Are you being haunted by the same feelings?
As humans, we can get tangled up in certain feelings. Feelings planted in our awareness at a young age and unattended have a nasty habit of re-emerging so we can work them out when we’re older and have more life experience. But the feelings get stronger and increasingly dense the longer we avoid facing them. The longer we take to face those feelings, the more challenging the task becomes. Pretty soon, we’re STUCK.
It’s completely understandable why we create boundaries around these old, STUCK feelings. We push them away by telling ourselves “I shouldn’t feel that way because__________.” Or we distract ourselves with food, doom scrolling, binge watching, over exercise, road rage, etc. It seems easier to adjust our focus on something else rather than confront the feeling that lingers from long ago.
Recently, I was visited by anger and frustration. I tried pushing these feelings away by my usual means- cleaning and organizing. In the process of cleaning, I kept encountering more and more piles of “stuff” that that didn’t belong. I started to feel angry about the stuff. And then I felt angry at my family, to whom much of this stuff belonged. “Why do I have to be the one to take care of all this STUFF?!”
Even though I was doing my best to avoid my feelings, they met up with me anyway. And there I was, applying intense feelings from past stories onto present conditions. How were these feeling from my past?
When I was in middle school, I was a good student. I achieved good grades, I stayed on top of every facet of my life, I didn’t push boundaries at school or at home, and I made sure that I was a model of good behavior in all classes, even the ones I didn’t like. One day, we were told we had to do a book report, but we wouldn’t have to write this report alone. We would have a partner. “Oh, good,” I thought. “A little work would be taken off my shoulders for once.” Unfortunately, we wouldn’t be allowed to choose our own partner. The teacher decided I would work with a kid in class I didn’t really know. He kept to himself, so I had no idea whether he was invested in his education or not. I found out in short order that participating in school was not an interest of his, and I eventually resigned myself to doing ALL the work to get a good grade.
Internally, I was furious. Why did he get the benefit of my ‘A’ when he didn’t contribute anything?!
This began my story of “I have to work harder than everyone else.”
I found myself in this story everywhere. As a high school student taking on the project of writing a band newsletter and having to come up with the articles myself. As a college student asked to “help” a professor with a class but ending up doing most of the work. As a professional joining collaborative projects only to find that everyone loved talking about what the project “could” be rather than doing the work to bring it to life. These are just a few examples of how the “I have to work harder than everyone else” story pervaded.
Did I ever confront the people who were not accepting their share? Did I ever let my feelings be known to anyone?
And every time I found myself in anything that resembled that story, my blood would boil, but I would distract myself from doing anything differently.
Returning to my cleaning/organizing extravaganza, I noticed myself pushing the resultant emotions away from a recent flare-up of “I have to work harder than everyone else.” I also recognized how those emotions were bursting at the seams, causing me to lash out at anyone and everyone. Before they had a chance to offer help, I was barking orders, assuming there would be resistance.
Often, when we ASSUME anything, we are STUCK in an emotion with roots in the past!
A powerfully applicable quote recently came to my attention: “If it’s hysterical, it’s historical.”
Are you trapped in time? Is there something from your history causing you to react in ways that don’t belong in the present? What would it be like to get UNSTUCK from your history and transmute those old emotions for personal growth and gain?
In this episode of Growing in Uncertainty, I talk about how STUCK feelings keep us STUCK in life and how we can start to clean out those old cobwebs to make room for new ways of being that will propel us forward!