Counselling in Wokingham – Losing It

Paul Cockayne – 07791

Welcome to my counselling blog. You can find more information about me by clicking one of the links at the top of this page

Losing what? One’s train of thought? One’s temper? The plot?

When I think about people “losing it” I suppose I think first of people getting angry, and in particular, people getting irrationally angry; people whose reactions to events are quite out of proportion to what has happened. Road rage springs to mind as a common example.

losingit1Jealousy is another good example, I think. Fits of jealousy can lead to people losing it – I remember a client who cut up all her cheating partner’s clothes, and I remember (and still cringe at) the story of John and Lorena Bobbitt.

I think, too, about toddlers having tantrums because they can’t get their own way; throwing their toys out of the pram; breaking down in tears; drumming their feet on the floor.

losingit2In our day-to-day lives we experience emotions constantly, but usually at a low level. We have a filtering mechanism that keeps our emotions under control, so that in general, they do not gush out in an uncontrolled way. We may show happiness with a flicker of a smile, annoyance with a frown, shock with a raised eyebrow, but it will much rarer for us to jump for joy, fly into a rage, or scream with fright. In general, we check our emotions before letting them out. Some people do this a lot more than others of course. Some “wear their heart on their sleeve”. Others are “cold fish”.

When we “lose it” I think that what happens is that this filtering mechanism breaks down. The emotions are too strong for the filter, and they break through, like a river bursting its banks. Will lose the ability to reason; conventions of social behaviour are forgotten; we act in irrational ways.

losingit3This broad idea of “losing it” applies to various situations, I think. It’s broader than a child’s (or adult’s) tantrum. Anxiety attacks happen for the same reasons, I think. The emotion is too great for the filter. And so too for the addict. The need for the next fix is so burning that the addict will do anything to get it, and this applies not just to drug dependencies but to other forms of addiction such as gambling, pornography or the many other things that people can find themselves dependent upon.

The situations vary, the reactions vary, the emotions vary – jealousy; injustice; fear; loss, and many others. But what links these situations is that the feelings have gone very deep – they have hurt and I think that is because they have connected in some way with our childhood experience. The feelings we have now have touched on – subconsciously awakened – emotions we had as a child. It’s like a chain reaction and at the end of the chain we react in a childlike way, with anger, or tears, or panic, for example. We forget we are an adult. We lose it.

About Paul Cockayne

Counsellor, musician, iPhone developer, games-player, cheese-lover....
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2 Responses to Counselling in Wokingham – Losing It

  1. wortsenawl says:

    Nice article Paul.

    It’s odd, I don’t think of people who “wear the heart on their sleeve” as lacking in emotional contol, just more honest (not just with their feelings). In contrast, people who keep a very a tight leash on their emotion I tend to view as dishonest simply because you cannot trust what you see/hear from them. If their opinion/action is always tempered you never know their true feelings. (Note, I don’t mean dishonest in that they are simply lieing to me, rather telling me what they think I either want to know or what they think they should tell me).

    • Perhaps “heart on sleeve” was the wrong term – I was trying to describe the sort of person who lets all their emotions out and relies on others to help process them. Emotionally needy?

      It’s a continuum, I think. Mostly we cluster around the centre and “heart on sleeve” maybe describes those who are a bit to the emotional side of centre.

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