, disappointment - all those little moments from childhood in which my inner child felt thwarted, abandoned, threatened, and ashamed - and these are all the little things that the psychotherapists tell us are the emotional building blocks for how we react to the world as adults.

    It was very revealing!

    tarala and veronica73 like this.
  7. Leslie

    Leslie Well known member

    It is comforting to know I am not the only one to struggle with the lists. I am all to familiar with the direction from myself to leave something off the list. My anxiety level shot up 150% the first time the SEP included making these lists. I was frozen. My mind was blank and when something would come into my mind I'd talk myself out of writing it. I am such a prisoner to the policeman in my head that I couldn't even make a list. I am such a harsh critic of myself that I think I was 99% certain that some higher "list authority" was going to materialize and critique my list and it wouldn't be good enough. Although the thoughts are painfully slow to arrive most of the time, I have managed to call a truce with the policeman in my head. We have reached an agreement that if the idea shows up, it goes on the list - no analysis required. This way I don't have to stress if I've left off something that might be the key to unlock the pain free body and if it really wasn't important it makes for a rare, relaxing journaling experience.
    tarala and JanAtheCPA like this.
  8. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Honeybear, you are right on with the posting about journaling. Before I began doing mine I doubted it would be much help,
    or why not just think about the repressed emotions. But writing them down, as you and Dr. Brady suggest, really tells the
    unconscious and it does listen. I had so many re-emot that it took a few months to be rid of the pain, but it happened.
    Bless you and all.
    honeybear424 likes this.
  9. Lori

    Lori Well known member

    If you are having trouble feeling, I suggest something simple for a few days, which really made me aware of emotions. The first time I did this it felt odd and I struggled to come up with feelings, but I got the hang of it and then feelings spewed!

    put I FEEL in front of these words see what you get:
    I FEEL ANGRY, then go with sad, afraid, guilty

    I remember thinking "I'm not angry about anything" but I let it sit for a few minutes and yes, I'm sure I came up with something. Remember that annoyed or irritated has anger underneath, so if you can say I'm irritated. . . you can likely find anger under the irritated.

    When it's new to us it takes some practice but I did get the hang of it quickly!
  10. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I'll try this, Lori.

    My car won't start and the garage I go to is closed and I don't have the repair money anyway
    so I will probably just let the car sit in my garage for a week until my Social Security check is in my bank.
    I'll figure out how to pay the mortgage afterwards.

    It's frustrating and I am angry, buy hey, it's not life-treatening. I'm even laughing about it.

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