Emotions: The Cinderella of Wellness
Emotions are an essential part of the complex design of the Human Being. Yet, when we talk about holistic wellness, we say Mind-Body-Spirit, as if emotions are not important, or are just a side-kick of Mental Wellness.
But they are so much more. Emotions are our guidance system. They provide our life with color and add depth to our experiences. Emotions enable us to connect deeply with others, with our passions, and with our dreams.
We live in a culture that diminishes and trivializes our emotions, labeling them as weak or unnecessary…
“Suck it up Sally.”
“Big girls/boys don’t cry”
When we face a challenge, we are encouraged to cut our feelings off and go straight into problem-solving. This coping style creates disconnection, not only with our emotions but with our inner wisdom, our heart and soul.
Ultimately it creates disconnection from each other because it impairs our ability to share from vulnerability and tenderness. And we pay a huge price in terms of our mental, spiritual, and physical health.
When you cut off one of the 4 limbs of Holistic Health, ugly things can happen:
- pain from muscle tension
- G.I. distress
- host of autoimmune disorders
On the opposite end of the continuum are the folks who seem to get lost in their emotions. This can cause much suffering and even impairment in functioning. When you get lost in your emotions, there is also a tendency to react impulsively in ways that can be quite self-defeating and even destructive.
So how do we develop a healthy connection to our emotions?
- Accept your emotions as a natural and essential part of you. This shift in mindset can be powerful. Emotions are neither weak nor scary. They are a necessary ingredient of the Divine Design.
- Understand that your emotions are information: move toward this, move away from that. They are not truths, not facts. They are subjective and specific to you at this time; what excites me may bore you, what excites me today may bore me in a year.
- Emotions are like children. They want your attention, respect, and compassion. In return, they will give you information, guidance, and a richness to your experiences.
- Emotions express in your body (chest pain, butterflies in the stomach, a clenching jaw). They are not thoughts, though they can be triggered by thoughts and often automatically trigger a slew of negative thoughts (mind garbage best discarded).
- You can connect to your emotions through your attention (find the emotional energy in your body), your breath (breath into the emotion), and your compassion and tenderness on the exhale send out this kindness). Treat your feelings with the respect and tenderness you would a hurting loved one. Treat you emotions with mindfulness.
Although these concepts are easy to understand, they are often challenging to implement.
Our old stories (i.e. irrational core beliefs) and ingrained ways of coping stick to us lick barnacles on a boat. But with patience, practice, and compassion toward yourself and your growth process, it can be accomplished. Sometimes it requires reaching out for support (it did for me). Always it requires time, effort, and determination.
You are always worth the effort. Make friends with your emotions today.
Written by Diane Garrison, PhD
Lake Country Wellness and Counseling
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