The Hidden Cost of What We Don’t Learn

Posted by Travis Slagle on September 07, 2022

TravisSlagleIt's been said that the cost of important lessons in life goes up each year. Like a form of inflation built into the human psyche, the lessons we don’t learn today have a tendency to come at a more painful cost in the future. As a therapist working with families across their lifespan, it seems each year brings bigger responsibilities that come with more serious consequences. Whether life is giving you a crash course on boundaries and self-care or a reminder that grief and letting go is deeply woven into our daily lives; circumstances beyond our control are constantly trying to teach us about the nature of healing and growth.

For many of us, emotional intelligence wasn’t a lesson we were taught as kids. We often learn about emotion through the unspoken rules, hidden traumas, and compensatory behaviors in our earliest relationships. The lessons that were too painful to learn in our childhood come at the cost of our suffering as adults and the suffering of our children. Children grow up to become parents only to find that there is still a wounded child inside them yearning to be understood, holding emotional secrets, and becoming further exiled from the lives they are living today. As Marianne Williamson once wrote, “The wound is not my fault, but the healing is my responsibility.” Whether the lessons from our childhood are too confusing or painful to learn, we avoid them at our own risk.

It’s often said that you can’t heal what you don’t feel. Learning to feel the fullness of your emotions is no easy task, especially for those who learned to survive by minimizing vulnerability and avoiding unwanted feelings. For many of us, there is a world of untapped emotion waiting to be revealed inside. Participating in an Evoke Intensive allows you to discover and heal the parts of yourself that you may not even know are wounded. Intensives provide a platform for transformative therapeutic work; to address the roots of how we learned to survive and the ways that old survival responses are hurting the people we love today. This kind of work can’t be done in a 50-minute session.

In family therapy, the concept of the “identified patient” is used to describe a person who is expressing the inner-conflicts of other members in the family system. Symptoms of mental illness are designed to get our attention; they bring covert dynamics into overt awareness allowing us to learn more reflexive (did you mean flexible?) ways to respond to life circumstances. Unfortunately, it’s easy for the anxiety we have about the symptoms to prevent us from understanding the lesson that the symptoms are trying to teach us. Rather than being curious, the crisis of the moment thwarts our ability for introspection and diminishes our capacity to learn about the nuances of what’s going on beneath the surface. Anxiety, avoidance, and dependency creates a vicious cycle that takes considerable time and patience to understand and break free.

Parenting is ripe with lessons that are learned the hard way. The combination of intergenerational trauma, the systemic transmission of anxiety and codependency, isolation, overstimulation, and adrenal fatigue are just a few of the many headwinds we face in our journey to navigate the deeper currents in our relationships. Lessons learned the hard way can come at a painful cost with wide reaching consequences that ask us to explore the barriers to our own self-awareness. The cost of turning a blind eye to our internal experience goes up each year. While we may be able to carry on by incurring an emotional debt, life has a mysterious way of forcing us to pay up.

While much of counseling and psychology may focus on symptom reduction, Attachment therapists understand the mistake that comes from chasing after symptoms. Intensives offer a path toward deeper insight, helping us to discover the emotional truth that is hiding behind the symptom, and to cultivate resilience and understanding for the lessons that the symptom is trying to teach.

It’s important to ask ourselves: how do we learn how to grieve, to understand boundaries, or to discover the meaning behind our emotional reactions? How do we recognize the cost of making our children and spouses responsible for our emotions? Where do we go to repair our relationship with ourselves? Intensives offer a refuge to find the answers that are buried within you. There is no better time to invest in yourself and start your own healing journey. Taking this courageous step today can change your life, and stop the hidden costs from incurring tomorrow.


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