Emotional reactivity in our selves and those around us has a cost. It limits our abilities to choose differently. When you begin making your needs a priority, this change can create reactivity in others. You’re no longer predictable emotionally and your new inner strength can be unsettling. When we are anxious about how others will react,we don’t pursue our needs because we’re afraid of getting their reactivity thrown at us. It’s just easier to keep pleasing others. This is especially true when dealing with an employer, a spouse, a parent, or any other person we perceive as having influential power.
Reactivity has become so common that we’re uncomfortable when someone doesn’t have an expected reaction. It’s as if they don’t care or are coldly responding in the face of a situation that demands emotional reactivity. Somehow reactivity has come to mean you care because you’re uncontrollably upset.
Because we’ve become so accustomed to our own reactive nature, we can’t see how often we take what people say and do personally. When you take other people’s emotional reactivity personally, you are handing over your freedom to them. Their approval becomes the most important thing – far more important than what YOU want or how YOU want to live your life. You’re no longer free to see how you really feel about a situation. You are reacting to the perceived control the other person is exerting. When someone is reactive and spraying you with their emotions, it’s usually an indication of how they’re feeling and truly has nothing to do with you.
Sometimes emotional reactivity makes a person want to shut down and withdraw. Just the thought of getting sprayed with more reactivity causes some of us to stuff our emotions. It’s as if we put them in the freezer to be addressed later. We certainly won’t let the reactive people around us know how we feel; we’ll merely get more emotions thrown our way. Maintaining this type of control over your own deep feelings is a way to protect yourself and it can feel suffocating. It often leads to avoiding necessary discussions, a loss of personal boundaries, and a pattern of trying to please the reactive one so you don’t feel their discomfort.
Depending on your family or cultural norms, stuffing your emotions can be the proper way to behave and there’s great pressure to prevent you from allowing your emotions to flow. When you freeze your emotions long enough, it can be hard to get in touch with how you really feel and this creates another set of challenges.
In the movie, The King’s Speech, we have an example of how to stay grounded emotionally while allowing another to thaw his emotions. Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) is a highly skilled speech therapist who is introduced to a famous and powerful new client, the future King George VI (Colin Firth). Lionel has the challenging task of helping his client work with his stammering. King George, or “Bertie” as Lionel calls him, doesn’t feel fit to be king. Bertie believes his stammering is an embarrassment to him, his family, and his country. Lionel helps Bertie to begin thawing his emotions and provides a space where it’s okay for the past pain and struggles to be released. Lionel has much practice in this work. He has worked with many men returning from war who have experienced trauma. Lionel helped these men by allowing their emotions to be expressed and psyches to heal.
Bertie experienced a difficult childhood. He was ridiculed for his stammering and it seems he was neglected as a child. We see how these experiences have remained with him and how he stuffed all the emotion.
Lionel shows us how to stay calm and centered in the face of someone releasing their frozen emotions. He doesn’t get reactive and does not take the King’s emotional responses personally. Lionel becomes a powerful example of how to respond to others instead of react. It takes calm strength and gentle courage to remain balanced in the face of emotional releasing.
How Do You Know If You’re Reacting or Releasing?
It can be tricky and complicated to recognize when you’re unconsciously reacting and when you’re releasing. Here are some general tips that we’ve experienced that might help you decipher. Reactivity often has a recognizable pattern: person A does something and you react. This reaction typically happens regardless of who is involved. The content is very similar and produces the same reaction. You start to see a pattern, hearing yourself saying and complaining about the same thing repeatedly.
Releasing is more difficult to detect. We’ve found that our releasing looks like overblown emotion that’s disproportionate to the issue at hand. It’s similar to an explosion that came out of nowhere and has intensity that’s just not rational. Think of a volcano erupting without warning. Bertie shows us examples of what this looks like. He starts to release his emotions with such power around discussions of his past. Each time he explodes, he feels better and has less of an emotional charge around his stammering. Bertie has kept all these emotions locked up inside and they erupt with great force when the pressure is released.
When you recognize you’re releasing, it’s beneficial to seek out an experienced practitioner, clergy member, or teacher. Many times, we unconsciously expect our mate, family or friends to play the counselor role. This can be asking too much of them, especially if their pattern is to react unconsciously. It’s not their job to facilitate you through these times. Sure they can be supportive, but too much releasing can put unnecessary stress on your most cherished connections. Bertie didn’t expect his wife to counsel him through these challenging moments. Having Lionel’s expertise allowed her to lovingly support him to keep going.
Remember, this can be challenging work, so get some help and know you’re worth it. The more your emotion builds up, the more problems you’ll experience later. Sue-Anne uses the example of defrosting a freezer with her clients. It takes time to melt the layers of ice and you can’t force it without damaging the freezer. A skilled practitioner can help you melt these frozen emotions and it will make the process much smoother. Bertie was fortunate to have such a skilled teacher in Lionel and ends up gaining a lifelong friend.
We recommend the movie, The King’s Speech. As you watch it, here are some things to consider:
- How did Bertie’s emotions become so frozen?
- How do you freeze your emotions?
If you’re open to discussing it with us, please use the comments section to share your insights.
The Steps To Energetically Benefit from This AP Session:
- If you haven’t done the Intention Session, then do this first and only once. Think of it as downloading an App on your smartphone. Once completed then you’re ready to benefit from any of our AP movies/TV shows.
- Rent and watch the entire movie: The King’s Speech
- If you notice relief in the subsequent days, please pass this blog to someone you know who might appreciate some assistance. If you’re so inspired to like us on our Facebook page or Google+ – we welcome the love!