Emotional memories are imprinted within us.
We remember what we feel!
Strong emotional experiences, both pleasurable and painful, are stored in our memory.
Pleasurable experiences are ones we like to repeat. But painful, upsetting, traumatic experiences are stored in a special way that can become "Emotional Allergies".
An emotional allergy is like a physical allergy; it is based on a unique sensitivity that we have due to the meaning we gave, consciously or unconsciously, to upsetting, painful experiences in our lives.
Few of us are intimately familiar with our own emotional allergies, let alone those of loved ones.
Our minds have an ability to push painful memories away so that we can function in our everyday lives.
Sometimes an incident in the present brings back the painful feelings we had when we were hurt, upset or frightened in the past. When something happens that reminds us of the past, we can get emotionally flooded -- as if our feelings and thoughts become hijacked -- and feel overwhelmed.
When we become flooded with painful feelings such as anger, sadness, fear, regret, guilt, or shame, it's unlikely we will fully understand why we are so upset.
What we will understand rather quickly, however, is the impact of our reaction -- the behaviors others see and experience from us -- when an emotional allergy is triggered.
Loved ones can be left completely bewildered when we get triggered by an emotional allergy. Because they don't know the origins of what caused our unique sensitivity and the memories to which it's connected, they can become reactive at a time when we most need understanding and comfort.
It's not unusual for one person's reaction to an emotional allergy -- such as withdrawing, threatening (subtly or actively), ignoring, yelling, etc. -- to trigger another person's emotional allergy related to their own life experiences. When that happens, loved ones can find themselves stuck in a painful, seemingly endless loop that can devastate trust, friendship, love, and intimacy.
The goal of this exercise is to help you find the exit ramps to that painful loop and change it into a positive experience that increases trust, understanding and love.