Have you ever wondered why so many people are suffering from anxiety, burnout, depression and other mental health issues? We try so hard to stay on top of things, yet still we feel like we can never get everything done. Other people put their own expectations on us and we are constantly feeling like we’re not performing up to scratch. We compare ourselves to others and often feel judged, anxious and overwhelmed.
So what is it that’s making people feel isolated, overwhelmed and alone? In the rest of this article I’m going to explain what we’re doing to make this happen and how we can rectify it.
The problem lies in not understanding how the emotional response cycle works. We feel emotionally triggered, it feels uncomfortable so we block it, and then our mind immediately conjures up the reasons for the emotion. We’re constantly going around in circles, analyzing the emotion and the reason we have it. This takes a heck of a lot of energy and is what makes us feel depleted and burned out.
An emotional response is an instant, internal physical reaction to an unwanted thought or situation. You may call this anger, frustration, disappointment, fear, or anxiety. Ignoring or blocking the internal physical component of an emotion prevents the “program” from completing. This leaves us in a perpetual state of not quite feeling aligned or connected with ourselves and others. It’s what keeps us feeling separate and quickly leads to feeling overwhelmed.
Mental health issues result from an ongoing issue of blocking the emotional responses which are constantly triggered by our life experiences. We are taught from a young age to suppress our emotions. This is usually to pacify the adults around us. So as we become older, we default to our new habit of blocking emotions in the hope that we become more socially acceptable.
This never happens because the very act of suppression will always erect an invisible wall of resistance between ourselves and others. People respond to how they feel when they are around us, more than to our words. So this inefficient procedure which we have practiced since childhood leads to misunderstandings, anxiety and feelings of isolation. Then our judgmental thoughts of our inability to cope make us feel even more depressed, separate, and overwhelmed.
Other people constantly reinforce the fact that we’re not acceptable when we’re behaving irrationally. The problem is that irrational behavior is the end result of blocking an emotional response. This happens because we lose the ability to think clearly while an emotion goes unresolved. In our personal and working relationships with others, this often leads to confusion, arguments and other misunderstandings. This all compounds our feelings of isolation.
The programs which regulate our heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing are interrupted when an emotional response is triggered. This is why it feels so uncomfortable. When the emotional response completes, these essential life programs go back into sync. Physiologically, this is what makes us feel better. If we don’t allow the emotional response to resolve, we don’t allow ourselves to experience the peace and connection associated with the completion of every emotion.
Anxiety, depression, burnout and feelings of overwhelm often lead to other unwanted behaviors. These can include bullying, as well as physical and sexual abuse. When a person is feeling good within themselves, they don’t feel the need to control others.
I look forward to the day when our teaching systems incorporate how to immediately resolve an emotional response when it’s triggered. At that time, as individuals and as a society, we will be able to experience and understand the true meaning of peace.
A version of this post was previously published on DrJoeToday and is republished here with permission from the author.
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