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Episode 30: 
There is Nothing Irrational About Emotions


Marina Robb

Hosted by: Marina Robb

In this episode, Marina discusses: 

In Episode 30, I wanted to explore how we exile certain feelings to our unconscious, and how much we need them back, when we are ready, to be able to feel our grief and to avoid looking for relief in distractions, buying things, blaming others, so that we don’t abandon our own wild dreams and values.  

Humans are certainly very complex, and I am very interested in how our suppression of feelings is connected to the suppression of our wild ‘natural’ nature, which includes expression of emotions. 

  • Emotions are very rational responses! Why is expressing them so important?
  • What is neurobiology? How do minds connect our body and brain!
  • Introducing the work of Neuroscientist Jaak Panskseep – the 7 circuits within our body.
  • Meeting our outcasts and parts that we exile and how they operate within us!
  • How our ‘inner wildness’ holds the key to much treasure if we can befriend the deep feelings we have locked away.
  • The discovery of alarmed aloneness and some options I may have to welcome home some of our most hidden parts.
  • In our animal human nature, our sensuous bodies, fully embodied, are expressive, and curious – all reflecting this wilder, freer energy.
  • How do we reclaim our own needs and build the nurturing inner adult?
  • Giving the opportunity to master skills and build our own capacity and believe we will still be loved.
    How is your ‘goodness’ measured – does this help you live fulfilling wholesome lives?

Music by Geoff Robb: www.geoffrobb.com 

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(transcribed by AI so there maybe some small errors!)

Hello, and welcome to The Wild Minds Podcast for people interested in health, nature-based therapy and learning. We explore cutting edge approaches that help us improve our relationship with ourselves, others and the natural world. My name is Marina Robb, I'm an author, entrepreneur, for a school outdoor learning and nature-based trainer and consultant, and pioneer in developing green programs for the health service in the UK.

You're listening to Episode 30, there is nothing irrational about emotions. I really liked the name of this episode, which I've taken from Bill Plotkin. Wonderful book wild minds. In fact, the sentence ends with the quote, attempting to suppress or discount an emotion by calling it irrational reveals a lack of self-compassion. Give you a moment just to think about that.

Today, I wanted to explore how we exile certain feelings to our unconscious, and how much we need them back when we're ready to be able to feel our grief and to feel our pain. And to avoid looking for relief in distractions, buying things, blaming others, so that we don't abandon our own wild dreams and valleys. Humans are certainly very complex. And I'm really interested in how our suppression of feelings is connected to the suppression of our wild, natural selves, which of course includes the expression of emotions. All living things have needs basic social acceptance, safety, and physiological needs. I must have been pretty hungry as I recorded this before lunch. And as you'll see, my gratitude was all about food.

I'm gonna start with some gratitude about food. I absolutely love eating. And I love all kinds of food. And I'm so grateful to be able to afford food, choose different kinds of food. And because I'm talking so much about psychology and being well, I also know that I absolutely enjoy foods that can just soothe me and that better chocolate that can make me feel a lot better. So I'm grateful to food, and then also naming that sometimes I could use food to change my moods. And maybe that's not always a great thing.

But anyway, this episode, I've called there is nothing irrational about emotions and being a woman. We know that in in society, sometimes women are depicted as slightly hysterical and emotional and over reactive and perhaps too obvious with our emotions, whether we cry too easily, or show general emotions more readily than perhaps our other gender. Well, I want to really question this and I don't want to question is just as defining myself as a female, I want to question this just generally as humans, because is it really irrational to feel to feel and have access to a range of emotions, you know, whether their emotions that might be feeling hurt, angry, afraid, sad, guilty, jealous, ashamed? I definitely think we're in a world now where expression and naming of emotions is so important.

And of course, how does this link to wild and how does this link to mind and in the field of neurobiology, which is actually a scientific field where researchers are studying the nervous system and the brain function. So and finally, we're not just looking at the brain, we're also connecting the brain to the body. And there's so much research that is actually demonstrating that we have what could be called neuro circuits. So all our little neurons firing off together, circuits within our brains and of course, how that connects to our wider nervous system that runs throughout our whole body. And a particular a neuroscientist called yak Panksepp was a neuroscientist. And he discovered that as humans and mammals, we have primary emotion, emotional circuits, and they effectively, really are stimulated by different experiences, and actually can be stimulated within an actual research setting.

So for example, if I went into this setting, and a particular part of my brain was stimulated, I may feel really, really angry. And that would be seen as the rage system, the anger system. And likewise, if I was stimulated another area, I may feel a sense of pleasure and playfulness. Again, I might be stimulated and feel very fearful and anxious, I can also be stimulated and feel a real sense of sadness and loneliness and actual fear in relation to that loneliness being actually separated from someone. So we have these systems, he described seven circuits within our body that are really real, right, and I'm sitting here thinking about this link to wild and I know that in the society that I've grown up in, that the expression of these feelings is often not happening.

