When we are physically hurt or handicapped, our wounds and limitations are usually seen, acknowledged and addressed by ourselves and others. But in comparison, our emotional wounds and interpersonal handicaps are more often than not hidden, dismissed, or put off in terms of needing to be addressed, supported and healed.
Rejection, betrayal or a break in a relationship bond can elicit a pain response in the brain comparable to physical trauma, sometimes with the accompanying symptoms of PTSD. Yet we can judge ourselves or others for not ‘getting over’ such an injury fast enough, and either throw ourselves into activity as a distraction from our emotions or get caught in a trauma cycle of ruminating over the event.
If we move through these experiences by allowing ourselves to explore our feelings and the triggers behind the pain, we may come face to face with deeper, underlying emotional wounds from early childhood and opportunities to clear them. Attending to these ruptures of attachment can take a great deal of courage and self-compassion but ultimately can lead to a greater sense of self-recovery and wholeness.
But when we are disconnected from ourselves and unable or unwilling to face our attachment traumas, we may turn against our feeling nature and armor our hearts in an attempt to defend against the pain (past, present, and perceived future). And when the truth is too painful for us to face, we can become complicit in our own denial.
If we’ve been emotionally traumatized, especially early in life, we may come to believe that love and belonging is not real, possible, or available to us (i.e. that we are not wanted, at least, not as we are) and opt for seeking power and control instead as a poor substitute. When too many traumatized people are taught to shut down their capacity to feel in this way, the world burns.
18. EMPATHY & ENMESHMENT
Essay by Katarzyna Vedah. June 1, 2020
Then, no matter how much love and support may surround us, if our hearts are closed off, nothing can come in to nourish us, or come out in authentic self-expression ~ essentially, we cannot share ourselves with others or be truly known for who we are because we reject being open and vulnerable.
Being closed off in this way can lead to a kind of emotional starvation, a deep inner emptiness or sense of lack that can compel us to steal or take energy/resources from others in what may feel like a struggle to survive in a hostile world. Feeling unsupported and emotionally cut off from ourselves and others, we may then seek purpose and stability in our lives through status, material advantage and domination over others.
Stuck in survival mode, driven by insecurity and the fear of rejection or attack, we may use (however unconscious) tactics and coping mechanisms to control and manipulate our relationships in order to protect ourselves from our pain, or project our inner helplessness and rage onto others as a way to retaliate against the original source of our wounding.
Perhaps the perpetrators of our pain exploited (knowingly or not) our innocence and vulnerability when we were children, having shut down their own empathy and feeling natures, denying, projecting, and seeking retaliation for their own pain and trauma.
But we don’t have to perpetuate this pain-rage-revenge cycle nor accept the dynamic of power and control as the only means to connect with others while keeping ourselves intact. Our traumatic experiences may shape us but they do not define us. Addressing the injury is the first step. Discerning the game of power for what it is is the second ~ as a poor way of connecting with others by means of conflict and coercion.
But there is another way ~
Reconnecting with our hearts means tapping into a power that cannot be controlled or coerced. The energy we unleash by letting go of our shame, blame, or need to suffer, can be turned around to explore and develop our core self-value.
Tapping into the compass and map of our feeling nature then gives us the tools of discernment that shields us against exploitation and self-betrayal.
We then become capable of reclaiming and protecting our self-hood and wisely express and share ourselves with those who value our personal power as well as their own.
No longer in a space of internal lack, we do not feel dependent on others, or compelled to steal, manipulate or coerce them for what we need and want ~ we are now free to seek and create it for ourselves and in mutual relationship.
"An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
VIDEO (YouTube): School of Life
Solution for Conflicts (LamatX)
Why Couples Fight (Skavlan)
VIDEO (YouTube): TED
DOCUMENTARY (YouTube): Trailer
Won’t You Be My Neighbour (M. Neville)
Project Nim (James Marsh)
CREATIVE INSPIRATIONS TO ENGAGE THE CAPACITY TO FEEL
FILM / VIDEO (IMDb): Trailer
Beginners (Mike Mills)
Her (Spike Jonze)
Angel-A (Luc Besson)
In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai)
FILM REVIEW / VIDEO: Spoilers!
Frames Within Frames (NerdWriter1)
VIDEO (YouTube): Pop Culture Detective
MUSIC / VIDEO (YouTube):
SHORT FILM / VIDEO (YouTube):
Kindness Boomerang (Life Vest Inside)
OTHERHALF by Ben West (Framestore)
The Neighbors’ Window (Marshall Curry)
HEALTHY MENTAL OUTLOOK & PSYCHOLOGICAL SUPPORT
Social Groups (Crash Course)
Emotions Are Contagious (NRP)
Power of Expectations (NRP)
Evolution of Parenting (NRP)
Emotional Health (Gottman Institute)
Nurturance of Being Known (Jacob Ham)
Your Relationships (Wholistic Psychologist)
Attachment Styles (MedCircle)
Insecure Relationship Cycle (Alan Robarge)
BOOK: Attached. By A. Levine & R. Heller
Silent Treatment (Tracey Marks)
Emotional Sponge (Tracey Marks)
Enmeshment (Wholistic Psychologist)
Boundaries (Wholistic Psychologist)
Codependents & Narcissists (Terri Cole)
Your Codependent Relationship (Terri Cole)
The Placation Pattern (Teal Swan)
Freedom in Relationships (Teal Swan)
ARTICLE / WEB: By Mark Manson
BOOK / PDF EXCERPT: By Dan Griffin
PRACTICAL REINFORCEMENT FOR SELF-CARE & DAY-TO-DAY LIVING
LOVE MAPS &
FORKS IN THE ROAD
VIDEO (YouTube): School of Life
VIDEO (YouTube): One Percent Better
Stop the Cycle (Dr. Tracey Marks)
Love or Trauma? (Wholistic Psychologist)
WEB / ARTICLE: Mark Manson
Divorce: Adam Ruins Everything (TruTV)
Family-Court is Broken (Reason TV)
DOCUMENTARY (YouTube): Trailer
Divorce Corp (Divorce Corp)
How to Handle Rejection (Teal Swan)
Breakup & Remain Friends (Teal Swan)
How to Consciously Uncouple (Mindvalley)
Conscious Uncoupling (Wanderlust)
BOOK / WEBSITE:
By Katherine Woodward Thomas
EXPANDING PERSPECTIVES, AWARENESS & CONSCIOUSNESS
WEB / ARTICLE: Psychology Today
VIDEO (YouTube): Emotion Dynamics
VIDEO (YouTube): Vital Mind Psychology
Inner Child (Wholistic Psychologist)
Healing the Shadow (Aaron Abke)
Shadow Self & Inner Child (Gigi Young)
Narcissism (Gigi Young)
Trauma Bonding (Melanie Tonia Evans)
Psychic Connection (Melanie Tonia Evans)
Psychic Vampires (Teal Swan)
Shadow Contracts (Amanda Flaker)
Value Realization (Teal Swan)
Attraction (Teal Swan)