I often have conversations with people around feelings. Imagine that, a therapist talking about feelings… Consistent themes I hear sound much like this: “I shouldn’t feel like that” or “I shouldn’t have reacted like that” or “I don’t feel like it should be that big of a deal but I still get so upset.” The judgements of our own emotions and emotional responses can drag us down, further impacting our moods.
One of my favorite things to teach people is that emotions are organic and they provide us amazing amounts of information. They come up from the inner depths of ourselves and we cannot prevent them from being what they are. Think of emotions as information maps. We start receiving information from our bodies, maybe a pit in your stomach, a tightness in your chest, a racing heart or clenching jaw. Our brains and our bodies are so deeply connected that our bodies often times are the first to let us know that we are experiencing any type of emotion at all. When we respond in a physiological manner, we are most likely also feeling an emotion based on a thought or an experience. How great is that?
My guess is your next comment is something close to “I don’t want to be angry” or “being sad doesn’t feel good.” I agree, difficult emotions can be incredibly uncomfortable or even painful. We often have urges not to feel our difficult emotions at all or to move past them as quickly as possible. When this happens however, we are not fully processing the origin of the emotions, keeping them stuck somewhere in our brains and bodies, only to reappear at assuredly the most inconvenient time.
So what to do? Get to know what your body is telling you. How is my body feeling right now? What emotion is coming up for me? Why might I be feeling this way? Has a value of mine been compromised? Do I not feel heard? Have I been misunderstood? With all of this information we can now look to determine other ways in which to respond. So the next time you are noticing a shift in your body, or an emotional response comes rushing in, stop to take a breath, and thank yourself for being so helpful.
Written by Sonja Kromroy, MA, LPCC
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