Inner prisons are made of learned lock-downs to emotions that were once deemed unacceptable.
As children, if we were punished or rejected (or if we witnessed others being punished or rejected) for expressing a particular emotion, we learned to shut-down those unacceptable things, and seal them tight. I find it easy to imagine an innocent child truly believing that her very survival is at stake. As children, shutting-down those emotions protected us from harsher, more overwhelming and unmanageable pain. Denial protected us back then, and thank goodness for that!!
But as adults, in order to welcome more joy into our lives, we’ve got to melt the walls. Thankfully, in my world, the walls are made of chocolate. And if you want, you can decide that yours are too! Truth: There is no true freedom without the fullest range of feelings available to us.
As adults, we can reparent ourselves. Warmth, compassion and mercy (in the face of unwanted feelings that rise up out of nowhere, also known as emotional flashbacks) free us to fully participate in our lives, embody our experiences and authentically relate with others. What can you do in the face of a traumatic memory that rises up and catches you by surprise? Here’s one effective and healthy option recommended by Pete Walker, author of Complex PTSD:
Angrily renounce the hurtful method of training you endured, and replace it with affirming, positive messages. If you really let yourself go there, grief will likely rise up. Tears and sadness that should have been felt long, long ago will be set free. And so will you.
Undammed. Unclogged. You’ll be free to take healthy risks, create more meaningful relationships and experience a sense of personal power that wasn’t possible before. You’ll open yourself to receive more magic and joy and serendipities.
As a child, my very favorite record album was “Free to Be You and Me” by Marlo Thomas and Friends. I didn’t know how timeless the wisdom would be and could never have imagined that I would still enjoy the songs as an adult – the way you might treasure a favorite children’s book. Here’s the first song from the album . . . There’s a land that I see . . .