Are you ‘Unplugged?’
Every time life deals us a negative blow, we withdraw a little. We toughen up, we cultivate a thicker skin. Our emotional baggage begins to grow and so we buy more suitcases. One labelled “emotional unavailability”, another named “lack of empathy” and perhaps another tagged with “I won’t let anyone get emotionally close to me ever again”.
When we get hurt by others, by life, by idiots and narrow minded people, it is vital to deal with the issues as they present themselves (ie. staying “plugged in”). If we don’t openly and honestly tackle the issues (such as an abusive partner, a difficult boss, a selfish sibling etc), we tend to become numb to them. Being numb is the same as being “unplugged”.
The term “unplugged” is a word I use often in my work. Being unplugged can be seen as similar to being disconnected from the electricity socket. Imagine a lamp that is not plugged into the electricity socket. You won’t feel the highs and lows of the electricity/volts flowing through and in this way you are ‘safe’. The only problem with this strategy is that you become more of a passive observer in life. You go through the motions but never truly feel alive. It would be impossible to experience the highs and lows of life whilst unplugged. Many may prefer this idea of staying safe and numb but I have come across many clients who have lived unplugged for many years and have seen the consequences.
What tends to happen is that they lose a sense of themselves, of what makes them happy. It’s like living life through a glass box. You can see everything, hear everything but there is this barrier to connecting with others, to feeling happy or sad. A landscape barren of emotion emerges and this is an unnatural way of living. Humans are social creatures, we need to feel connected to feel truly happy. Unfortunately, life has ups and downs so in order to experience the highs, we need to experience the lows as well. This is how it is meant to be..just like the tides and waves in the sea and the movement of the planets.
We try to shut ourselves off as a defense mechanism. We naively think that living unplugged will be the answer but it never is. Trust me on this one. Living a life unplugged can lead to depression, disassociation from oneself and others and can affect cognitive function as well.
Plug yourself back in:
1) Embrace emotion
Don’t be afraid of it. Feeling emotions means you are alive and learning..growing.
2) Ask others how they feel
Not just as in “how are you?”..REALLY ask how they are feeling and be ready to discuss what they say.
3) Identify emotions within yourself
Learn to label how you are feeling. get back in touch with your emotional side.
4) Make emotion your friend
The more you explore emotions and become comfortable with them, the more plugged in and connected you will feel.
We aren’t robots, we are living breathing organisms. Our brains are structured in such a way so that we may experience emotion. The amygdala to be precise. The amygdala is part of the limbic system which is responsible for processing emotions. Experiencing emotion is how we are designed.
Dance like no one is watching
Love like you’ve never been hurt
Sing like nobody’s listening
Live like it’s heaven on earth
Photo by Nomadic Lass