What might we think of when we hear the word taboo. What is the very first thought that came to your mind when you just read this word? We may think of things like "incest", which is a universal taboo. infidelity, kinky sex, homosexuality, or another of a thousand possibilities. I started to think about the word "Taboo", after listening to a talk by the psychotherapist Ester Perel, who was talking in depth about the topic. There are cultural differences with regards to what is acceptable and what behaviors and even thoughts that are not acceptable. Within each culture what is not acceptable changes from time to time and even place to place. It was once frowned upon for women in our culture to show strength, or a desire to having a formal education. It was seen as disgraceful for women to show even their ankles or elbows in public. We all carry secrets within us that we don't want others to know Sometimes that which is taboo may also be extremely appealing, Even to think about that what is not allowed may be exciting to us. It might be a private fantasy, or even a vulnerability that we dare not share with anyone else, and yet it is a reality that remains there within us. Sometimes we may experience anxiety because the desire is hidden, "even from ourselves". There may be times that we just want to be transparent and tell the truth to a friend, family member, or someone else we love. Typically there are consequences for doing things that do not fall within the norm, and sometimes the consequences can be extremely severe. We may even suffer the consequence of our own self criticism for having the "taboo thought". Sometimes we pick the right person to talk with and we experience healing. The healing could be for the moment, or it could be for a lifetime. In this post I want to focus on anxiety, shame, and vulnerability as they relate to the topic of "taboo". Many simple things that we all experience may not carry much excitement, and yet they play an important part in our everyday life. Our cultural values are often related to strength, independence, courage, stability. efficiency, confidence, and beauty. How much do we value the expression of anxiety, shame, weakness. and vulnerability? Seems as if there may be a gap between our cultural ideals and the reality of our own human experience. I really like the book title, "The Politics of Experience", The book was written by the unorthodox psychiatrist Dr..Ronald Lang and published in 1967. What we feel or experience often is a reflection of what we should feel, and what we share with others is if often related to what we believe we should share, and not a true expression of what actually exists within us. Today in our society it is often seen as taboo to share our secret wishes, weakness, vulnerability, and our experiences of anxiety? Is it healthy for us to keep so much of our desire and emotionality hidden in dark places within us, not ever seeing the light of day. Are these hidden parts of ourselves keeping us from connecting authentically with others and generating violence? There can be both danger and relief in sharing ourselves with others. As I have mentioned before, men and women are different with regards to that which impacts their sense of shame. Women's vulnerability relates to their competence, physical appearance and beauty, men are expected to be strong, courageous and good providers. Through the years I have worked in many healing environments, Some people might call them, mental hospitals, clinics, and therapy rooms. In these environments (the good ones) people heal by sharing their experience without being judged by others. The two curative factors are the attention and presence of a compassionate human being, and the lack of judgment regarding the patient or client's experience. I am curious to know what the future will bring regarding our ability to show what goes on inside us more publicly. Will the social norms change? As science continues to map our human brain, and as we learn more about the detrimental impact of stress on our health and in our lives, will it one day become the norm to share our anxiety and vulnerability because of their functionality and survival value? Will our need to share and authentically connect with others become less Taboo?
Taboos, Anxiety, and Vulnerability
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