Your emotions are your ally. They are your steering system, they are your compass, your wayfarer, they are your personal oracle.
Suppressing your emotions can be incredibly problematic.
Each of us is unique in our genetics, our life experience and temperament.
This is a result of 2 things. 1: Our genetic makeup and the cocktail of chemicals that we are hardwired to release in response to worldly stimuli. 2: The programs of experience that tell us how we react to certain things. For example we learn as children how to react if we fall over - we learn to cry if our parents show shock and sadness, or we learn to dust ourselves off if our parents are dismissive and angered by our sadness. This is an extreme example but it illustrates how emotions can dictate our response in the world. I brought my child up between Denmark and Australia and I was absolutely stunned by the 'brush-it-off', sometimes apathetic, blasé attitude that Danish parents had towards their children hurting themselves. 'Up again' they would shout across the playground. I learned to love it after a while though because it built a robust-ness, a type of resilience in the Danish children that I didn't see in the helicopter style parenting I was seeing in Sydney.
I realised my shocked gasps at my son falling were sometimes a bit much and, if I waited a while with a non-shocked face, to first see my son's reaction (who was in-turn waiting for my face to dictate what he should do!) he would often be fine.
But how do emotions work? Emotions are chemicals. They do different things. The happy ones are great at keeping us in love, 'in the zone' during a workout and unfortunately keeping us on social media or reading fascinating literature. Why? because we get a dopamine hit when we receive a like on our picture, or when we learn something fascinating and new.
The stress hormone cortisol often comes out when we are in fight or flight mode. The problematic thing is that as primitive hominids we would have used that cortisol dump in our system to activate our adrenalin and get our system pumping. This would have enabled us to run, jump and dodge our way out of a dangerous situation. But now, after we've been reprimanded by our boss, have an argument with a lover on the phone, or watch something distressing on the news, we just sit there. And all that adrenalin is running around our bodies and we aren't releasing the stress through movement. Instead, we often ruminate on our thoughts and sit with our distressed emotions not knowing what to do about them. We aren't able to fix these most of these things. Heart-break, workplace bullies and world politics are sad and sometimes we just can't do much about them. So we wake up to them the next day at work or on the news and so the cycle repeats, cortisol, stress, thoughts and more cortisol.
It's important to pay attention to your emotions because they are the truest thing you have to steer you in and out of life's waters. But the problem is that we can get addicted to certain emotional patterns. Our brains love to 'do'. What I mean by 'do' is to be active. To fix problems, to be on the lookout for the next issue. Why? Because as early humans, we had very real threats in the form of wild beasts, starvation and hunger. We needed to be on alert, planning, plotting and ensuring we all didn't die.
They can show up in heightened anxiety and PTSD because it is simply our subconscious mind saying, bad shit happened and I didn't see it coming - so watch out!!!! It can be extremely hard to relax, you can be triggered by the slightest thing. It's incredibly stressful. Your brain just isn't able to switch off because it felt it failed once and won't let it ever happen again.
The pattern of having these serious emotional patterns and not paying attention to the patterns, especially after unresolved traumatic events can be very toxic to people. High levels of cortisol in the body lead to all sorts of health problems. Everything from mental health issues, memory loss, weight gain, hair loss and heart disease have been linked to ongoing, high levels of stress.
Repressed emotions are also equally as problematic. As I work with clients who have weight issues, who 'eat' their emotions - this is becoming more and more evident. Repressed emotions might also find their way out in addictive or aggressive behaviours.
All emotions will find their way out eventually. Whether they make you sick, they erupt in fiery fits of rage, outbursts at your children, rivers of tears at inopportune moments.
Sir Henry Maudsley said: "Sorrows which find no vent in tears may soon make other organs weep." Many ancient medicine systems like Ayurveda and Chinese medicine would say exactly the same thing.
Put simply, unexpressed or repressed emotions are unhealthy. They manifest in stress related diseases and we make poor choices because we are unconnected to our intuition systems.
So what's the healthy way to deal with emotions then?
1. Firstly pay attention to your emotions.
It is really important for a number of reasons to pay attention to your emotions, because they will be your best guide through life.
How? By meditating daily. Your daily meditation will become a barometer to your soul. Just like a sail boat can feel strong wind and waves, through quieting your thoughts, you are able to sense your emotions at a deeper level.
Meditation is an emotional regulator. You will feel your feelings more by starting to meditate. It can be uncomfortable to begin with for some, but if you stick with it long enough, studies have shown that you are not only able to feel deeper, but to overcome and regulate your emotions quicker. This means that you feel them more intensely, but the big feelings dissipate more rapidly and you can return to a normal state more rapidly. It's like you're this talented surfer who can not only handle the huge waves of emotion with ease but you get over them quicker too and make a skilled recovery.
2. Let out those feelings
There are a number of ways to express yourself. The best way is to have a cry, if there's something distressing happening or being remembered or even experienced. Crying is simply the best, most efficient way to release and move through emotions.
Other ways can be to write in a journal or speak to a counsellor, therapist or friend/family. Others chose to create art, music or even dance. Just ensure that the emotions are being released. In the case of anger, yelling out your rage in a forest or punching a pillow (or punching bag) can be cathartic. If there is an unresolved issue with someone and it is safe to engage in dialogue with them, this can also be healthy. It is always healthy to speak your truth. I've mentioned it before but I highly recommend the process of non-violent communication.
If you've noticed that you're stuck in the same old emotions or emotional patterns and can't figure out how to get unstuck... or perhaps you have trauma and it's manifesting as anxiety, RTT is an amazing therapy that dips right into the subconscious. It allows us to locate the source of your stress, trauma, discomfort and release it.
If you're curious - check out the rest of my site at www.estateofbeing.co
If you are experiencing extreme depression, trauma or feel the need for support, please immediately get in touch with a doctor or one of the resources below. I am available for a chat between appointments if you email me, but if I'm out of hours, please ensure you get in touch with someone below.
Beyond Blue: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/
Australian number: 1300 22 4636
Australian number: 13 11 14