Emotions and You — Emotions Are Felt in Your Body: Find Them!
It turns out many people believe it is possible to get rid of emotions.
It is not! There is evidence we experience emotions while still in the womb. They stay with us for our entire life. Emotions come with our body. We feel them in our body. Our body never forgets the emotions it has experienced. At times, our body reacts to emotions even without our awareness. When our body reacts, repeatedly, the same way over time, our emotional reaction begins to show in our face and posture. We can easily identify someone who is “angry” or “sad,” for example. The slump of someone’s shoulders shows us how defeated they feel.
I’m sure that what I have said here, so far, is not new for you. My question is, however, how much attention do you pay to the effects of emotions in your body?
Though the connection between health and emotions has been recognized since the days of Ancient Greece, we still do not fully acknowledge that emotions can create (or allow room for the creation of) illness. My research shows that almost every human ill is connected to emotions, particularly auto-immune illnesses.
I have learned to warn people that under the right conditions, anger can kill us.
The system for emotions is so deftly contrived that we actually believe we can ignore them, push them down inside of us, and refuse to allow them expression—and we won’t be negatively impacted; we’ll still be okay! Only after many years of holding anger inside, do we develop tumors or heart problems. Often that’s the time, unfortunately, that we have taken notice!
Since human beings are motivated to change by experiencing pain, the current system followed by emotions often doesn’t motivate us to feel and work with them soon enough. All too frequently, we are ill and in great pain before we start paying attention. Even then, we frequently don’t connect our experience to emotions. This definitely needs to change.
Especially regarding anger (which is our most active emotion), holding it inside of us is lethal. One quote I love says that Anger poisons the vessel in which it is held. That’s us, you and me. Held-onto anger poisons our physical system, and over time, leads us to illness and even death.
Hence my message to you today: Emotions Are Felt In Your Body: Find Them!
We know where to look, but often we don’t take the time, don’t want to appear weak or “overly sensitive,” or believe that emotions don’t belong in our environment (such as our workplace). So, we don’t look.
It’s vital that we seek out the emotions that arise in us, feel them, use them for the purpose for which they are designed, and then let them go.
Finding emotions is easy for most of us.
The principle is What we pay attention to, we tend to become. This means that all we need to do is pay attention to emotions we feel in different places in our body, recognize them, and spend some time allowing ourselves to express them (often best done when we are alone, so we don’t inhibit our expression).
If, however, you have held emotions down for a period of time, it may be more difficult to find them. If this is true for you, or you believe you “don’t feel them,” a simple way to develop your relationship with the emotions that arise in you is to stop, every one to two hours, and ask out loud: “What am I feeling right now?” Those of us who have held onto emotions tend to live life primarily through our brain, so your answer may sound like this: “I feel that I’m having a hard time.” This is not an emotion or feeling. This is a thought. When we speak out the emotions, we sound like this: “I feel angry.” “I feel hurt.” “I’m afraid.” “I’m anxious or stressed.”
It may take some time for you to find and feel the emotions your body is registering. As you ask this question, keep in mind that anything you notice works. You may at first note that you feel “numb,” and cannot identify emotions in your body. This is okay. Just keep asking. Whatever comes up, speak it out loud. As you continue to pay attention to emotions, they will start appearing and you’ll be increasingly aware of them!
The first thing we need to do is find and identify emotions as they become noticeable in our body. If we don’t do this already, we can develop our ability to locate them. In my next post, I’ll talk with you about what is best to do with them, later talking with you about how to relate to those emotions, and to whom they belong. (If you want a fuller discussion, please look for my forthcoming book, Emotions in Motion: Mastering Life’s Built-in Navigation System. More information can be found on my website)
Almost all humans have a compromised relationship with emotions.
We’re waking up now. To move forward and progress, we need to understand, partner with, feel and learn from the emotions that come through us. We are all being invited to do this, so come along!
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series on April 4th where we\’ll discuss what to do with emotions now that we\’ve found them!
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Ilene Dillon, MSW, has dedicated her life to helping people resolve personal challenges once and for all, then design life to be what they want it to be. A Transformation Specialist, she has worked 50 years as a psychotherapist and 15 years as a coach. She is a global speaker, Amazon International Best-selling author (The Wellness Universe Guide to Complete Self-Care, Volumes 1 and 2), podcast guest, and plans to give her first TEDx speech (on Anger) later this year. Ilene is also the author of Emotions in Motion: Mastering Life’s Built-in Navigation System and End Manipulation: Stop Being Jerked Around by Toxic, Energy-draining People. With her little dog, Pi, Ilene lives and travels full-time throughout North America in her RV, writing, teaching, and speaking along the way.