As we move from the frivolity of summer to the reflective, waning days of autumn, I want to introduce you to a concept of mine I call the “loss pot.” Think of the loss pot as a user-friendly term for the unconscious. It is a grand storage tank, a warehouse or an attic that houses all the unwanted feelings and emotionally-laden experiences that we never chose to face and process. Feelings that are not acknowledged, felt and expressed become repressed and stuffed inside. The place of storage is our loss pot. It is the holder of our unresolved feeling energy of yesteryear. And it reads like a dairy – one that has scribed the daily trauma we all faced and yet, at the time, did not have the strength, skill, know-how or courage to bear in the light of day.
Emotional freedom requires that we understand and utilize the three working principles of the loss pot:
1. Time does not heal. You may have been told, “just give it time” or even better, “time heals all wounds.” I’m not sure who made these cliches up, but they are baloney. Time is fantasy encapsulated. We sit back and hope that by checking days off the calendar, we will feel better. But the passage of time’s only requirement is that we be passive players in the process. And that, my friends, just does not cut it. Feelings are activated energy in our body that need to be expressed or moved out. Swallowed feelings stay in the body and accumulate. The only “benefit” that time provides is that we can move all unprocessed feeling energy from the conscious to the unconscious mind. In other words, time allows one to develop sophisticated means of denying and coping with pain, but it does not take the pain away. The repressed feelings then take up residence in the crevices of our body – in the loss pot – as we go about pretending that life as we knew it has returned to normal. Only until we realize ….
2. There is no time in the heart. As repressed feelings pile up in the loss pot, we begin to carry them around wherever we go as weighted time bombs. Our bodies, hearts and psyches remember emotional pain that our minds have forgotten. In other words, the unconscious does not keep a calendar to distinguish past from present; unresolved grief from losses of years past is alive and active inside of us in real-time. What is past chronologically is present-tense emotionally. Repressed feelings are sitting there, waiting to be felt again and they can be re-triggered from deep inside us at any time. This re-surfacing can occur on moment’s notice and the feelings we thought were past are now felt with full energy, presence and intensity as if we are back in time at the earlier ages of 5, 15, 25 or 30. A song, a dream, an emotional slight, a picture, a familiar scene or a story can cast us back many years and boom … the feeling is felt again as if we are right back in a prior scene of our life, present-tense.
This principle also applies to accumulated feelings. The feelings in the loss pot just pile up with stacks of leftover and remnant emotions from our life histories. Thus, whenever we have a current feeling, the leftover feelings play a matching game as if to say “yeah, me too!” Thus, it becomes impossible to distinguish between current and past feelings since they now are all in the present – even if the most weighted source may be primarily from the past. Each new hurt taps the unresolved pain of old hurts, often causing us to feel overwhelmed and confused. This idea helps us to make sense why some folks over-react emotionally in a situation. They are flooded with feelings from a past scenario that have been lying dormant in the loss pot, waiting an opportunity to re-surface and be expressed.
3. What we don’t work out, we will act out. Because feelings are meant to be expressed, repressed feelings become very demanding. They will be not be ignored. Somehow, someway, whatever gets stored inside of us will have an eventual say in dictating our current behavior. There is just no way around it. We inevitably will become self-destructive, other-destructive or relationship-destructive. Some examples might be – development of a rigid, inflexible character; depression; aggressive behaviors; addictions; perfectionism; people-pleasing; emotional limitations in our ability to be intimate with another; hyper-independence; physical illness; debilitating anxiety; inappropriate humor; codependency; masochism – to name a few. Some of us become paralyzed in a life that no longer has a forward momentum. We just exist as if we die before we die.
None of these behaviors paint a pretty picture. And yet, too often we fail to connect such symptoms and behaviors to their true source – unresolved loss and repressed feeling. Thus, we stay emotionally, relationally and developmentally stuck, repeating the same ineffective patterns in our life choices and relationships.
The good news is that we can learn the essential nature and the mechanics of healthy emotional process. Is it time for a tune-up? Are you in need of getting your emotional machinery aligned? Get started, my friend. Time is a wasting.