31/05/2022 0 Comments
EMOTIONAL CHAIN REACTION!
We all do it: make a small gaff at a Zoom meeting or gathering or party and – HORROR OF HORRORS!
All I can see is that everyone here is laughing at me, thinking: “Look at that stupid, thick fool!”
Emotions instantly go nuclear. I want to hit myself, beat my head against a wall! Shame, rage against myself for being so stupid stupid STUPID!
Everything that went before, everything after is just a fog. All that exists is the feeling of being peeled back to a core of shame and worthlessness.
SO WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED?
My thinking has shrunk to a dense micro-dot of shame. All I can think of is what they are all thinking about me! My mind has created a nightmare fantasy in which everyone else in the place is riveted to my deficient behaviour. I’m permitting them no separate reality other than the reality I have projected on to then.
And what a sour, unkind reality that is; a reality where everyone else is indulging in mean, hurtful thoughts about ME, everyone sniggering into their sleeves at my stupid, pathetic mistake.
FROM WHAT DARK CORNER OF THE MIND DOES THIS DRAMA ARISE?
This reaction can usually be traced back to an early childhood incident: Mother/significant other says, acts, or reacts with impatience, frustration, anger just as the infant you is crying out for affirmation, love, comfort.
Infant isn’t yet able to reason that there’s mother/other having a hissy fit. Infant experiences deep existential despair: “ I’m not worth loving. I am REJECTABLE.”
THE OVERWHELMING EMOTION IS: “I AM REJECTABLE!”
And because this kind of event is usually pre-verbal, with no possible way of expressing or rationalising it, the experience is an all-encompassing, deadly emotion.
The event passes. Then later a teacher or peer makes a sarcastic or disparaging comment.
REACTING IN THE PRESENT WITH EMOTIONS FROM YOUR PAST
This triggers the early infant emotion, and now you react to this incident in the present with the same paralysing negative emotion that you experienced back at the very beginning.
EMOTIONAL CHAIN REACTION
Now, anytime you say the ‘wrong’ thing, or do something out of place, or your comment receive a blanking response, the emotions instantly ping to that First Event.
This causes a Chain Reaction, in which the mind collects all the negative energy from every similar experience, then implodes in that devastating self-rejecting shame storm that most of us are familiar with.
There’s no curing this in any conventional sense. However, simply shifting from total IDENTITY with the problem feeling, to OBSERVING it as an interesting psychological phenomenon, can loosen your conviction of being at the centre of a disaster.
IF I CAN SEE IT, I CAN’T BE IT
The most useful phrase for managing Chain Reaction emotions is: ‘THERE IT IS AGAIN’.
Saying this little statement puts you into OBSERVER mode: there IT is. Not me.
THE MIND IS INCAPABLE OF OBSERVING AN EMOTION AND FULLY EXPERIENCING IT AT THE SAME TIME
The wonderful thing about becoming the observer of your emotions is that the mind is incapable of observing an emotion and fully experiencing the emotion at the same time’
THERE IT IS AGAIN!
There IT is again! Ho hum, just another one of those old, un-useful emotions from the past acting out in the present.
It doesn’t get rid of the emotion, but it really does loosen your conviction of its reality, allowing the drama to drain away so you can regain a reasonable perspective on the situation, and allow all those other people to lose the circus villain caricature you had projected onto them, so they are free to emerge into their ordinary, un-dramatic selves.