Overcoming Damaged Emotions
hen Jane was five years of age, her father went to the war. When he returned several years later, he never came home but went to live with another woman. Jane was crushed. As an adult she had marriage problems because she wasn't able to trust her husband. This was because she had an unconscious fear that he would go away, too. When her buried fear came to consciousness, she was able to resolve it and get very close to her husband.
Most people didn't have as traumatic an experience as Jan had. However, because nobody has had a perfect upbringing, all have some damaged areas of their personality. Unfortunately, these damaged emotions can and do have a profound effect on every area of adult life—especially in the area of relationships.
The following are some of the common symptoms of damaged emotions as pointed out by Dr. David Seamands on his taped message, "Damaged Emotions."*
Super-sensitivity. The person who is hurt easily or cut deeply with the slightest criticism has been hurt in the past. Dr. David Seamands describes this type of person as one who "has reached out for love and approval, but has received the opposite. He is shattered by perfectly normal or accidental happenings; he feels that people are against him. He has to have constant reassurance, only he can never get enough. Or, he may react in just the opposite way. Life has been cruel to him so he gets tough and wants to hurt others as he has been hurt."
Sad to say, rarely does he see his super-sensitivity as his problem. He doesn't realize that people mostly are not hurting him but merely triggering the hurt that is already there.
The procrastinator can be most
frustrating. He forgets things,
dawdles, daydreams, runs late,
says 'yes' but acts 'no.'
Perfectionism. The perfectionist can be difficult to live with. Take Greg, for example. In school he did very well, earning mostly A's with a few B's. But instead of getting praised, he was criticized by his father for not getting all A's. He grew up feeling that whatever he did was never quite good enough. As an adult he still feels that what he does—and what others do—isn't good enough either.
Sometimes he projects his enslaving demands for perfection onto God, feeling that he has to be perfect to please Him, too. This isn't so. God accepts him exactly as he is.
Rebellion. The rebel reacts when he feels he is being over-controlled, as that's the kind of atmosphere he grew up in.
As a teenager Susan felt she wasn't allowed to think for herself or make her own decisions. She felt over-coerced, and finally rebelled by doing the opposite of what her parents had planned for her to do. Her parents then rejected her further because she refused to conform to their unrealistic expectations. This type of conditioning always programs a child for problems later in life.
Procrastination. The procrastinator can be most frustrating. He forgets things, dawdles, daydreams, runs late, says "yes" but acts "no." If pushed too hard, he may become openly aggressive, but mostly he passively resists and withdraws.
He too has been over-controlled, smothered or over-indulged. He is also hostile, but instead of openly rebelling, rebels inwardly through passive resistance. His reaction can be more damaging than open rebellion. For instance, "Psychological studies done on soldiers in wartime show that those who 'crack up' most often and most severely are the products of over-protective mothers."1
5. All articles on the ACTS International website are by Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise noted.
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