Counselling in Wokingham – The Emotional Caldera

Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 –
This blog is intended to give you a flavour of how I work. You can find more information about me by clicking one of the links at the bottom right of this page

It’s great to have a partner who’s easy-going, isn’t it? They fit in with what everyone else wants, they are quite happy to “go with the flow”. Nothing ruffles them, they don’t get angry, they are always there when you need them. And if you’re the easy-going one, that’s nice too – you don’t have to make decisions or come up with ideas, and you’re no trouble to anyone.

But beware! We all have needs, we all have wishes. If you stop expressing them – or indeed even thinking about them – it can have a dangerous, cumulative effect. I think of it a bit like a set of scales, with a weight on one side but the other side empty. If you drop grains of sand, one at a time on to the empty side, you won’t notice anything for a long time, until suddenly, one day, one grain of sand too many will tilt the scales.

Sometimes people who are easy-going are, in reality, just very adept at suppressing their emotions, covering them up with a veneer of being laid back. But underneath, it’s like an emotional caldera; a mass of boiling emotions that could break through the surface at any time. Often, that manifests itself in an angry outburst that seems to come from nowhere. A little thing may spark it off, but it’s that one grain of sand too many on the wrong side of the scales.

The caldera doesn’t always come to the surface as anger. Sometimes it comes out as a sudden, impulsive decision – for instance to leave a relationship after many years, or to have an affair. I think this can also be linked to “mid life crisis” in many cases.

Why do people keep their emotions hidden in this way? I think often it is the habit of a lifetime, something that is learnt in childhood. If you came from a large family, or had siblings who were troublesome, or your parents were always busy for some reason, you may have been encouraged to be quiet and to look after yourself. You may have received praise and reward for fitting in, for being quiet, for keeping your thoughts and feelings to yourself. Understanding this can be a first step in changing this habit, though habits of a lifetime rarely get broken completely.

So if your partner is easy-going, encourage them to say what they want from time to time, and take their wishes seriously. Give them the opportunity to express their feelings, maybe in small ways, as they probably won’t find it easy. And if you’re the easy-going one, think about what you want, and ask for it, before that final grain of sand hits the scales, before the caldera erupts.

About Paul Cockayne

Counsellor, musician, iPhone developer, games-player, cheese-lover....
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