“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.” This quote from Sigmund Freud says it all when we see people who seem to say or do things that are counter productive to their own growth and happiness. We may wonder why they can’t see that what they are doing is harmful and just stop doing it. We may even judge them to be ungrateful, selfish or weak. The operative word here is ‘judge.’
When we fall into the trap of judging others everyone looses. But when we really try to learn more to understand what is truly happening to someone we know and love an entirely different world opens up to us. Hopefully, it causes us to feel more deeply as our empathy begins to kick in. With knowledge we become more proactive rather than reactive.
Compassion causes us to ‘see the me in you.’ We may at first feel sympathy for someone when we see their suffering but we can only feel empathy when we try to understand and relate by putting ourselves in their shoes. You may be wondering how it’s possible to do this – good question!
By taking the time to observe, listen, read and involve ourselves – even from afar- to really understand what another person is going through it causes us to become more thoughtful, wise and caring human beings. Rather than dismiss a particular behavior as bad or unproductive we push ourselves to try to figure out the ‘why’ behind it.
Maia Szalavitz, author of the recently published book “Unbroken Brain” takes us on a journey that helps us understand the why in addiction and explains the brain changes that take place. We learn that primarily psychological needs rather than just physical desire truly drive addiction but can be changed with learning. She explains why the majority of rehab programs simply don’t work yet gently guides us with first hand knowledge to find those approaches that do work to heal and move forward.
The topic of addiction is actually more common then we might first believe. Whether we are talking about drinking, using drugs (both legal and illegal) gambling, eating, shopping even cleaning the evidence of addiction is all around us. Some folks with addictions are able to harness their overactive brains and manage their lives. But for many others who have as Freud points out deep seated unexpressed emotions of early trauma they need more time, help and understanding. Approaches that help them see their value rather than their deficits are crucial to overcoming their need for an emotionally escape. It’s obvious from reading her book that Szalavitz has experienced the world of addiction and has devoted her life to helping us understand more deeply and therefore put our tendency of discounting or judging to rest.
When we run across someone who can explain, inspire an educate us so that we become more caring, thoughtful human beings it’s important to pass it on – pay it forward. One thing’s for sure, if you take the time to read this book you will never be the same again. You will never again think to yourself ‘why don’t they just…’ because you’ll be better than that.
Please pass this blog on to anyone you know that might benefit from it. Let’s commit to helping each other on our life journey as we remember ‘A friend walks in when everyone else walks out.’
Have a great few days!