Benign Childhood Events Can Still Hold You Back

As I’ve been reflecting on my blockage to singing the last few days, a couple of memories emerged relating to it.

The first one was when I was around the 3rd grade.  There was some sort of soccer tryout at school and the teachers were going to divide the kids up into A, B and C groups, in the order of how good they were.  I remember thinking I wasn’t good enough to make the A team but I should get into the B team.  I was shocked to find out that I was put into the C team.  I felt shame and embarrassment because I recognized that they were right and I was wrong about how good I thought I was.

Unrelated to that is another time when I was even younger, and I was riding in the back of my car with my younger brother.  My brother is only 19 months younger than me and he fought harder than I did, so I was usually the one crying every time we fought.  Anyway, I don’t recall what we were doing but I hit him on his thigh with my fist, and he started crying.  I remember feeling shocked that a single blow hurt him so much.  I didn’t mean it and I felt sorry and guilty.

So those are two childhood events, perfectly normal and benign.  I learned in the first event that I could be wrong, I could be over-confident and cocky, while the second event taught me that if I act impulsively I may do something terrible.  But instead of those being simple lessons of life, they formed a straitjacket that clamps down on many areas of my life.  When I open my mouth to sing I fear that I am not good enough and fear that if I let go and sang freely (and impulsively) something terrible will happen.

Emotions are not logical things, you can’t rationalize how context is different or how the same rules don’t apply.  Kids think and talk in extremes because they haven’t developed rational ability to understand that what applies in one situation may not apply in another.  When you start seeing opportunities for pain you see them everywhere.  I realize I’m using a very strong word, but these are the kinds of traumas we all have that can shape our personalities and the rest of our lives.

Since these are emotional conditioning or imprinting, the way to reverse it is also through feeling.  They remain in our system in the form of conditioning because there are emotional charges still left inside us, still unfelt.  The easy test to see if there are stuck emotions is to recall the event and see if it brings up feelings.  It doesn’t matter whether the rational brain sees them as big or small events.  Saying that something shouldn’t be a significant event is no use.

For example, I mourned my father’s passing 10 years ago enough so that when I discuss or think about him I don’t feel strong sorrow most of the time.  I have accepted his death and have moved on.  But recalling that soccer incident above brings up a feeling of shame, I feel its pang in my chest.  It’s easier for me to talk about my father’s passing than to discuss how cocky I was to overestimate my ability.  Of course I recognize that my father’s passing is a more significant event in my life.  It simply means that I did the work of feeling all the emotions related to his dying, while I haven’t done the same regarding the seemingly insignificant event about grade school soccer team.

Fortunately, a way to get over these traumas is readily available to anyone, though it’s not necessarily easy.  You simply have to pay attention to the feelings.  It’s not necessary to name or describe them.  You just have to feel them.  Like a child who is finished throwing a tantrum, the feeling will abate after some time.  The more intensely you feel it, the sooner the tank will get depleted.  If there is a lot stored in there, it may not all come out in one sitting.  That’s OK, it’ll come up again and again, until you are finished feeling them.

I am not sharing these to portray how I was miserably scarred by tragic events and deserve your sympathy.  I recognize that if those otherwise mundane events were the extent of my traumas, then I am very fortunate.  So many people have lived through much, much worse.  But there is also a danger in belittling your own blockages.  Emotional backlogs are the main inhibitor of our lives.  If you notice that there are areas in your life where you feel blocked and repeating same negative patterns over and over, then it’s time to face these stuck feelings squarely.

I am sharing my story with the hope that it rings a bell about a thing or two in your life.  Processing our emotional backlogs is very important work and it has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of your life, though feeling those stuck emotions is temporarily uncomfortable.  I am working through my blockages by attempting to sing and then feeling the feelings of shame and fear that come up.  I am looking forward to one day being free of that baggage, to open my mouth and finally enjoy singing.

Because I do love to sing.