SHARED EMOTIONS Sharing, accepting , and responding to emotions BY: Troy Murphy |January 2012
Life is complex, many factors influence—or even dictate—the end experience. When pain overwhelms, where do we find the cause? We look for the obvious thorn to pluck and relieve the discomfort. Emotional pains are much more complex than stepping on a thorn. We can point the finger of blame in a number of directions, and be partially correct. Outside forces impact emotions. We don’t emotionally unaffected by others; the deeper the connection the more significant the influence. We emotionally responding to experience, as all living organisms do. Relationships form a foundation of stability; the sway of interaction is carefully calculated by our systems and we respond accordingly. Regions of our brains are dedicated to reading and responding to each other’s emotions. Relationships strengthen by a shared bundle of emotions including sadness, anger, joy, desire, and even disappointment.
Willingness to share emotions—both positive and negative—in a relationship creates vulnerability. Experience produces emotions but in a relationship emotions are provoked not just from our experience, which we have measured controlled over, but also from our partner’s experience, where we have much less control. If past relationships—parents, lovers and friends—have created chaos and confusion then vulnerability is threatening. Betrayed trust in the past, weakens willingness to trust in the present. Vulnerability expressed itself with hurt, why should we believe vulnerability in the present will be any different? We build a protective wall from emotions. This wall is the natural protective consequence. Deep wounds from the past motivate avoidance of new vulnerabilities. This is a fool’s game. Intimacy requires vulnerability.
A declaration of independence doesn’t disentangle emotions from relationships. We still experience emotions; we are biologically programmed to connect. Our minds—masters of deception—may block conscious recognition of emotions, cleverly justify reactions in a logical manner, explain to ourselves and others how illogical their emotions are, but all the while our emotions are the puppet masters directing this charade of rationality. The lack of emotional recognition doesn’t free us from the influence of emotion. Our unrecognized emotions impose their mark on behaviors—angry retaliations, frustrations, and cleaver passive-aggressive slights.
Recognizing emotions important role in connections, allowing them to safely exist along with the necessary vulnerabilities, creates bonds of trust, establishes strengthening foundations that ultimately are needed to heal from the gashing wounds of past emotional neglect and abuse.