The Emotional Trap Door

Our emotions are a bellwether of what is going on subconsciously in our minds.

Mar 4th, 2019

Israel Ellis Headshot

Israel Ellis

The Emotional Trap Door

4 minute Read

Our emotions are a bellwether of what is going on subconsciously in our minds. They affect how we see things or interact with other people. They can also have a physiological effect on us; for example in a negative situation, our emotional state may manifest in physical reactions such as heat rising in our chest, sweating, etc.

Negative emotions can leave us feeling angry, upset, sad, etc., whilst positive emotions can leave us feeling high and happy – like maybe doing a “singing in the rain” number with Gene Kelly.

Of course, most of us would prefer to feel positive emotions all day long. When we are feeling positive, we are likely in an intuitively healthy place where we are making decisions that bode well for us and attracting relationships that are good for us. But this is not always the case. Sometimes negative emotions can overtake us with or without cause.

Negative emotions “with cause” are those that occur as a result of a negative event, such as an act by another person that you perceive as directed against you, that in turn spurs an emotional defensive response. The impetus can be something as minor as someone stealing a parking space from you or something more serious like being victimized in an abusive interaction. The result is a feeling of disempowerment that leaves you feeling reactive.

Negative emotions “without cause” do not arise as a result of anything in particular.

“I am feeling sad for no apparent reason.”

I am not talking about clinical depression here, but rather being overcome with negative feelings of anger, sadness, etc., that color how you see the world at that moment and thereby affect your intuitive health.

Our emotions are a byproduct of what is going on within the hidden cortex of our minds. They are our subconscious motivators coming out in a conscious form – our feelings. In Moving Through Walls (MTW) I often refer back to Bergler’s notion of taking pleasure in pain and how this creates a subconscious-to-conscious response to the inputs in everyday life (MTW page 8). How much we are influenced by these psycho-masochistic tendencies, which are the result of deeply buried feelings that come from developmental needs not being properly met or trauma experienced, may vary from mild to extreme. I am not going to get into how we go about uncovering those specific needs or traumas – that is a topic for another day. But I will give you a simple antidote to confront and change negative emotional responses – because, as I said before, most of us would prefer to be in a positive space.

Practical Tools:

The most powerful thing you can do, especially when in a negative emotional state “with cause,” is,

MTW Practice Alert:

Consciously depersonalize the situation. Openly recognize that what is happening is not about you.

This is part of the forgiveness process I talk about in MTW’s chapter five. Once you remove you from the situation, you can take back your power and get back into control.

When you are dealing with a negative emotional state that is “without cause,” practice an immediate prayer of gratefulness (MTW, Chapter 4: Visualize Your Future, page 71).

MTW Practice Alert:

Announce out loud the people and things in your life that you are grateful for. Spend a few minutes recounting the details of what you are grateful for in your life, even the challenges you face.

I assure you that when you speak out loud about your blessings, whatever dark cloud you are under will start to lift and you will see the road in front with more clarity and positivity.

One lasting tool that you can use to counteract negative emotions is to be accountable for your subconscious motivators. You do not need to spend time and energy uncovering the details of what motivates you to access this most powerful psychotherapeutic practice.

MTW Practice Alert:

Take responsibility: admit to yourself that you enjoy these negative emotional feelings as they serve some inner injustice-collecting need you have.

I don’t know why I take pleasure in these emotions, but they are my emotions and I am feeling this way so I must be taking pleasure in them.

By observing this practice you will immediately experience bringing forward, consciously, that you are acting in a way that seems counter-intuitive to your survival and growth. It certainly does not make sense that you would take pleasure in doing something that causes you pain. And I can, therefore, understand if you have a knee-jerk reaction to this idea. But that is just the point. You are confronting something within you that is hidden and by taking responsibility for it you will immediately disarm the cause behind the negative emotions you are feeling.

You can be your greatest self all the time and move through any wall! Thank you for making me a part of your journey. Let me know how it’s coming along.

 


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In Moving Through Walls I have narrowed the answers to four foundational principles. These ideas are tools to achieve the life you want to live. Embrace them and make them your own.

– Israel Ellis

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I wrote Moving Through Walls out of a purpose to share what I have learned.

If you have a deep desire to find that road less travelled to your greatest self. Then you have likely come to the right place.

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The cloud lifts. I am optimistic. I am strong. I am looking forward to my future. Those things that were weighing me down are gone and I feel lighter. I walk into my day with a smile and a sense of adventure, open to the possibilities that anything can happen today. I have the faith and belief that I am loved and entitled to succeed, and that the universe will deliver. While I may not be able to control everything that happens, I can take responsibility for how I deal with it all. I am back on the path to greatness, looking towards my future...

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Being reactive is a hard habit to break, and not just because of inertia. One of the major impediments to creating change in our lives is the pleasure we take in causing ourselves pain. When I was 19 years old, I remember asking myself a very simple question: Why am I messing up my life so much?

I found my answer in the works of Edmund Bergler. Bergler was a Freudian theorist who believed that many people experience a phenomenon he called “psychic masochism.” In his 1954 text, The Revolt of the Middle-Aged Man, Bergler wrote, “Psychic masochism, while still largely an unknown disease, is one of the most widespread of human failings. To define it briefly, it is the unconscious wish to defeat one’s conscious aims, and to enjoy that self-constructed defeat.”1 In other words, Bergler argues that we

1 Bergler was riffing off Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), who saw anxieties, depression, unhappiness, and distress as unconsciously motivated negative manifestations of what he referred to as a state of neurosis. Bergler believed that as children, we have to reconcile the natural aggression we feel towards our caregivers that results from realizing we are not omnipotent with the drive
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derive pleasure from the anxieties and unhappiness we experience, and that is why we keep putting ourselves in situations and behaving in ways that cause us pain, continually feeding a destructive cycle of our own making. In plain English, we derive unconscious (emotional) pleasure from our own pain...

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A point of caution here: Stories of grievance have a shelf life. There is a point of repetition where you risk becoming a broken record. No one has the patience to listen to the same grievance over and over again. Grievances can also eventually manifest themselves to include things that did not happen. People who have chosen to dedicate their lives to bearing crosses often become so obsessed that they lose the connection to what really happened.

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"People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of."
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It’s a beautiful summer morning on the ocean, and the perfect wave is coming in. You’ve spotted the wave, paddled hard to be in the right position to catch it, and now you are on the top—on the crest. You lean in, commit yourself, and tip the board forward. You invite the surging force of the breaking water to take over, and the result is a massive jolt of acceleration. Looking back, it seems as if everything that happened was pre-destined, there is such perfect harmony between yourself, your purpose, and nature. In that moment, riding atop the surge, is acceleration. 

"I have trust in my intuition, powered by the confidence that comes from past achievements. I have done it before; I can do it again.”

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“Foundation 4: Forgiveness

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“If you put your best foot forward and do everything within your power, you will come to a place that is your destiny. “Believe” that you are loved. “Believe” that you have value. And “believe” that you are an important part of this vast universe, one that is a far better place because you have chosen to pursue your greatness, and in doing so, have affected the world in ways that you may never become aware of.”

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“If you are meant to be on the path that you are on, the universe will find a way, even when you can’t. When you realize this fact, you will have stumbled upon one of the secret ingredients for success; if you focus on “what” you need to happen—you articulate your goal—the universe will supply the “how.” That is the power of faith. ”

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