The Language of Emotions
“We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions; we also numb the positive emotions”
~ Brené Brown, author of “The Gifts of Imperfection”
Emotions and feelings can present a very challenging aspect of our lives. We experience intense emotions without understanding precisely why and consequently find it difficult to identify the solutions that will soothe our distressed minds and hearts.
Where would you be without your emotions? If emotions contain information about our state of being, our vibration – if they contain the key to our well-being, to our healthy, peaceful and fulfilled self – wouldn’t you want to learn this language? Wouldn’t you want to teach your children how to properly speak this language early on in life?
If you did not have a chance to watch the movie “Yesterday” – a movie released this year (2019) and directed by Danny Boyle, I would encourage you to see it. This movie is exploring a world where the Beatles songs were erased from collective memory due to a mysterious global blackout.
If you are a parent (or not) – I would also encourage you to watch with your children the movie “Inside Out” released in 2015, directed by Pete Docter and Ronnie del Carmen. This movie is exploring what would happen if we would only be able to feel certain emotions.
Let’s imagine for a moment an extreme scenario of our planet, our world with no emotions or feelings whatsoever. No ‘negative’ emotions, so no grief, no anger, no fear, no frustration, but also no ‘positive’ emotions of any kind – no joy, no happiness, no empathy, no kindness, no bliss and no love. With no ability to feel emotions in this imaginary scenario, our life would be a series of routines, ‘mechanical’ experiences from birth until death. Can you imagine living in this world?
Our society is not welcoming emotions. This is happening because we do not collectively understand yet what emotions are and what important purpose they serve for us as human beings, therefore society has made emotions a bad thing.
If children grow up and they are taught that certain emotions are not good, or in some cases they are told how they are supposed to feel in certain situations or they are stopped without the opportunity to process and release feelings in a healthy way – they will grow up dissociating from body sensations, rejecting, denying or disowning these emotions – their mind will create defense mechanisms that will prevent them from feeling pain, from feeling the ‘negative’ emotions.
So why is important to understand the language of emotions, their messages and how to release them in a healthy way in a safe environment?
Our emotional system, our emotions do not stop existing even if we choose to ignore them, supress them, numb them with various internal or external mechanisms that many times become addictions. Every emotion is still very present in each of us.
- If you feel frustrated that you cannot feel emotions you do not realize that the frustration itself is in fact a feeling that is occurring in your physical body somewhere, otherwise you would not know that you are frustrated. Your mind is preventing you to access this sensation in your body as a defense, as a preventive mechanism of feeling the frustration. So you conceptualize the idea of frustration, however you are not feeling it.
- If you feel anxious, stressed and worrying excessively – anxiety can be felt in your body as a pressure or constriction in the chest or throat, or as a strong pain in the stomach area, or as a panic or ‘racing’ sensation in the entire body. Each person can feel this emotion differently in their body.
- If you experienced loss of a loved one, thoughts of being alone, loss, despair are translated by the body as unbearable aches and pain in the heart – we even use the expression of a ‘broken heart’.
Our emotions don’t come out of nowhere—they are generated by our bodies based on two criteria: what we are experiencing in the moment, and information stored in our bodies and minds from past experiences. So whether we are feeling happiness or shame, that emotion comes from deep within, and for a reason.
Three things happen when we experience an emotion when describing a healthy way to process emotions:
- Our body generates the emotional vibration.
- We begin to feel the emotion and any new thoughts or physical sensations that come along with this emotion.
- We choose to let the emotion go or to process the emotion for a few seconds or several minutes, and once the processing is completed, we successfully moved on from the emotional experience and released it and it should not cause us any problems.
However, in reality, if either second or third step are interrupted due to the intensity of some emotions, or due to the place and time this emotion happen (for example if we are at work or in a public space) so if our processing is interrupted – the emotional experience remains incomplete and the energy of emotion becomes trapped in the physical body.
Trapped emotions often drive people to self-medicate or numb the pain in various ways and because they work for a limited time people will sometimes use multiple mechanisms of numbing – example – working long hours, being busy all the time, binge-watching tv or news or social media, excessive sleep, going out all the time – difficulty being home, food, gambling, alcohol, smoking, drugs, seeking thrill or adrenaline rush through risky sports or speed driving, shopping and so many other ways of numbing the pain – some being more accepted by society than others.
If you have tried and are unable to feel emotions, you may have experienced trauma relative to feeling emotions. For example, if something happened in your past that caused you to feel angry. If you were feeling shame or you have been punished in any way by a parent or caregiver or school – specifically for getting angry – the trauma or unresolved issue may be about feeling angry even more than the reason you have felt angry at the time. It may have caused you to supress, deny, reject or disown the entire emotion of anger. Some of the traumas felt by people growing up can have an effect of disowning /rejecting any emotions and feelings in general.
As witnessed in my practice with many clients, as well as in my own therapy – when a trapped emotion is released, it feels like a burden has been lifted. Some clients described experiencing a feeling of ‘lightness’ of ‘space’ being created within.
If you are still reading this blog, you may be wondering now if you have any trapped emotions yourself and what those emotions may be. Every single human being has an emotional past; everyone has had difficult experiences and traumas in life.
There are many examples of circumstances that may result in trapped emotions like:
- unmet needs
- neglect or abandonment
- feelings of inferiority or ‘not good enough’
- financial hardship,
- divorce or relationships issues
- loss of a loved one
- miscarriage or abortion
- negative self-talk and negative feelings about others
- home of work stress – especially long term stress
- physical illness of self or a loved one
- physical trauma
- physical, mental, verbal, or sexual abuse
- and many others recorded by our subconscious mind
Your subconscious mind is like an immense database or state of the art recording device of everything you have done in your entire life, of every face you have seen in a crowd, of every smell, every taste, every sensation, every virus, bacteria or illness that affected your body, all of your thoughts and feelings and emotions.
Your subconscious is also aware of any trapped emotions in your body as well as the effects of these emotions on your physical, emotional and mental well-being.
We used to think that the body and the mind are separate and distinct but recent science – neuroscience, epigenetics are stating that our entire body is intelligent not just our brain, that there is a form of communication at organ level and cellular level that needs to be understood further.
To resolve some of these trapped emotions can be approached with the support of a trained professional, in a safe, non-judgmental environment at the right time decided by the person seeking therapy – engaging specialized modalities that can access your subconscious.
An experienced therapist will not guide their client into a quest for trapped emotions or traumas for the sake of healing everything – that would be not only unprofessional but would pose the risk of re-traumatizing a person who may not be ready to look at certain emotions or hidden memories before integrating others.
Every person’s subconscious mind, their body intelligence will know which emotions are ready and safe to be brought to surface and released and when.
Some of the modalities I use with my clients are body-psychotherapy or body-mind therapy, focusing (a modality developed by Eugene Gendlin, Ph.D., inner child modalities, art therapy, energy medicine (i.e. Reiki).