Out on a Limb
A Monthly Newsletter from Martha Clark Scala
Invest in bringing joy back to your life.
March 2009
 
Welcome to Out on a Limb, a monthly newsletter from Martha Clark Scala. This free e-zine is meant to invite and inspire you to maximize the joy in your life. To Subscribe, click here.

Suppression is Depression

If depression is a concrete roadblock to feeling more joy in your life, it’s as if suppression is the cement mixer that churns out the concrete. But the remedy is not simple. It’s not that easy to tell yourself to turn off that cement mixer within. Why do we suppress ourselves? Here’s a list of some reasons I’ve heard:

  • “I had to suppress my true self in order to survive.”
  • “I was told I had an anger problem and that I’d better get it under control, or else!”
  • “I got love and approval for being a good little girl/boy.”
  • “The less noise I made, the less chance of getting into trouble.”
  • “Nobody wants to be around me when I let all my emotions out.”
  • “I’ll get rejected if I don’t put a lid on it.”

No wonder it’s a challenge to be more authentic! In many situations, we’ve elected to suppress ourselves based on feedback we’ve gotten in one or two key relationships. It’s only natural that we would generalize this to make it an internal “rule” for how to feel safe in all of our relationships. How to unravel where the rules might still apply, and where they can be tossed out?

     

With Whom are you Most Comfortable?

Of all the people you’ve spent time with, both past and present, which ones do you consistently feel the most comfortable to be around? More than likely, these relationships require less suppression or vigilance. I hope it’s not a short list but don’t be surprised if it is. As you reflect on these more comfortable relationships, do you notice that fewer rules govern the flow of your interaction? How did that happen? Magic? Chemistry? Instant affinity? Gradual development of mutuality? There is no right or wrong answer. It may be fair to predict, however, that whatever led you to relationships that require minimal suppression will lead you there again!

 

Who Do You Avoid Like the Plague?

By contrast, who are you reluctant to spend time with? Who leaves you feeling spent, as if you just got tossed around in the washing machine for too many cycles? You may be fatigued for myriad reasons but I’ll bet that suppression is a primary culprit. It takes a LOT of energy to suppress yourself! It’s not that these people or your relationship with them is categorically bad, but it may have toxic elements. Most fish has mercury in it, but you don’t necessarily have to eliminate it from your diet. Fish contains good things, too …like Omega 3 fatty acids. Whether it’s fish or difficult relationships, you just have to monitor your exposure.

     

Discernment

Without a sophisticated level of discernment, you’ll find yourself at either end of the spectrum. Failure to note the distinctions between which relationships or situations feel comfortable and which ones don’t might lead to an overall strategy of suppression. Not only is that a bummer for you, as it may curb your potential for joy, but it may also be a bummer for those around you because they don’t get to see the real you. However, if you say to yourself, “enough of this suppression business, I’m just going to be my authentic self with everyone and in all situations,” this is a strategy that lacks discernment. It would be like deciding to eat any fish, no matter how high the mercury levels.

     

Joy-Gram for March 2009

1) Ask yourself what internal rules you wrote based on difficult feedback or interactions in a past relationship. And then ask yourself, do these rules need to be applied across-the-board, or can I discern where they are necessary and where they are not.?

2) Schedule a play-date (yes, play-dates are for grown-ups, too) with a suppression-free friend, family member or colleague. I guarantee it will replenish you. Pictured above: my favorite play-mate (and husband), Bill. Happy Birthday, Bill!

 

Caring.com

The website, www.Caring.com is dedicated to “Helping You Help Your Parents,” and it has a wealth of resources. At this website, I respond to questions posted by readers on the topics of grief and loss, substance abuse, and caregiver self-care. If you’d like to locate my responses easily, type “Martha Clark Scala” in the Find box at the Home page of this website.

 

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Disclaimer
By no means do I have joy “figured out.” Please do not assume that I do! I write Out On a Limb as much as a meditation for myself in the ongoing pursuit of joy, as for you. I think this pursuit is a lifelong journey and that the full experience of joy is, at best, episodic. May we all have more episodes!

 

Martha Clark Scala, MFT 721 Colorado Ave., Suite 201, Palo Alto, CA 94303
info@MCScala.com

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