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We believe that emotional closure offers protection; in time it becomes automatic and transforms into a habit. But,
how effective is this protection? Catherine saw everyone as an enemy, and emotions frightened her; if she had been in lockdown times, she would have closed even more. She closed even at promising opportunities:
“… Because of her predisposition to avoid affection, she failed to take advantage of these new opportunities. In fact, it led her to isolate herself more and more. She rarely went outside and avoided meeting her neighbors, because she considered them to be intrusive; she felt protected only within the walls of her apartment. Finally, she managed to close herself completely inside her shell.
But, deep inside she felt empty and bored, experiencing only those emotions her closure allowed her to feel. She had protected herself by closing because, beneath the surface of these emotions, others were acting up even more dramatically – and she was very much afraid of them.
Catherine had taken care not to let her gentle, friendly nature emerge, adhering to the pattern her family had imposed upon her. Their criticism, always lurking within them, had made her insecure, which in turn led her to be wary of anyone who offered her any form of contact. She saw others as enemies; she viewed the world around her as threatening, and she felt the need to protect herself; defending herself had become a habit which she could no longer live without. Her defensive tension, even in muscular terms, had over time become permanent – it felt almost a necessity.
Nor did she resort to selective closure, limited to certain people or situations. Of course, her closure was less strict in those situations she did not perceive as dangerous, but Catherine consciously tried to continuously protect herself from everything which came at her. And this forced her to live in a constant state of alert.
Catherine’s is not a rare case. In such a competitive society as ours, many of us live this way.
Considering this situation, what options are available to us? We still have some left, but only within the wave in which we have become stuck; we are confined to a circumscribed space, in which we tend, as we have seen, to increase and automate our closure responses.
So, how do we get out of it?
A certain inner malaise – a continuous dissatisfaction – could be the alarm bell which warns us that something within us is seeking our attention. When that happens, instead of ignoring this message, and feeling increasingly unhappy, we could ask ourselves such questions as: “What am I missing?” or “What makes me so dissatisfied?”
The Potential Causes of Emotional Lockdown
Let’s look together at the causes of our emotional lockdown. Of course we will examine only some, the most common and the most frequent ones, because it would be impossible to treat them all in a single webpage.
Even in the inner world, as with COVID-19, emotional closure comes often from fear, but fear of what exactly? We must not think that we are afraid ONLY of tangible dangers. It would be a big mistake, that of underestimating or ignoring the emotional impact we often feel when we approach others.
So let’s examine some factors, which can cause emotional closure in our relationship with others:
- Fear of the emotions we feel when we get in touch with someone. The fear of not being able to control them;
- Fear of the other’s emotions, and of not being able to face them; fear of being upset by them;
- Fear of what others might think of us and our behavior or our choices. Sometimes we consider others as an enemy that threatens our emotional safety by judging, criticizing and blaming us, all feelings that make us feel wrong or guilty.