We first learnt to reject our experience when we were growing up. As children our feelings were often too overwhelming for our fledgling nervous system to handle, much less understand. So when an experience was too much, and the adults in our environment could not help us relate to it, we learnt to contract our mind and body, shutting ourselves down, like a circuit breaker. This was our way of preserving and protecting oursleves…….In time, these contractions form the nucleus of an overall style of avoidance and denial.
Thus our psychological distress is composed of at least three elements: the basic pain of feelings that seem overwhelming, the contracting of mind and body to avoid feeling this pain; and the stress of continually having to prop up and defend an identity based on this avoidance and denial.
John Welwood, Toward a Psychology of Awakening