In this blog, we will embark on a journey to own our emotions, feel them and learn to express them. But first, let’s take a minute to answer couple of questions.
Think about a time where you felt emotionally attacked. Did you space out, smile or disengage? Do you ever struggle with negative thoughts, judging others or yourself? Do you drown yourself with work, over eat, or over exercise? Do you struggle with obsessions, and/or addictions?
I do not only want you to notice some unhelpful coping patterns that block emotions. Rather we want to learn to own our emotions, respect them and trust them. Living a life of meaning, happiness and gratitude entails authenticity. This is only possible if we embrace our whole being; mind, body, and emotions. Why? Because emotions are our personal guidance towards what resonates with our unconscious needs and yearnings.
Sadly, children are often taught that some emotions are negative; hence not acceptable. They learn to tune their emotions down and disown them. Growing up within a dismissive attachment style, they internalize such concepts of suppression. What happens to this inner guidance then! It gets disconnected. We feel lost, unhappy and lacking compass.
As we were waiting to go into the dentist’s office, my father quietly told me that crying means weakness and as a good and smart girl I was not expected to cry at the dentist’s. Until many years later, I would never cry for the life of me. I would rather tell a joke, shut off, or get sarcastic in a sad situation. Understandably, our parents taught us what they learned from their own parents. Their programming impacted us and our children. Nonetheless, evidence based studies have recently proven that trying to avoid emotional intimacy with a child by dismissing their emotions would not toughen them up or enhance their resilience as expected by many parents. On the contrary, this would only program them to disconnect from their own emotions.
Is there a way out?
I often get this question from clients. Struggling with fear of losing control cuts us off our emotions. Yet there is a way out. Our mind and body store suppressed emotions. We tend to resort to negative coping patterns of thoughts and behaviour. In order to get a sense of your patterns, go back to your answers above.
To get in touch with your emotions and expedite your healing and resolution of entrapment, get in touch with your body, scan it regularly and observe any unpleasant sensations. In contrast to the abstraction of emotions, bodily sensations can be easily observed; temperature, pressure, discomfort, unease… Scan your mind for images, sounds, smells, colours and/or shapes. What do you notice? How does discomfort express itself in your body? Be curious to the triggers and realize that these sensations are your system’s expressions of suppressed emotions. Admit that part of you is consciously or unconsciously avoiding to feel. Face the things you are trying to resist! Then gradually develop a new intention of getting to know your emotions. Embrace them with compassion and acceptance!
Unwillingness to feel the negative emotions is understandable especially when we have been programmed to feel good all the time. Nonetheless, I am here to encourage you to give yourself permission to face this vulnerability; and not feel good all the time. You do not have to demonstrate that you have it all figured out simply because nobody actually does!
Ola is a Registered Clinical Counsellor offering a holistic approach to healthy relationships, life transformation and fulfillment.