So we're not educated with this emotional literacy, being able to describe these emotions and then actually be able to locate them in the body as sensations. So what's happening to all of these feelings? If so many of us are unable to express and feel them? Does that mean they're not happening? Do they get suppressed repressed? Well, my feeling is that, from a young age, we are not encouraged to just feel and express we're often looking for those signals from adults to see whether they're acceptable. See whether it's actually okay that I'm feeling angry, and how, how do I express my anger, when I have an adult, that might also be very angry back at me, or might withdraw their love, if I express a strong emotion?

Well, actually, it's impossible as a young person to maintain and express these feelings unless they're being accepted unless they're allowed to, to occur alongside an adult that isn't trying to give us the message that they're not acceptable, that our feelings are not acceptable. And of course, this then brings us full circle back to how we can support those who are feeling certain emotions, how we can support them by being alongside them, rather than trying to change them or fix them or rescue them, for example. So wild being wild is being able to in that moment, express joy, express love, express this feeling of hope, being able to express deep, deep sadness of what's just happened, or losing someone you love or losing an opportunity that meant a lot to you to actually express that and share that and receive kindness and comfort.

And in that be alongside someone else that that you're not alone with that. It's so important to have that too slowly and surely, some would say kind of D frees ourselves to be able to come back and be able to feel it's okay to have those emotions. So a wildness in this sense is in a wildness is actually permission to express that but of course you can't express it if you don't feel it. And the truth is so many of these deeper feelings have been locked away. Some would say they they're described as the outcasts or parts of ourselves that have been exiled, that there's absolutely no way we're going to even bring them into our own consciousness. So they remain in the great unconscious. But of course, they're still there, and they're still having an effect, they still create these reactions when we're in relationships with each other.

And it's an interesting thing, isn't it? That actually, to find our way back to wholeness, actually, we have to start welcoming these parts of us back into our awareness and into our consciousness. And it's not easy to do this. So there's parts of our own inner wildness in our inner whole true selves, our whole emotional kind of range that we've shut away, and lock them up, because at some point in our stories, that was absolutely not acceptable. And when we did express, so even if we dare to express it, the risk was too high, we would lose that sense of safety, or that connection with other remember, we are as humans primed for this relationship, this social engagement system. And having spent the time last week talking to Sarah Paignton, it becomes really clear that we have these parts of ourselves.

Sarah described this word, alarmed, aloneness. And, for me, as I translate that into my own experience, it's really recognizing there are parts of myself that that have been exiled that are entirely alone. So what can I do about this, and how can I become more aware of this within myself that will actually support me to have more capacity as a practitioner, as well, or as a teacher or as a parent. And really, the one thing that we do have is we have the inner adult, if you like, the part of us that is nurturing, that can actually welcome back the parts of us that are hurt, sad, angry, jealous, guilty, can actually start to have a relationship with those parts of ourselves. So to kind of reclaim this natural, wild, expressive part of ourselves, and is not in any way about being able to just snap your fingers.

And there, you can do it immediately. But to slowly notice, and to give yourself, the time and the space, to attune to those feelings that you're having, and to have a kind of inner conversation with those feelings, to let them know that you, you're noticing them, that you are going to give them some attention, that you're not going to just ignore them. Because when they're ignored, they still have immense power. And remembering that we one of our primal needs, one of our primal needs is to belong, and to be socially accepted. And sometimes we give up a lot of these treasures that lie in the shadows, if you like, we give up, we tuck them away, and we give up. But in that we lose, we lose the vitality, and we lose the treasure and we lose the wisdom in those emotions.

And it's my view that if we're looking to heal, to become more whole, to be able, to be responsive and not reactive, to do the inner work so that we can actually start to look after ourselves, others in the natural world. We have to start reclaiming these parts of ourselves these parts that we've exiled and banished and feel ashamed of. We have to start doing that work because what happens when we don't is we start to project onto others rather than have this more compassionate and kind relationship to those parts. I really hope I'm making sense there for you guys out there. It's quite complicated this stuff but it does link to wildness and it does link to this idea of mind not just being this thing in the brain meaning the whole system of connecting the body with the brain and finding our relationship with these different parts of ourselves, as a child, we are in our bodies, we want to touch things smell, things move express ourselves, we could be said, it could be said that we are fully embodied in our kind of animal nature, remembering that we are mammals, we are animals, we respond in that way we, in our senses, we, we express our feelings, we're sensuous, and we are curious, and we want to play and explore, and all of you out there will remember kind of building castles and shelters, and experimenting, and, you know, we look for bugs, and we make up songs, and we dance.

And these are kind of all images of that wild, free energy that we have when we're young. And that slowly over time, can be repressed and suppressed. And even as we grow into teenagers, you know, we would naturally want to find our own style and experiment and listen to music and maybe take drugs. And this kind of quality is not a domesticated quality. It's the parts of ourselves that are not conforming, that haven't been taught yet, the cultural conventions and how to behave. So of course, we all know that we are constantly kind of trained into a particular way of being in a particular way of thinking, but within us is also this Wilder, Freer spaciousness that we have within ourselves to explore and discover.

