There will be many people who come across this post who are stuck. Stuck in life generally but specifically in relationships that are abusive, dysfunctional and with people who care very little about them. They will complain, sometimes medicate themselves, often seek therapy but the urge to stay exactly where they are is overwhelmingly strong. Strong enough not to be able to see or manage what many people around them can see for the obvious… that it is best to move on.
Logically, they often understand but there is always an emotional argument to counter this and this is the side that mostly keeps a codependent in particular, hanging on in there until the bitter end, which is usually very bitter. This battle between logic and emotion is one that must be won if reason is to prevail and I find this particular struggle the biggest challenge when working with codependents.
I firmly believe that when we react emotionally, we are accessing the deepest parts of our psyche, the subconscious. Any emotion that we feel comes from there and is by nature irrational. This is the part of us that has all the raw emotion, the conditioning and the experience we have had. It is the place where the parenting style we were subjected to has the greatest effect. The place where we generally find difficult to regulate, where we become overwhelmed, where we are reactive and irrational. Just as in our childhood days, we are clueless, vulnerable and looking for direction. When we react emotionally, we are in effect transporting ourselves back in time to a place where we are interacting with our caregivers. Unfortunately. We often make major decisions about our lives while under the influence of emotion and we often react impulsively . For example, someone ends a relationship after an angry argument and regrets it the next day. The next person buys a car on impulse and realises soon it is out of his budget. Two examples or making decisions based on emotion.
Our main issue is that we tend to repress emotions because we find them threatening. Memories from childhood, bad experiences, relationships or interaction. Like a spring, we can push such emotional content away and avoid it but it will return when triggered. We tend to become very habitual about this and we produce frameworks and methods in our minds to make sure emotions stay repressed.
So how can logic overcome this? Part of the problem with the emotional side of us is that the inner critic, the catalyst of all things dysfunctional resides there, along with other thinking parts. The inner critic, through its “shoulds” and “musts” drives the emotional process, shooting down any sign that a different way of thinking can come. He is there to protect in the most dysfunctional way possible. It doesn’t want anyone to move forward and prefers its victim to stay in the comfort zone that it has created.
Challenging this concept is essential in the battle between logic and emotion. It takes, first an awareness of the way we are thinking and where that thinking is coming from.
The only place where rationality exists is in the conscious mind which means staying in the present moment and thinking logically. Giving some time before reacting to stimuli and creating an appropriate response. This is someone we often fail to do. In detail, it means accepting that an immediate response to an emotion is irrational and also stepping back and thinking before speaking. In the present moment, we have the ability to question ourselves concerning the way we want to deal with a situation. It might be the best thirty seconds we ever have.
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Buddhist do not have a word for emotions
Our psychology gives way to much importance to emotions
An emotion lasts a only a few seconds without energy, attention
We all have the same number of emotions, experience the same emotions
The trick is to experience the emotion entirely, feel it, then release it
Coming to present moment is the answer
Thought is not needed
Just being present, observing the body sensations connected to that emotion
If you meditate and follow your inner guide you realize emotions are ephemeral, transparent and fleeting
Count how many emotions you have today
We are much more than any fleeting emotion
Thank you, Marty. Good points.
I am glad you mentioned the inner critic in your post Dr. Jenner. In my own recovery as well as many in my CoDA recovery fellowship, self-compassion practice has been an important piece of our healing. Codependency is a pain avoidance disease and self-compassion has allowed me to turn toward my painful emotions, connect to our common humanity and give myself the kindness I need and deserve. This does help me to quiet my inner critic and gets my logic and emotional brains working together.
Thank you for your comment. I truly believe that inner thinking parts work is very important in overcoming any issue.