Chameleons and using ways to numb out our feelings. (Part one)
Becoming a chameleon and numbing out are two ways of coping with feelings we don’t want to confront but will keep us from ever finding resolution or peace in our lives.
I was speaking to someone a couple of days ago who reminded me of myself and I started to look at ways I have behaved in the past. This lady was talking about feeling like a “chameleon” in that, she had the ability to fit in to any situation by acting according to how she thought she would be accepted by the other people in the room. We were saying how exhausting this is and feeling like an actor in a play but never being able to be authentic. This feeling deep down that we were not enough and that we had to be someone else to fit in with everyone else and an uneasy feeling of not being safe. I am pleased to say that it is not like that today, thank goodness but I can remember how it felt.
I believe we are born perfect with two fears, the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises but then as we grow up our life experiences begin to shape us. Some of us would be brought up by care givers that understood our needs and provided us with a good start in life but some of us were not so fortunate and our care givers didn’t have the skills to fulfil our basic needs. This could be because they had been brought up in a dysfunctional family environment and pass it on to us because they knew no better. Some might have mental health issues or an addiction but what happens is, if we find ourselves in these situations as children we adapt to the environment we are in, we create coping mechanisms to survive. The problem is they might have served a purpose then as children but they don’t now and are a real hindrance to our relationships, with ourselves and other people.
I believe that a lot of our mental health problems are a result of these unresolved experiences from our past that leave us feeling disconnected and different. I don’t believe the medical profession help by putting labels on patients and over prescribing medication. If we can learn to be this way then we can also unlearn and heal, that is my understanding, belief and experience through my own journey.
There are a myriad of adverse experiences that we can experience growing up that can lead to being an unresolved trauma that consequently lead to false beliefs we may form about the world, ourselves or other people. For example we may have been humiliated in a classroom by a teacher in front of the whole class and if we don’t have the resilience to overcome it, we can start to believe we are stupid or not as smart as the other kids and begin to not trust authority figures, or withdraw and not put a hand up to answer a question for fear of it being wrong and being humiliated again.
The problem is that whenever we as a child are confronted by an adverse experience and this experience is repeated or we don’t have the support of friends or family members that can help us to build resilience and overcome these feelings, then there is a flip side to this and that is that we internalise those feelings and believe that the perpetrator is right and the beginning of a belief is born that can shape the rest of our lives. The first thing we need to develop is awareness, we become aware at some point in our lives that these limiting beliefs are not true and they are created by other people, misinformed people, or people with their own emotional problems that are transferring them to us but the good news is, once we have that awareness we are then in a position to do something about them.
I gave a very small example earlier but even that example could have far reaching consequence for some children, lack of confidence, low self-esteem, feeling less than. These are the traits that will shape what career they choose, what type of partner they have, what kind of life they live.
I believe that the majority of the stress related illnesses today that show up as anxiety and depression are result of unresolved experiences from our past that have led us down a path of discontentment, because deep down inside we know that we are worth so much more, we are so much more and we have no idea what our true potential is. You might not feel or believe this yet but we live in a world of infinite possibilities.
Tomorrow I will show you what you can do to get things started by being aware of things you might be doing to avoid facing your uncomfortable feelings that is stopping you moving forward in life.
Chameleons and using ways to numb out our feelings. PART TWO.
· What if everything we think is true about life, who we are and the world we live in is distorted or plain wrong?
· What if our lives are being run by beliefs and sub conscious programmes created by other people?
· What if we could change that?
Well we can go a long way to achieve this by being aware of what is happening and noticing when we are doing something to avoid a feeling or when we are doing something to create a feeling.
For instance we only see what we put our focus and attention on. A way to experience this is to try this simple test..
1. Get yourself a piece of paper.
2. Next scan the room you are in and list everything blue. After you have done this move on to number three.
3. Now close your eyes and think of all the things brown or some other colour.
If we put our focus and attention on negative things, this will be what we are drawn towards and this is all we will see. Not only that but all thoughts and feelings give out a vibration and according to the frequency of those thoughts and feelings, will attract more of the same! (The new science of Quantum Physics) but the opposite is true too, if we focus on the positive we will see positive things around us, change our frequency and attract more of the same.
Life is about balance, there is good and bad all around us but if we put our focus and attention on how bad things are we filter out all the colour in life and we live in a grey area that will eventually impact not only on our mental health but physical symptoms will start to show up too.
What about numbing out uncomfortable emotions? Some of these activities might seem harmless and pleasurable and don’t get me wrong most of the time the might be just that but it is the reason for doing them that is the problem.
There are lots of different ways that we can use to numb out our feelings and some of us will make lots of excuses for why we continue with them but the bottom line is we are not only filtering out painful feelings but we are filtering out happiness and joy for a quick fix that doesn’t last.
We might turn to television for hours on end or duvet diving to escape, some may use shopping and end up with a heap of things they don’t need, some will use work and keeping busy to escape, some will use food, mine was sweet things!, and then there is alcohol and drugs (street drugs and prescription drugs)
I find it fairly easy to write about these things because I have experienced most of them, except shopping. I tend to avoid shopping to escape uncomfortable feelings J
I never knew why I was behaving the way I was, I didn’t understand what I needed to do. I never questioned anything it was like being on automatic pilot. I either feel good or I feel crap! If I felt crap (which was most of the time) I would do whatever I needed to change the way I felt and as a result lost so much.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Most of these behaviours can be addressed by when you sense that you are engaging in a numbing behaviour to escape a feeling ask the question, ‘why’ examine the feelings and find ways to resolve them. I use EFT and there are lots of examples on YouTube that can teach you how to do that. Those with addictions or more serious emotional problems will need professional help but remember this whenever we use something to change the way we feel, we are escaping pain. The good news is there is more help out there than there has ever been and also remember this, if you relate to any of this and you are searching for a solution, don’t stop searching because that solution is searching for you.
I’ll finish on this. When I eventually got into recovery and then cleared my unresolved traumas, I became acutely aware of all those years that I had spent trying not to feel and I was overwhelmed with these feelings of sadness and loss because by then I was aware of how precious feelings are. I can’t explain in words what I mean but when I held my Grandchildren for the first time, that miracle of life, I knew the power of a feeling not just that connection with them but to everything. Twenty two years ago I pledged to myself I would never put anything inside myself to change the way I feel and I have stuck to that. My feelings and emotions are a precious gift, good, bad or indifferent.