Emotions are messengers of need. Our brain, body and nervous system are all brilliantly designed to communicate these messages with each other and with us. Unfortunately, our understanding of this communication has been lost to most of us for centuries. Until now.
Emotions are signals, stimulated by our brain, body and nervous system to help us and protect us. Emotions are our protectors and also our connectors, when shared in an authentic, vulnerable way. One way this plays out is with fear- fear of danger keeps us alert, careful, and therefore alive. Fear keeps us alive. Fear is our protector.
To understand how emotions are also connectors, think of someone in your life who is always angry, always stoic or always happy. How closely connected to them do you feel? How well do you feel you really know them, know their true self, their heart and soul? How safe do you feel with them? Also, think of someone you feel you have to hide all of your emotions from. How closely connected to them do you feel?
We do not consciously choose our emotions just as we do not consciously choose for our heart to beat. Emotions are physiological.
We cannot rid ourselves of the emotion that courses through our brain and body just as we cannot rid ourselves of the blood that runs through our veins.
We can numb emotion but numbing is all or nothing so if we numb scared and mad and sad we numb glad too. Numbing emotion is like taking Tylenol, it affects the communication between brain, body and nervous system, which is why you cannot pick and choose. Chronic numbing limits our capacity for joy, empathy, creativity, connection and safety.
So if getting rid of emotion is impossible and numbing numbs everything, and emotion has the power to protect and connect us, how do we unlearn our conditioning that says emotion is bad and wrong?
Well, we update our information sources. Then we learn how to-
Slow ourselves and our interactions down by pausing, breathing, and noticing our sensations and thoughts. Just notice them. Don’t judge them. Just notice them.
Then get curious- what is the message of this sensation, this discomfort, this emotion?
Then talk about it in an authentic way in a safe space. This might be the hardest step. Many of our relationships are not safe. We need people who will give us ample safe space to exist and feel. Many of us will have to find new relationships or transform our current relationships to make this possible.
We can turn the tides, slow the cycle, befriend our emotions or at least learn to accept them. We can connect with and process our emotions as they protect and connect us.
We can slowly build our tolerance for the discomfort that often accompanies emotion. We can learn to allow emotional energy to move through our body
Our emotions are messengers of need. Tune into the emotion, find the need, meet the need. This is how we relieve our suffering. This is how we help heal our world.
If this sounds overwhelming, confusing or impossible, I encourage you to schedule a few counselling sessions with Dr. Hill! Just a few sessions can teach you this new language, this new process, so you can continue it on your own with yourself and within your relationships. This can be a hard adjustment but it is absolutely worth it. The freedom, breath and peace that comes with processing emotion and meeting our needs is like living as a new species in a whole new world.
Stay tuned for next week when I will dive into what need is connected to each emotion!