The inhibition profile of a particular person can be quite nuanced. For example, in terms of attachment theory, a person raised by a “dismissing” parent could worry about asking too much of others, and someone with an “inconsistent” parent –alternately intrusive and rejecting – could feel ashamed or guilty about desires that differ from those of her partner. Or, as a generalization, boys are socialized not to show fear, girls not to show anger; since what people do not express tends to build up inside, I’ve counseled relationships in which the man is anxious about the woman, and she’s irritated with him. I’ve also worked with people who:
- Can express “armored” emotions like anger but not more vulnerable ones like hurt or sadness.
- Cannot say “no,” so their “yes” doesn’t mean much.
- Think they are not allowed to say what they really want.
- Feel tongue-tied around authority figures.
- Get really upset with themselves at the least anger toward their spouse.
- Feel that acknowledging problems with a spiritual teacher would be disloyal.
These are completely normal inhibitions. For example, I sweated for about half an hour before I finally told a girl – for the first time in my life – that I loved her.
What about you? What’s your own history, related to self-expression? What do you find easy to say – or hard?
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