According to Martha Beck, there are two ways people handle their emotions. One is Story Fondling and the other is Fire Fleeing. Both of them are ways of ‘not’ dealing.
Story Fondlers have true emotional wounds and will likely tell their woes over and over to whoever will listen. They believe if only bad things didn’t continue to happen to them, their lives would be great. There is always someone or something responsible for their unhappiness. I refer to this as ‘poor me’ syndrome. I have visited this place on more than one occasion, truth be told.
But, my favorite, all time most visited method is Fire Fleeing. I and these people know there is a problem that needs to be addressed or with even greater skill they will be able to delude themselves to the point of believing that there is no problem – heavy denial is real work, let me tell you. Fire fleers are firm believers in ‘just ignore it and it will go away.’ And it is very sensible to run from anything that could possibly burn you, right?
This week I came face to face with buried anger. I knew I was angry. I was not surprised that my anger surfaced. I was surprised, however, by how much there was and how hot it was! ‘Natural response? Run! Not the best idea where emotions are concerned. They never actually go anywhere. I’ve found they pop up at really inconvenient times just to let me know they will not be ignored. I’ve also come to realize that I actually thought if I was aware of the problem, well then, that was as good as dealing with it. Wrong!
If you are a story fondler, pick something you complain about often, stop discussing it and take action to change it. Stop complaining to your coworkers about how poorly your boss treats you and quit, or ask for a raise. If you are continually lending money and not being repaid, stop saying yes -say no and mean it. If a loved one is addicted and it’s ruining your life, stage an intervention, or go to a codependency group. Take some action or stop complaining.
If it is your nature to ignore your feelings, or if there are awful things in your life that you never allow yourself to think about, stop running. In fact, stop doing anything, for at least a couple of hours a week. Stop smoking, drinking, eating, working, drugging, jogging, cleaning, gossiping, reading-halt all activity that keeps you distracted. Find a compassionate witness who’s willing to listen, and then talk about the things in your history and your heart that you least want to talk about.Practice feeling your feelings. I promise you won’t die.
I now have a homework assignment for myself. I am in the process of articulating my anger, getting it all out and allowing myself to feel the anger. When I don’t die, I will figure out what the real issues are and then decide what to do about them. I hope I will do this maturely and wisely. I’m not guaranteeing anything at this time.