“I’m ok Dad.”
I know he usually isn’t. It’s a ‘been there, seen it and bought the t-shirt’ kind of feeling, but my gut is right on this one. I am as sure as chips are chips. He is showing me that he is coping, but more importantly of all he is showing himself that he is coping.
When I think of coping I also think of my Mum, so I guess it’s not just an issue for the stiff upper lip? My Mum is always complaining, but her complaints are of a soap opera type nature. It usually concerns the price of carrots, the behaviour of her children or the general annoyance of her husband. I’m sure she doesn’t get any enjoyment from complaining. She just does it because that is what she has always done. If I ever mention it to her, she seems surprised that she is even acting in this way. But when it comes to the real gems. Those diamonds that cut her deeply and leave scars that only she can feel. Those gems are buried deep within her sub-conscious. Once again she copes.
There is a belief that people suffer from stress because they cannot cope. They breakdown, they fall apart and they need psychological help, all because of their failure to cope. I believe the opposite is true. I believe it is the people who cope that are falling apart. But like the white cliffs of Dover – we can’t see the erosion. It’s subtle but savage, each wave of psychological abuse crashing into the heart like a ten-ton wave.
When we are hit with an emotional problem – and we decide to cope with that problem – what we are really doing is repressing it. It’s like a fat bloke trying to get into an all-in one bathing suit. It doesn’t matter how hard he squeezes, a lump will pop up somewhere. The same is true with repressed emotion. They pop up in different formats, for different people. For me they surface in tidal waves of rage. When they are repressed I feel them in forms of tension in my body. I get aches and pains and in turn they affect my mood. I develop the blues and can’t be bothered being bothered.
I am sure we are different, and handle things in different ways, but we do all have one thing in common. If we believe that we can cope, then we are deluding ourselves. Coping is repressing and repressing is like hiding your pornographic magazines when you still live with your Mum. You will be found out eventually. There’s no doubting that.
So what can you do about it?
You need to stop repressing your emotions. First the bad news! You will have been behaving in this way your entire life. You have created a habit of repressing emotions and you cannot erase your habits. They are there forever and for good reason. But what you can do it develop a stronger and more positive habit. Enrol your time and energy in the new habit and the old one will become repressed.
I like to journal at the end of my day. Take a few minutes to meditate and ask yourself how you are feeling? Journaling is a way of giving your body a voice. It allows your body to tell you how you are feeling and why? If you journal long enough – if you develop this wonderful habit, then you will start to see the signs and act in a way that will help your body shine. Look after your mind and body and they will look after you. Concentrate on any emotions that you would much rather keep to yourself and share them with your pages. This certainly helps if you are a man’s man. If you want to keep your journalling a secret then create one on your computer. But I must stress that the best way to deal with these types of emotions are to share them. With this in mind another great habit is to check in with your partner, or someone else you trust and is close to you. A lot of the times these emotions will actually involve the person you are checking in with. This clear the air ritual removes any chances of repressed emotions because you are actually dealing with them and getting them off your chest.
Does this article ring any alarm bells for you? How do you cope?
Photo courtesy of bottled void (CC $ Flickr.com)