July 14, 2022

To the Emotions We are Never Asked to Feel—I See You.


Emotions may very well be such an integral part of living a life that to imagine a life without them seems meaningless.

Without the ability to feel from the very depths of us, how would we experience love? If we could not navigate through pain and suffering, how would we ever have a frame of reference for true happiness?

There is always a dark to the shadows, but without each other, they would cease to exist. This knowledge leads me to question why we feel the need to negate the emotions we consider “uncomfortable” as human beings.

Emotions such as sadness, despair, nervousness, and anxiety have been thrown into a cauldron of what’s considered “abnormal.” The negative impact this has on the person feeling them seems almost worse than the act of feeling them. It is true that, to a degree, the level with which one is handling one of these powerful emotions matters.

Still, it seems unreasonable that we ever got to that place of judgement.

From a young age, I remember being told what I could and could not feel. It is seen today that when children begin feeling a type of emotion that falls into the unacceptable category, they are treated as such. When a small being—new to this planet—feels something so powerful that it even makes adults uncomfortable, imagine how that tiny being is feeling.

For training purposes at minimum, imagine if they were given the space to explore them freely without judgment. In my perception, we would have fewer adults feeling broken in this lifetime. Adults who feel as if something is inherently wrong with them, merely based on someone else’s definition, only to pass it down to their children and keep that cycle continuing.

No matter which emotion is expressed, that emotion reveals a level of vulnerability. Suppose the only response some may know to our expression of exposure is damaging.

How would we ever see the opposite exists?

So, when faced with an experience that offers us the opposite of all we have ever known, the unfamiliarity should be expected to be scary. But we cannot blame ourselves for acquired behaviors, only hold ourselves accountable and decide if we want to be different.

I found myself in plenty of situations where I experienced this. It is now at this point in my journey where I can see its origin and share my perception with hopes it will reach someone in their own healing journey who can potentially use it as well.

Our brains are rigged for the protection of the self—the ever-preserving mechanism to recognize threats and send alarm bells at sight. This serves well in many situations; however, for those of us who have experienced large amounts of trauma, the results can have a negative impact. To live in a constant state of fighting/survival, the burdens on the body can be heavy. Subsequently, the mind can begin to place that mechanism in other situations where it does not belong.

Environmental factors also play a prominent role in what can quickly become the most significant obstacle we face in our healing journey, denying us the experience of embracing the opportunity in unfamiliar places without needing to determine it as a risk factor.

For instance, for those of us who have grown up being told our emotions are inappropriate at a time when it would’ve been most beneficial to be given a space to explore them more openly, the immediate reaction may be to believe we are acting inappropriately and therefore not accepted in our adult lives.

Moving further, if we find ourselves at the barrel of our depths in an emotional relationship and we begin to show vulnerability to someone incapable of being receptive or at minimum understanding, this can cause even more detrimental effects.

How does one grow up programmed to believe emotions such as sadness, anger, or fear are acceptable when throughout their whole lives they’ve been taught that these emotions cause rejection?

For those of us who have decided to commit to the path of emotional well-being, the wounds that are buried deep within our subconscious minds can present themselves during the most inopportune moments. It becomes extremely uncomfortable when we are triggered into an emotional response that we have convinced ourselves will only be met with severe criticism. This begins to create certain levels of resentment because we would often carry someone else during their emotional trials, yet we are the ones left alone during our moments of despair.

Can you imagine what life would look like in a situation where these acquired behaviors did not exist? Can you imagine a life where you had the space to explore your own emotions without those restraints?

For some of us, we have never known that. Even with that being an ideal world for us, our behaviors could potentially damage it if we found it by happenstance. So, the real question would be: how do we begin to move out of those behaviors to have the ability to build this ideal environment?

If you can, take a moment and imagine a vast tree. From the outside, it cannot express emotion, but it is proven that it reacts to them. It is said that you can kill a plant by shouting at it. I sometimes wonder since they cannot express themselves if the lack of expression causes the deterioration.

Moving forward, you can stand amongst trees and be awestruck. As human beings, we can be just the same. The soil needs to be fertile and rich with nutrients for ultimate thriving. The roots that dive ever so deep into the ground need fuel to draw from to maintain their quality of life. Its trunk has layers, and each layer intricately supplies the tree with what it needs to be protected and supported. The outer layer is meant to act like armor to keep the tree from being affected by external factors but is not completely impermeable.

We, as human beings, are not so different regarding this. Our core needs to be strong to keep our bodies balanced, and our inner workings cannot be neglected. The environment we are placing our roots in needs to be one so healthy that we can do more than just survive. Although our outside armor will still allow things to pass, we can choose where we decide to grow these roots.

Unlike trees, we can express our emotions, so it is of great importance we find where we can do that. The beauty of this is the choice to do so.

Our acquired behaviors are much like branches as well.

With each leaf that grows, there is a tiny branch that gives life to it. If we follow the path of who we came to be during our emotional experiences, we will find many leaves and stems. They are all required at some point to represent who we are and what we stand to be.

Like seasons, our experiences will come and go, and our leaves will dry and fall off. It may be beneficial to apply this to our behaviors and emotions because they are not so different. Each stage is a temporary construct and vital to who and what we are for the given moment in time. But just because the tree looked bountiful in spring does not mean that same tree will look pleasing in the dead of winter. It will be bare, naked, and vulnerable. Who is to say that is unacceptable because that is the nature it was given, just as we were given emotions to feel as human beings?

It is my greatest hope in life to watch everyone who struggles with these emotions to find some level of respect for them. It’s an amazing thing to witness when you find the space to hold them without resistance and the need to categorize them. This all begins with ourselves and the responsibility we owe to our hearts for beating.

How nice it would be to repay it with the space to feel something it never asked to feel in the first place!


Please consider Boosting our authors’ articles in their first week to help them win Elephant’s Ecosystem so they can get paid and write more.

Read 1 Comment and Reply

Read 1 comment and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Brooke Dione Phillips  |  Contribution: 3,030

author: Brooke Dione Phillips

Image: Ozan Çulha/Pexels

Editor: Michelle Al Bitar