Imagine that the shape of your being is like an icosahedron. Each human quality corresponds to one of its sides. Now imagine that each time a person observes one of your qualities, that side comes conscious of itself. These will be the qualities that we will develop during our early childhood. Those that are not nurtured, remain latent.
Human beings, at birth, we are all like icosahedrons. While we all come with a multitude of unique essential qualities, we often develop just a few. The culture where we were born, the economic or social possibilities, etc. promoted only certain parts of our essence.
Emotional numbness is caused by the repression of certain innate characteristics that have not been freely expressed and have been repressed to be accepted by our social environment.
When we are children, we are like sponges. We absorb what we are taught as absolute truths. If something that is innate in oneself is not valued by our environment, we will consider it of little value. However, we never completely lose awareness of these qualities. Until we have honoured them in ourselves, we will tend to admire (or hate) the individuals who express them freely.
We only need to observe those who impress us strongly whether in a positive or negative way to understand what are the parts of ourselves that we have not been able to be expressed and developed, remaining numb.
The emotions and qualities that have become numb are still part of our being, but as they have not been able to develop like the rest, they remain in a childlike state. When we find ourselves in situations that awaken these qualities and we feel blocked, that is when we begin to make conscious the numbness. Many times we can feel ashamed for not knowing how to act in certain circumstances. For example, if we are in a situation where we have to help someone who has just fallen on the street and we cannot move, and we see how another person passing by reacts instantly and runs to the fallen person without hesitation. In this situation, our lack of response can be created by many things. If when we were children our parents forced us to stay still, we end up trained to stop our spontaneous reactions automatically and this repression will affect us later in life in situations like the above.
Human education has not yet included emotional knowledge as a fundamental part of the development of the Self . For now, we only have our instinctive wisdom to heal ourselves. And the way we do it is through relationships. We seek unknowingly to live situations where we relive that which has an incomplete consciousness, so, through the years and experience gained, we can see with adults’ eyes what is kept in a childlike state and give it the awareness that adults of the past have not been able to provide.
And how do we do this? Generally in three ways:
- We interact with individuals that will make us unconsciously remember the people of our family environment. Our unconscious does this to give awareness to the experiences of our early childhood that have not been revisited in a more adult age. We will look for individuals that make us feel that FINALLY! we will receive what our parents have not been able to give us. For our inner child, that is like reaching the paradise that he has longed for so much. We feel these individuals as “soul mates”; they give us the feeling of “having known them in other lives”. And it’s true. What we do not know is that the previous life that we are feeling is our own childhood. Sooner or later, the same patterns we experienced in childhood will be repeated and conflicts will begin. These relationships invite us to relive what we have not been able to process as children. Now we have the opportunity to see them with our adult eyes and explain to our inner child all that our parents have not known how -especially if we are older than our parents were at the time. For this, we must forget the present situation as a trigger and identify it as something that we have been dragging forever. We learn to stop asking what we need from those who can not deliver it. And we even understand why they can not give it to us. This is the most precious healing process that life gives us, since not only do we realize our true needs, but it also helps us understand our parents and develop compassion towards them.
- We seek individuals who make us live a more intense repression than we have lived in our environment. Our unconscious does this to see more clearly those things that we have accepted as unavoidable to begin to see them as unacceptable. The external force with which we are confronted is much more violent than what we have experienced, and thus, through the intensification of events, the internal parts that are numb are awakened and we learn to defend our integrity.
- We meet with individuals who call those parts of ourselves that have been discarded by our environment. Sometimes we find individuals who observe and promote those qualities that have not been valued during our childhood. This produces the sensation of instant healing. In this case, we might idealize the person who validates us and adopt them as a maternal or paternal figure, and we invest them with powers that replace the power that our own parents have had over us. We need to pay attention if we act in this way. Despite these individuals can heal a part of our whole self, we have still numerous qualities that we have inherited from our own parents and ancestors, and, as they work perfectly, we don’t even notice them (many of us only see that what does not work). Always remember that it is the work of our unconscious that makes us seek healing. We must thank ourselves for having been able to open up to the possibility of a structural change in our psychological architecture.
