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Emotional Regression

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Okay, this is a topic perhaps more appropriate for the "personal growth" forum, and as its a part of my healing process, posting it here makes sense to me. Over the weekend, I finished a book called link removed by John Lee. The topic is emotional regression. Basically, it talks about events that happen that cause us to go into rage (as opposed to anger, which the author says is not in and of itself a harmful emotion) not because of what is happening now, because they cause us to regress to how we were at a younger age, generally as children. For example, he cites the case of a woman who was in the kitchen making dinner. Her husband comes into the house and is standing in the doorway watching her. She gets increasingly nervous and then snaps at him. He storms off really hurt, and the woman doesn't understand why she did this. After talking to someone, she realized this related back to a time when she was a child. When her parents would fight, she would stay at the home of an aunt and uncle. Sometimes, she'd wake up and see her uncle in the doorway of her bedroom, just staring at her. There was no abuse or anything, he just stared. She never knew why. Now, when her husband was behind her in the doorway, she regressed back to her child self, and again was hit with the "WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT!" The author gives many other examples, such as a man who hated church because of an incident that happened when he was very young when a baby (less than a year old) was crying and the child's mother took the baby aside. The congregation heard slapping, more crying, and finally silence. The preacher then said "Now, there's a mother who's not going to spoil her child and get away with misbehaving." He was appalled and left church and never went back, because every time he would even think of going back, he regressed to this past time. The focus of the book is on "growing yourself back up" and getting out of the regression and acting in adult manners. He goes into appropriate ways to express anger and inappropriate ones, which include shaming, blaming, demeaning, demoralizing, criticizing, preaching, teaching and analyzing. I look at this list and see many times I've expressed anger inappropriately.


The author discusses triggers of emotional regression (exhaustion, hunger, loneliness, shaming, preaching and analyzing, among others) and ways to grow oneself back up. He goes into how to avoid regression at family functions, in the workplace, with friends and lovers, and with children.


A lot of regression seems to involve parents, and there are sections devoted to letting go of our parents. How many adults still live to please their parents or in accordance with their parents wishes, often putting aside their own desires or those of people they love. I know I have, on more than a few occasions.


I found this book fascinating, and will be doing a lot of exploring of my own regression triggers. In fact, I am looking into taking a seminar on regression. I'll be honest, I don't totally "get it" yet, and I am beginning to understand a lot of my behavior a lot better and I'm excited about learning ways to deal with my regression and staying "grown up." I think this will help me in many facets of my life. I want to reread the book and start practicing the exercises. At the very least, I'm becoming more aware of when I regress. One of the things the author recommends is that when anger comes, to ask yourself "How old am I feeling now" before reacting (sort of a version of 'counting to 10'). If the answer is anything except your chronological age, he believes you're in a regression, and its time to do something about it.


As I said, this fascinated me, and has given me another avenue to approach on my path to personal growth. I'm not where I want to be yet, not by a long shot, and I think I am still taking big steps forward every day.

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messenger - Its not a matter of her suffering from it. I think that everyone regresses. Its not a condition, per se, its just the human condition. I think figuring out how to deal with it and not let the regression control us is the challenge. For instance, I've discovered that I would snap at my ex-wife exactly the same way as my mom snaps at my dad. So, she would push certain buttons, and suddenly I'd be 6 years old again, seeing mom let out her bottled up anger, and I'd do that to her. And this to a woman who suffered verbal/emotional abuse at the hands (mouth?) of her father. So, my regression then would trigger a regression in her (I recall the author saying "regression loves company") and things would get ugly. Now, if I start to react that way, if I can see that I'm regressing, I can (hopefully) stop myself and choose an adult reaction instead.

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Taz - Lots of interesting reading. However, I don't think reading is enough. I think I have to put it into practice, too. Next up are 1) finishing "The Five Love Languages"; 2) reading a couple of books on BPD; and 3) Reading "Codependent No More." Its kind of nice to have free time to do it, although the way I got to the free time wasn't fun.

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I'm not sure if John Lee is an alcoholic, I know his dad was, and he mentions a lot about AA meetings, however I don't know if that's being there as an observer or an addict. However, I did not notice a religious slant in this book. He doesn't even really refer to God, although I recall him using "Higher Power" (a 12 step term) a bunch of times.

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Why do my posts keep appearing in the wrong slots? Lol! Anyways...Eyes, at least you are AWARE of these "issues" and I think once we are aware of what we are doing and why, that it will be easier to stop.


Yeah, awareness is good. I was actually aware of what I did both times I went into the regression. Now, with the employee, she kept making a joke I had made it clear I did not find amusing, and I did take a stern, parent tone with her, which I knew would hit a nerve, but I went into a regression, and that's how I react when I regress. I don't think I was quite the same with my business partner, but I was very critical/Master Talking, as opposed to being dialogical.


Did I mention how frustrated I get with this? lol.

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