August 6, 2012

Are You an Emotional Zombie?

Photo by Philipp von Ostau

Ain’t got no pop in your step & no dandelion wishes in the breeze?

You aren’t alone.

Understanding why, emotionally, is quite a task, as you may know. It’s easy getting “it” intellectually, but emotions are like a long lost third cousin who flunked kindergarten. Emotions always seem to be the last to learn.

People, who had “liveliness” in them years ago may lose that risk taking, “life is but a dream” attitude, as they get older.

For some it is temporary. For others they see no way out.

Anxiety, depression, lack of confidence, low self esteem or any other motivation killer may have taken away freedom and “can do” in the life of this individual.

A few reasons:

First, I’ve written about our sponge-like childhood where we soak it all up, believing all sorts of crazy stuff about ourselves and how we adhere these labels to our forehead; invisible, stupid, perfect and smart, shy, a failure, bad.

Those labels are carried forward into adult lives, especially work and relationships. Nifty stuff, huh?

Second reason some don’t recover is the experiences that have brought failure are constructed atop those childhood myths.

If someone lacks confidence and esteem these failures tend to suck the life goals right out of em’.

When someone has experienced a relationship or even a job or two or three, which has been abusive, defeating, soul-sucking and personal control was given up, it can be a major obstacle to a better future.

When I came out of my marriage years ago, filled with anxiety and depression, my question was, “Where’s my soul?” and please give me inner peace.

A third reason for the loss of joie de vivre is things happen and we don’t recognize how to stop victimizing ourselves as though people, relationships and life hold us hostage.

It’s as though we gave away the key to our heart and soul.

Observing my experiences and the experiences of others brings me emotional epiphanies. When I see the common string connecting the dots—my emotions finally, and I mean finally, go “Ah ha!”

It lightens my load, especially if I’m involved in the situation. It allows me to not take something personally.

This isn’t to categorize everyone who’s gone through an earthly version of hell. It’s to show how some never recover or take a very long time to get back what they gave away.

For some people, fear takes away hope and stops movement to actually shift toward a better relationship, job or life. Fear becomes a sense of duty.

Photo by NoahElhardt

They feel life provides no safe haven, so be self-protective and relegate your dreams to the past.

They don’t know how to let go of what is killing their spirit. Whether it’s a sense of duty or the need to suffer and be punished, some stay past the bitter end and become the walking dead.

They know the truth deep down inside, and hear friends and family repeating over and over to move on.

Fear blooms like a Venus flytrap swallowing up courage, giving a million excuses while shouting, “You will fail again!” They may crave their dreams, deepest longings and desires, but when a flicker of the old spirit comes alive, fear is an unrelenting bulldozer running over and over the desire for better.

It asphyxiates the present by hitting “repeat.” Dreams remain way out in “someday,” proving their lack of worth. The future arrives no different than the past.

And if you’re a parent, you have little sponges in your world, so your “old” labels affect them. They see the example of a bad marriage, job or life situation. Pain and suffering are the future, if they follow what they learned.

Some kids do the opposite of what was shown in childhood. It’s a reaction and not a true desire. Think about how you wanted to be the same or different than your parents, did it work to fulfill your deepest desires?

So, how to stop this cycle that’s so deeply entrenched that people keep to the same routine everyday, rarely varying or stepping out of the uncomfortable comfort zone? And for others who feel it’s only situational, what will put fear in its proper place?

Photo by John M

A few things help.

First, focus directly on the goal or dream. Know there are always obstacles and some may resemble the past, but look beyond them at the goal. Keep your eye on the prize: great job, business, relationship, friends.

If you stay connected to it, you’ll stay the course. Yes, it takes more or different energy; sometimes it feels like free falling or moving a rhinoceros, but each changed step taken breaks the cycle. Take action.

Second, realize fear is just fear. It’s not real, it’s a “what if” and focusing on it, attracts more obstacles making the goal that much more challenging.  See the fear, befriend it and get clear that just because it happened before, doesn’t mean you’ll be slaughtered or demolished by a situation. You are still alive, right?

Being unaware re-creates the past with feeling doomed to the same destiny. Shine awareness and do the heavy lifting, it only gets lighter. Change perception.

Third, ask for support, communication is key, chuck the ego and get honest. Talk about dreams and fears. When the ice cold hand of fear grabs hold of the heart recognize it and be brave, instead look it in the eye and say yes to happy, love and success and open up to telling the story until its changed. Communication.

Fourth, don’t personalize life or people. We all have our own s**t. Things don’t happen to you. Don’t make it another chapter in your old story. Take responsibility without personalization.

I’ve seen it work. I’ve experienced the results in my own life. One small step is a giant leap to regaining that pop in your step, your wishes on dandelions and dreams coming true!


Editor: Kate Bartolotta

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