Do you procrastinate your emotions for a rainy day?

One of the most common defence mechanisms we use to deal with trauma is Intellectualization. Many of us use this technique without even realising from time to time and it can lead to further problems.

Intellectualization example -

Doctor: I am sorry to inform you that you have been diagnosed with Cancer.

Patient: Ok, so what are the next steps? How effective is Chemo? What kinds of medication will I need to take?

Doctor: There are a number of treatment and methods we can offer depending on the results of the scan, I realise this may have come as a shock to you, take some time to let things sink in.

Patient: No I am fine doctor, at the end of the day plenty of people get diagnosed with Cancer and I'm no different, so what are the side effects of Chemo?

Most of us can relate to this kind of defence mechanism, It is built in to protect our vulnerable emotions. You engross yourself so deeply in the reasoning aspect of a situation that you completely disregard the emotional aspect that is involved. You basically buy yourself some time before confronting this issue and dealing with the emotion.

There are benefits to this kind of psychology, such as avoiding floods of tears and emotional break down in the presence of your Doctor, and having the ability to consciously avoid anxious feelings. It may in some cases seem appropriate to help others intellectualize problems to help them deal with grief or sorrow. It is however important to remember that intellectualization could lead to emotional breakdowns further down the line, if the emotions are not dealt with.

Most people will naturally avoid emotion until they can let it out some place they feel comfortable such as at home with family, or on their own somewhere. But that doesn't happen with everybody, and some of us will put off getting into contact with our emotions (procrastinate) on them. This can become very problematic if emotions and trauma are put off for long periods of time. Stored up emotions can accumulate and surface unconsciously and unexpectedly. The person may not realise that their behaviour and emotional state may be indirectly affected by a problem that happened years ago. The suppressed emotions can affect all aspects of life such as relationships, physical and mental health, work, decision making, financial health and more.

It is important that people are aware of this so they can avoid allowing suppressed emotions affect their future wellbeing and mental health.

It is therefore essential that we learn to understand our emotions better and deal with traumatic experiences with the care they deserve.

There are many ways of confronting our problems, counselling is one of them.

Counselling sessions should help clients to access their emotions at their own will rather than forcing them to do so. Clients should over time not just talk about feelings but also experience them. It is important before arriving at this stage clients are emotionally intelligent enough to deal with the feelings in question.

There are lots of support groups and local organisations willing to offer help for free if you are dealing with trauma. Check out the NHS website for details.

We offer workplace mental health training based in Lancashire that is available upon request and delivered onsite by Inner Peak Wellbeing and our team of experienced instructors. Contact us for details and support your team.

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