"Moments of truth can be compelling when inner certainty and circumstance come together, when what you must do now is clear, and you find the courage or outrage that enables you to take the significant step. Until something happens that is 'the last straw,' the truth of the situation is warded off, minimized, denied, rationalized away, and the status quo is maintained. Emotional pain that would inform us often does not break through into consciousness because it is buried under something else: addictions to substances or activities, depression, pervasive unfocused or misfocused anxieties, chronic pain, or chronic medical conditions. When people arrive at a psychotherapist's office, a medical doctor's, or a twelve-step program, it is usually because a defense acknowledging painful truths has gotten out of hand. Common vernacular describes this as the result of having 'stuffed' feelings away only to have them resurface disguised as a psychological or medical symptom.
"We learn to 'stuff' our feelings because they are unwelcome. In childhood, if we were made to feel ashamed when we expressed our feelings or if they provoked others upon whom we were dependent to withdraw from or punish us, we learn to do this. At the very least, if no one was interested in what we felt, we may have never learned to discriminate, name, and express our feelings. We thus remain emotionally undeveloped, 'feeling illiterates,' unable to read our own emotional states or those of others. At the very worst, when terrifying rages or verbal, physical, or sexual abuse is unleashed upon children, by parents or caretakers upon whom they depend for survival, not only feelings but also often memories are buried through selective amnesia, dissociation, and even multiple personalities."