Wednesday, February 29, 2012
A lot of times when I'm talking to clients in therapy sessions, we talk about the idea of secondary emotions--emotions which result from other emotions. For example, fear of fear, or guilt about sadness, etc. So commonly in our world, whether it is through media, music, or even well meaning family members, when things are wrong, the message is, "You're ok!" or "Be tough. You can do it."
All good messages, right?
But what if you really are hurt, and go to someone for help, and they rush you through the hurt to feeling better? What if as a child you go to an adult to connect in pain, and hear, "You're ok!"
The message (even though it isn't intentional) is clear: I'm more accepted by this very important adult attachment figure if I'm ok.
Today I was working with an college aged woman about an incident of rejection that happened at school as a child, causing her pain. Even as an adult telling the story, the message was clear: Those kids were just mean, and I moved on and made new friends.
As we talked more about the permission to feel the hurt instead of the secondary emotion (embarrassment about hurt), I could hear the tone of her voice changing, but she still continued to talk about how she just moved on. Then almost out of nowhere the idea of being ok with the hurt hit her and she stopped mid-sentence and said, "I needed to hurt."
How many times do we need to just hurt, but "move on" instead. How much do we really feel afraid, embarrassed, angry, ashamed (or any other number of feelings) about our emotions?
Easy to talk about in the counselor's chair...
Harder to live.
I wish I could say as a mom I always listen and validate, but I think I fall into the "You're ok!" trap too often when maybe I need to think more about, "You're ok even when you're hurting..."
At ultimately, being ok to the person who loves you is a good place to be.