Being aware of our inner life is crucial for the ability to connect with others, and another way to explore this in more depth is to take special notice when you have a strong emotional reaction to any person, place, event or thing.
For example, Charles Whitfield, the world renowned author, has shared that while he was on an aeroplane once, he heard the sound of someone repeatedly shuffling a deck of playing cards and found himself feeling agitated and angry, ‘almost as though I would like to run up to the person and strangle them!’ When he remembered that as a child, his parents and their friends often played cards when he was trying to sleep at night, he realised that the anger he had to ‘stuff down’ as a child was being re-ignited by the current sounds on the plane.
You could also check out the times when something happens and you hardly react at all.
John Bradshaw, a Psychologist and Author, describes how he was once walking with a friend past a tall block of flats and someone threw a bag full of rubbish down from one of the highest floors. The bag landed with a resounding thump next to John and his friend and would have hurt anyone it landed on. John's friend jumped and became angry that this had happened, an appropriate response, whereas John had ignored it and simply walked on. This event was one of the experiences that helped John to realise that his natural responses were shut down.
YOUR TRUE SELF
Charles Whitfield also uses the term 'True Self' to describe the authentic core of who we really are as an individual and shows how most people learn to hide their True Self to one degree or another during their upbringing. They learn to disconnect from who they really are, and especially disconnect from their natural and appropriate responses to life events, in order to fit into the family roles and school expectations.
Later on as an adult almost anything- sights, smells, sounds, words and especially relational conflicts can trigger reactions that connect us straight back to the past where the original natural responses became 'frozen in time' and are still waiting to be healed.
As you go about your week, if you notice yourself having a strong emotional reaction/reduced reaction to something, why not try saying the following phrase to yourself:
'These feelings might not all be about now.'
Letting yourself know this can make it easier for you to bring yourself back to the present moment, which is where we get the 'juice' out of life. It can also help to stop the past from negatively impacting current relationships.