I'm a full time music student at the moment, and I'm loving learning how to write songs, perform in front of people and express myself through music. Music is great because it deals with both the analytical and emotional side of our brain.
Becoming a rock star isn't all riffs and distortion. There's conflict with other musicians to navigate too.
However, the irrational nature of emotions means that they don't always arise just when we want them to. Most of us are still carrying unhealed emotional baggage from our past which can get triggered in what might otherwise seem fairly innocuous situations. This can make dealing with unexpected upsets challenging both in ourselves and in other people.
In yesterday's guitar class, I got triggered by my teacher's response to what I though was a fairly intelligent question about whether the best way to improvise over a chord sequence in a major key would be by using the associated relative minor scale. My engineering brain thought that this would lead to less potential dissonance; but for any other budding musicians out there the answer turns out to be No: you use the minor pentatonic scale of the same key.
I recently joined a men's group which now meets at my house once a fortnight. The idea of joining such a group was suggested to me a few years ago by a mentor of mine and they're highly regarded in the men's work movement and in books like Steve Biddulph's excellent book Manhood. A few years back I started hearing about them all over the place and when I start hearing about an idea from multiple sources, I begin paying attention.
You don't need to be alone in your loneliness.
It's taken a few attempts to find a group that really works for me; this is my third men's group in fact. The first one didn't meet often enough to really get traction, and some of the participants seemed so stuck in their own ways that I found the meetings very frustrating. We spent tremendous amounts of time on situations that had seemingly trivial solutions, like one guy who was in a lengthy and expensive legal battle with his sister. Even on the basis of his telling of his side of the story, we all thought he owed her an apology rather than more litigation. He didn't see it, and instead wanted our moral support for continuing to attack her in the courts over a dodgy property deal that he had engineered. I didn't enjoy being around guys who were wasting their energy on crap like that.
Anger is one of the emotions that I have found most difficult to deal with in the past. I grew up in a house where anger was handled in ways that I found very frightening, leading me to become very afraid of conflict. This meant that I made a decision fairly early on in life that anger was a "bad" emotion that I should suppress at all costs. I became very ashamed of anybody knowing when I was angry.
I ended up internalising a lot of rage and unhappiness. I just didn't know how to let anger go and how to get it out of my system. It wasn't until the last few years that I even realised just how angry I was deep down.
I now know that anger is not "bad" emotion; it's just a signal that our needs aren't getting met. Anger provides energy for us to act assertively in situations where people are treating us in ways we don't like. If we've learned to be passive in the face of our anger, that energy gets trapped in our nervous system.
Because I have many years of internalising my anger, the situations where I would have liked to act assertively have long passed. Yet I'm still carrying that anger in my nervous system.
So the question becomes: How to let it go?
Sumelevate Life Coach Sume Chatz recently interviewed me for his video podcast about how I work with my coaching clients to help them heal emotional trauma from the past so they can move on to a happier future.
The interview packs a heap of information into a half hour, covering topics like:
- How family of origin issues can set you up for emotional problems down the track
- The impact of poor communication skills on our world view as children
- How to heal overwhelming anxiety
- The role of the subconscious and how to work with it
- Mindfulness and the importance of living in the present
- What I actually do in Skype sessions with my clients
- How to coach someone in emotional trauma
- How to get motivated towards your goals
That's a lot of valuable information for one half hour! I recommend you check it out.
The one thing I didn't mention explicitly was what exactly emotional trauma is: the emotional residue left in our brains and nervous system attached to memories of any emotionally overwhelming past event that we weren't able to fully express and release at the time.
Healing trauma is important because emotionally charged memories from the past restrict our ability to be freely self-expressed and get on with life in the present.
Let’s have a bit of a chat about a massive topic that undermines self-confidence and that is called shame. And in addition to just talking about it, I reckon that there’s a book you should read about it, which is this one: It’s called Healing The Shame That Binds You by John Bradshaw, and it’s an absolute classic in the area of dealing with this nasty substance called toxic shame.