Noemi J. Mullins

I can tell when it is happening. My body tightens, and my heart starts to beat louder. I feel an eruption entering my throat as it slowly increases in my chest. I try to swallow hard to avoid any reaction for fear of what it will cause. As if the swallow triggered a domino-effect, I immediately told myself, “you are being silly, don’t tear up.”

My inner talk is louder and more dominant. It dismisses [‘stupid’] my emotional response as it attempts to rationalize my [“irrational,” natural”] responses. It creates a conflict that is difficult to comprehend. I withdraw shallowly, again, and listen loudly to the voice that tells me to “stop being sensitive.”

Many of my clients have reported experiencing similar feelings and patterns. Can you relate to this?

By avoiding my emotions and bodily reactions, I literally became emotionally handicapped, and I didn’t even know it! I was emotionally handicapped by my avoidance and lack of self-awareness. Years later, I realized that this behavior had become a part of my routine and comfort zone. Slowly, it became apparent to me that my erratic behaviors were a way to avoid facing the real issues within me. Why? I was afraid of being rejected by others for exposing my feelings. Intoxication for no apparent reason would make me explode with anger. I would then settle for unhealthy relationships and neglectful ones in a desperate attempt to feel understood or complete. I was missing the foundation of what I was feeling deep inside myself. As I thought more and more ashamed and misunderstood, I realized that I had lost touch with myself.

We are told as children that we should not cry. We¬†shouldn’t act like babies even if we can’t process the emotions and communicate them to our parents. We might have been in trouble for misbehaving because we couldn’t express our pain. Perhaps we grew up in an environment where we were not allowed to express our feelings. We learned to hide them, to fear them, and to deny that they are a part of us.

Adults often tell us that emotional reactions aren’t that important and we shouldn’t take things personally. We might fall in love and have our hearts broken for the first or second time. Or a friend may betray us. Adults may not be able to hear us because they are too busy. Unfortunately, when we experience these emotions, not being listened to reinforces our inability to feel safe and trusted by others. It supports the message that we were taught as children, namely that we must be doing something wrong if we feel sad or cry. This enhances the conflict: “are my feelings irrational or logical?”

Then, we enter adult relationships hoping to experience the love and intimacy of a movie but end up falling flat on our faces when we discover that it doesn’t exist. Without knowing ourselves, we try to emulate intimacy and connection without letting our guard go. Unconsciously, we protect our emotions out of fear that our partner will negatively interpret them. So, instead of expressing our feelings to them in a positive light, we act in polar opposite ways. This phenomenon can be classified as transference.

Are our emotions irrational, or are they logical? Our logical minds label emotions as “irrational.” (And to be fair, this is partly true). It’s not always true that our feelings are logical or follow social norms. When our brains can’t make sense of what we’re feeling, it leads to an uncomfortable internal conflict. How can you find a solution to this conflict that will benefit both parties?

Acceptance is the first step.

Your brain is satisfied when you accept logically that your emotions are not “sensible.” You can also validate yourself by acknowledging that what you feel is real, even if it doesn’t make sense. Feels liberated when you accept that it is normal, natural, and, most importantly,¬†part of your being.

Acceptance is empowering. Acceptance can help us to become more aware of our strengths and abilities. We run the risk that we will never be understood or experience intimacy if we hide our natural feelings and responses as adults.

So go ahead… See what happens when you permit yourself to [emotional] human beings. I dare you!

Thank you for reading! This article should help normalize the tendency to protect oneself emotionally and our internal conflicts in answering the question: Are our emotions rational or irrational? You don’t always need to have the answer. Sometimes, you just need to permit yourself to mess up.

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