Finding Your Kryptonite… What Emotions do you Avoid?
One of my theories about people is that we spend a lot of time trying to avoid certain, specific, core, ouchy emotions (based on Steven Stosny’s ideas about ‘core hurts’)
What is a core hurt? Sometimes we’ve spent so much time (usually when we were young) feeling unimportant, or powerless, or unloved, abandoned, rejected, worthless… that it’s like a huge bruise, and very small triggers (things people we’re close to say and do) can lead to an avalanche of this emotion that we have had enough of. You know when you work out your body really hard, and the next day the cat walks on your legs and you scream in pain? Like that… Or like Superman feels weak when he’s around only a tiny bit of kryptonite. We feel overwhelmed by even a bit of this emotion that we can’t tolerate feeling (our personal kryptonite) and we panic, sometimes leading to controlling behaviours (avoiding the emotion) or passivity, depression or self-flagellation (drowning in the emotion).
What’s your kryptonite? I think mine might be ‘unimportant’. This might be why I react internally when my emails are ignored. Doink…I don’t like that feeling. I try not to take these things personally (I use my thoughts to cool my jets). Identifying what it is you can’t stand feeling is an important step.
Let’s say your kryptonite is powerlessness…Everyone needs to feel powerful…not power over others, but the power to determine our lives and feel like we can make things better for ourselves and our loved ones. If you can’t stand feeling powerless (maybe because your power has been taken away from you at some point), your triggers may be these… when something or someone gets in your way…when something doesn’t go your way…when you feel trapped…and you might react by trying to change the thing that’s in your way (someone else), except this doesn’t really work.
A few examples…
- Joe comes home feeling stressed from work and sees a shoe by the door. He blows up, screaming about how many times he’s told the kids to put their shoes away.
- Sandy is driving and traffic is slow due to construction. She over-boils knowing that she’ll be late for a meeting.
- Jean is in a crowded meeting and suddenly feels the urge to run. She feels a panic attack coming on.
Building an Air Conditioner… When you are triggered, an air conditioner is made up of four things:
- Learning to tolerate the emotion. Recognize what it is you’re feeling, and remind yourself that it’s JUST a feeling…it won’t kill you.
- Compassion. If you can accept that you are not perfect and still love yourself…if you can accept that other people have flaws and you can like them…then you can relax a bit.
- Self -esteem. If you know and believe strongly in your worth, your power, your importance, your lovability, then you will feel less vulnerable to being triggered.
- Empathy. If you recognize how your behaviours affect your loved ones…this can help you make different choices.
All this is really about building emotional intelligence and coping skills to deal with emotions. Try using a qualified therapist to help you establish and practise new ways of thinking about and dealing with emotions.