Have you ever felt surprised by your mood unexpectedly shifting and an emotion suddenly boiling up?
Maybe you felt a bit annoyed about something that happened during the day, and when your partner comes home, you share it with him or her, and suddenly you feel really angry?
Or you felt a bit concerned about your mother’s health, and you talk to your father, who is apparently not worried but quite calm. Yet, you suddenly feel really scared and worried about her?
What has happened in those two situations? You felt a bit annoyed and worried, and suddenly the emotions boiled over into anger and fear. Why? Who pushed the button for that eruption?
John Gray: What You Feel You Can Heal
Your partner and your father pushed the button without knowing they did. Both of them were disconnected from their own emotions and suppressed their anger and their fear. We disown certain energies because we have learned it is “bad” to feel or be a certain way. However, somebody else will express it for them whenever one person tries to bury an emotion. The more closely connected these two people are, the more they can feel and experience each other’s emotions.
In our example, you were feeling and expressing anger and fear for both of you, yourself and the partner in your interaction. This happens unconsciously and automatically. Suppressed energy has to go somewhere. A vacuum of energy draws that energy in from somewhere else. John Gray illustrates with great humour how our emotional “tank” work when we are in a relationship:
John Gray: What You Feel You Can Heal
Wilma starts to feel anger but pushes it down because she has learned that nice girls don’t get angry. The more she pushes it down, the more Fred feels it, and the anger rises in his side of the tank. All of a sudden, Fred starts to feel irritable and angry. Wilma might try to also repress his feeling of anger by attempting to calm him down. This continues until Fred explodes. If this happens regularly, Fred might even be labelled as an angry person. Both remain clueless why the anger explodes.
When we push down a feeling, it comes up in our partner. John Grey calls this the see-saw effect. One example John Grey gives for the see-saw effect is the emotion of “need.” Fred falls in love with Wilma. He starts to feel his need for her, but that feeling frightens him because he might lose her. So he pushes that feeling down, telling himself he does not want to get too committed. The feeling of need goes over to Wilma’s side of the “tank,” adding to her own feelings of need. Wilma becomes insecure and desperate and starts to feel what is commonly called “needy.” Some people go from one partner to another, wondering why their partners all become so “needy” around them. Who is the common denominator? The person who is out of touch with his feelings of need and fear.
A friend of mine who is generally seen as a peaceful and calm person always seems to end up in relationships with angry women. When he first meets them, they are quite pleasant. Yet, the longer their relationship lasts, the more annoyed and angry the women seem to all become. They yell at him more and more frequently and loudly, while he shuts down more and more, unable to feel his own emotions. Eventually, he leaves them because he can’t stand being yelled at anymore. Until he embraces his own anger and learns to acknowledge and express it appropriately, he will always attract somebody who expresses this deeply buried emotion for him.
Are you tired of having all these invisible buttons on your chest that others can just push?
Would you like to stop triggering others and stop being triggered yourself?
Would you like to learn more about how we disown certain energies because we have learned it is “bad” to feel or be a certain way and how we can live more conscious relationships as whole human beings who love themselves and others?
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