January 19, 2011-Our Emotional Selves
We don’t usually think about our emotions, until they are in our faces but they are a part of us all the time. We also don’t think of our selves as having an emotional self but it’s helpful to think of our selves in this way rather than diminishing our selves by saying that we just have emotions or feel emotions or are over taken by our emotions. To view emotions as being outside of us or separate from us, diminishes our wholeness & gives us permission to ignore them, overlook them, minimize them or even hide them from our selves & others. To heal, we need to honor every part of our selves, even those parts that we are not used to thinking about or recognizing as valid & as real as our bodies. Our physical selves get the lion’s share of our attention, much to our detriment, because we are infinitely more than just a physical body.
Our emotions & emotional selves can be thought of as an early warning device that warns us of things that we normally wouldn’t perceive until it’s too late, much like smoke & carbon monoxide detectors. Another way to think of them, is as a barometer that monitors our environment, only in this case it’s usually our inner environment. Our emotional selves can almost be likened to instincts, arising many times without our thinking about anything or being aware of anything. A story that illustrates might be helpful.
When I was about 21, I had just moved into a place of my own. I was driving down the road towards my dad’s & grandfather’s office. I don’t now remember if I was going there or if I just happened to be heading in that direction. Anyway, I felt fine driving along listening to the radio. Quite suddenly & without any thought or forewarning, I burst into tears. I was crying so hard I could hardly breathe or see the road. I realized right away what I was crying about. I pulled the car over & ran sobbing into my dad’s office, probably scaring him half to death wondering who had died! What had triggered this? It was a verse, “don’t leave me again” from the song playing on the radio. A few days before, my step mom had broken the news to me that she & my dad were separating but I hadn’t had a chance to talk to my dad about it, yet. My dad & my own mom had divorced when I was a 5 year old. My dad moved out & my mom remarried & took me out of state to live. Unknown to me until that moment, I was terrified I was going to lose him again when he divorced my step-mom. What is interesting is that up until hearing this verse, I had no awareness of my fear. I remember feeling sad for them & for my siblings when my step-mom told me but that was all. I have heard others relate similar stories of emotions coming seemingly out of nowhere, many times with comments about how silly they were to feel that way or how embarrassed they felt.
We tend to assume that what happens in the past, stays in the past & should have no effect on us later but our emotional selves would beg to differ! As long as a trauma remains unhealed, it remains in us, forever affecting how we feel about our selves, others, life whether we are aware of them or not. Fortunately for me, I could remember the trauma & could cry about it & talk about it with my dad & process it in a way that was healing for us both. For many traumas & for many of us, this isn’t available. Maybe we don’t even remember the trauma or the others involved are no longer in our lives or are not open to helping us resolve our traumas. This is what drives many of us to the psychiatrist’s couch! Counseling is definitely helpful in many cases but sometimes, something more is required. That something more is what I call emotional work or forgiveness work. It exists in many different formulas & forms: Neuro Emotional Technique (NET), Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), Emotional Polarity Therapy (EPT), Emotional Attunement & many others. For the past 12 years, I have used Emotional Attunement which is a local, home-grown-in-Indiana technique although I have experienced NET, EPT & two other un-named techniques used by a Chiropractor in Maryland & a therapist in Hawaii. Forgiveness work is excellent at relieving emotional distress from any cause, past or present as well as resolving traumas, phobias, fears, blocks & about anything else I have thrown at it.
Another healing modality for the emotional self is exercise, believe it or not. Exercise helps us process our energy & our emotions relieving depression, anxiety, hyperactivity, poor self-image & sluggishness just to name a few benefits. It also helps bring us more fully present in our bodies & into the present moment which can help us better handle what comes our way.
Music can have a profound impact on your mood & could be considered a form of vibrational therapy. In 2005, I got seriously ill. For the next several years, as I recovered, I listened to Frank Sinatra CD’s every day, all day. I have acquired quite a collection. After I’d gotten sick, I found one given to my daughter that she’d thrown into the donate box. I’d never listened to him before, so I was curious. I popped it into the CD player & I was hooked. Why Frank Sinatra? Well, for one thing, I have no emotional associations with his music since I’d not listened to him growing up & for another, his singing feels happy to me. If you’ve ever been sick for a long time, you know how depressing that can be. Frank’s singing got me through it, day by day. For you, it might be polka, jazz, classical or classic rock but whatever you choose, make sure it makes you feel good, happy, joyful, light-hearted.
Dancing is great for the emotional self also, as it combines two of these therapies-music & exercise. As with the music, choose a dance form that you enjoy or would like to learn & have fun!
There’s my recommendations for healing your emotional self. What are your ideas? What has worked for you?