Until we integrate the totality of our being, we will look for individuals that characterize the parts of ourselves that live in our unconscious. When we become aware of this, we see others as a whole and can discern clearly.
Emotional numbness is caused by the experiences we have faced since our birth. Practically everyone have it one way or another. Understanding the reason why it occurs and how it is that our inner wisdom takes charge of it is fundamental to get out of the artificial conditioning. The belief system in which we were born is part of the format that shape our consciousness. Self-observation with compassion is something that can be learned, in the same way that being hard on ourselves is learned. When we begin to make our internal dialogs conscious, we notice that we have our immediate family and environment within ourselves, correcting us, criticizing us, etc. That is what makes our emotional numbness continue.
How to heal our emotional numbness
If we relax our body until we feel each one of its extremities, torso, head, … and we think of some situation that causes us anxiety, we will feel a knot in the stomach or another type of physical contraction, or maybe an emotion. Once we can identify the sensation and / or emotion in the body, we can talk to it directly.
What I do is ask to these sensations or emotions “what they want, what they seek, what they need”. I speak to them as if they were children, with a lot of tenderness, initiating an internal dialogue where I keep them company, I listen to them, I see the situation as they see it, I understand them, and I reach agreements that satisfy them. I know it sounds weird, but it works. It is like re-educating oneself in the way we would have wanted to be educated if we knew all that we know now about ourselves back then.
The dialogue with our sensations or emotions can go as follows:
- Anxiety: “I should have spoken out loud and I did not!”
- Me: “Why did not you do it?”
- Anxiety: “because I was afraid of being rejected”
- Me: “Why do you think you’re going to be rejected?”
- Anxiety: “I do not know…”
- If we arrive at this moment, we have found ourselves with some sort of emotional numbness, an unconscious blockage. Sometimes we need many sessions with our emotions so that they can get out of numbness. Let’s continue with the dialogue as if we could go further.
- Anxiety: “I think I will be rejected because when I speak I am very intense”.
- Me: “what does “intense” mean?”
- Anxiety: “I speak very strong, gesticulate with many movements, I move around the room …”
- Me: “something like Freddy Mercury when he’s on stage?”
- At this moment, my anxiety could turn into relieve, since we have realized together that what we were so afraid to show t others, is not only accepted by many people as pleasant but also is a quality that we like to see in others .
If a part of me has been criticized since I was a child for being very expressive in an environment where sobriety was valued, it is very possible that this part of me is repressed in adulthood because of feeling inadequate. Then, my conscious being will observe the expressive people with admiration or longing, or with envy. Envy is an emotion considered “bad” and many of us repress it because we can not accept it as part of our being without feeling that we are “bad people”. All emotions are healthy. Those that are considered negative are emotions that are not understood. Envy, for example, tells us that our unconscious is experiencing an injustice. Ignoring it for fear of being bad people will only cause our unconscious to rebel with more intensity until it is heard, and make our internal anguish grow. Don’t be afraid to feel “dark” emotions. As they have been demonized for centuries, we don’t know them, we have not studied them. All emotions act as a bridge between our conscious and our unconscious. All exist as tools of consciousness. We have to ask them what is the message they bring.
We are an extension of our family tree, we have suffered the same as our ancestors have suffered, but in our case, just because we are at the top of the tree, we have a broader perspective than the one they had. If we correct those behavioural patterns that repress the development of our true nature, we will be able to twist the evolution of our ancestral line. And if we have the strength to do so, we must thank our ancestors for having developed this strength through generations. With respect to the couples, friends and acquaintances that we have encountered along the way and who have represented our unconscious environment, we will often leave them and look for new individuals that correspond with our more integrated consciousness. For example, when we no longer need emotional abuse to clarify our unconscious patterns, we will distance ourselves from everything that is abusive and choose people who correspond with our new consciousness.