I want to start by reminding you that intense emotions look different to a child than they do to our adult self. We label much of what I will explore here as overreactive or dramatic, but really, it is usually a very real emotion being felt. Children are not desensitized and out of touch like so many of us adults.
Imagine you are six years old and it's one of those not-so-great moments. You are crying because something has upset you. Maybe you didn't get what you wanted and don't understand why. Maybe a parent or sibling said something that hurt your feelings. Maybe you weren't comforted when you needed to be. Perhaps you were even spanked or locked in your room as punishment for something.
These are all "normal" things, right?
So now you are upset. Your mother tells you not to be a crybaby. Or your father tells you the boys don’t cry. Man up. Don't overreact. Maybe they record you so they can show you how silly you look. Maybe you are ridiculed, shamed or punished for crying over this incident.
What's that phrase so many of us know... "if you cry when I spank you, I'll spank you again" or "I'm going to give you something to cry about".
But these are all "normal", right?
This is the day that your walls have their foundation laid.
Every time you begin to feel similar emotions, that little voice in your head convinces you that crying is bad, that it's dangerous, and you continue to lay more bricks onto the walls. You continue to build rooms with more walls and this act of laying bricks eventually becomes automatic because that just becomes how we deal with our emotions when it's not safe to express them.
Instead of really feeling sadness and anger, which we are often told are not ok to feel, we lay more bricks.
It’s only takes one negative interaction to begin building the walls.
It only takes one significant event for us to feel like it is not safe to feel our emotions.
And those patterns continue throughout your adolescence. You continue to build those walls, and those walls build rooms and the rooms make up a palace. A palace that just continues to get bigger.
Eventually you become an adult and you cannot connect with the emotions that are behind these walls. However, it isn't just the anger and sadness. You can’t access your joy or your love or any emotion for that matter because you are so used to locking away and building a wall around it.
That is why mental breaks happen.
That is when depression really sets in.
That is when we feel stuck because we literally are. We have a palace in the way.