Thursday, February 3, 2011

Decoding our Emotional Messages

If our emotions contain important information for us, why do we often ignore them? One obvious reason--emotions are disruptive and distressing. Another reason is that our emotions are often hard to decode. A dear friend was irate at the loss of a packaged “Anniversary Barbie doll.” She wanted to deny her anger (it embarrassed her) but her rage remained. What did it mean? After some delving, we discovered that she had unconsciously created a daydream that this Barbie would be a collector’s item and worth “big bucks.” This was, objectively, not likely. But even if “Debra’s” emotions weren’t giving her accurate info about her outer reality, they were giving her vital info. Debra realized just how fearful she was about her finances and retirement.

Another example is a client who continued to feel rage toward her supervisor. “Jean” created many excuses for her anger but over time, talking to good friends and writing in her journal, she began to realize that she was really feeling anger towards her mother. This unresolved anger was now being directed at another woman who reminded Jean (subconsciously) of her mother. The emotion signaled that Jean needed to resolve those early feelings. Once she was able to understand what her anger was really about, she felt a new peace and work and was able to apologize and build a great relationship to her supervisor. Jean’s emotions weren’t “wrong.” They just contained information that needed decoding.
© 2011 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

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