There's lots of possibilities here. And there's lots of models to help us understand this more. But I wanted to just pull and reflect this time on this quality of conforming, because part of these podcasts, certainly in this season, have been around finding love, you know, the importance of love, but at the same time, the need to soothe ourselves and find our way back to loving ourselves and being kind to ourselves. And I think to do that, we have to understand a little bit more about how we are unkind to ourselves and how we reject and banish parts of ourselves. And how we often unconsciously do that to others and doing that to the children that we might have in our care. And this is not in any way ever about blaming, it's more about reclaiming and becoming more aware of our own needs, and how we can support our own needs. Because it's always going to be a risk to hope that somebody else is going to help us and notice us.

And whilst that's essential that we can reach out and ask for what we need. It's also important in order to do that, to build our kind of inner resources. And one of that is to have that nurturing inner adult that can speak to those parts of us that feel so rejected and so hidden. Remembering that as a child we loved to play and express and we can't always focus on all the challenging side, we need to remember that part of these natural systems within us these positive systems is about being caring and receiving care and doing that for ourselves and for others. And actually finding this kind of encouragement in the thews, e Azzam and getting feedback from others that we matter and what we that we're encouraged, and that we can master things and given the opportunity to master things, and just following our own curiosity.

And all these things are so important, and do link to this in a sense of being able to find and accept parts of ourselves. So what happens in the society that we're in is we, we want to conform, we want to fit in and we want to belong? And we don't believe that if we express these parts of ourselves, that we will be loved. Because after all, for good reasons, as children, we've already decided that those parts don't belong and they don't fit in. And of course, we think that if we express them, we're going to be further abandoned. And I think that links to what Sarah painting was talking about this alarmed, aloneness, that really is kind of we were orphaned were abandoned. We're on our own and I want to encourage you, as I'm doing for myself to welcome back these parts of ourselves because it feels like there is a key here, that as we do that, we can refine more of it like vitality, and have the energy to carve paths that feel more authentic, and actually lead us to fulfilling more of our, let's say, higher needs of love, integrity, authenticity, and finding meaning and feeling that we can participate in our lives and actually still find those in the human community that can support us.

And the truth is, how would you respond? Or how do you respond when a child is feeling angry, or really bad about themselves are super upset or scared? And as, as we do is kind of therapists we think, well? How would we do that? How would we respond to somebody else. And actually, we need to start doing that inside ourselves to respond to the parts of ourselves that haven't actually been given much daylight. And I think this is really important, because remember, that our whole society is geared to, to actually conform, and to make us seek rewards and security, money, comfort, and all these consumer products, perhaps professional prestige, you know, identity of what we do, and this power over others and get certain get grab exam grades, and that our goodness is measured on what we own, or how we look or how much control we have. But this is only satisfying up to a point. 

Yes, it helps us belong, and it helps us conform, but it doesn't help us to actually really live fulfilling and meaningful and rich and healthy lives. This secure attachment that we need, we need to feel attached to others. And it's really hard. As my supervisor would say, it's really hard to hug a prickly pear. So when I'm angry and defensive, I'm giving out these signals. And I'm not actually a feeling able at that point to be soft enough to say, actually, I'm feeling scared, or I really hurt. And I really need you to come near me. It's really hard to do that. It's really, really hard to do that. But the invitation is to walk closer to the pain of probably having not received what we needed when we needed it. And to now as adults find a way to speak and be kind to those parts of ourselves.

So this is part of the work. And this is the exciting thing is it's about also reclaiming, as I say this vitality in this in a natural wildness and about understanding the importance of relationships and linking our brains to our bodies. So it may feel that we're often talking objectively about nature, but actually, we're not as we rediscover a reclaim our inner nature. And with that we can find our way back to wholeness being that wholeness is really another word for healing, you know the wholeness, bringing these different aspects of us back into our awareness and living our lives from that place. Thank you. See you next week.

Thanks again for listening to this episode of The Wild mind podcast. It is true that we are all vulnerable to emotional harm, and learn to protect ourselves from further pain. But it is also true that we can be available for each other with compassion and kindness and find relationships to ourselves and others that provide a ripening of underdeveloped parts of ourselves and eventually find a way to greater wholeness. Join me next week for episode 31 when I'll be exploring education and unschooling with Claire Kuro and the impact of language on our survival brain. Claire brings to us her experience of unschooling and her keen interest in child development, progressive education and behavioral science

Thank you for listening to this episode of The Wild Minds Podcast. If you enjoyed it and want to help support this podcast, please subscribe, share and leave a rating and review wherever you get your podcasts. Your review will help others find the show.

To stay updated with The Wild Minds Podcast and get all the behind-the-scenes content. You can visit the www.theoutdoorteacher.com or follow me on Facebook at theoutdoorteacherUK and LinkedIn, Marina Robb.
The music was written and performed by Geoff Robb. See you next week. Same time, same place.