One of the most common questions I hear from women wanting to relieve pelvic pain, is…. “But how exactly do I feel emotions?”
They suspect that their pain is connected to stress, emotions, or past trauma, but have no idea how to apply that knowledge in order to relieve pelvic pain.
So that’s what I want to dive into today. Specifics on HOW to feel emotions to relieve pelvic pain.
We have some funny ideas about emotions in this culture that can make feeling them kind of confusing. (Even though it’s actually a very simple process.) The most important thing to understand about emotions, in order to relieve pelvic pain, is that they are real physical energy in your body and because of that the way to “feel” them is as physical sensations in your body.
We tend to confuse thoughts about an emotion with the emotion itself. But, the energy of emotions is not in your mind, it’s in your body (usually your chest or belly), and that’s where you need to focus your attention in order to relieve pain – in your body.
Emotions are meant to be in motion. They are meant to flow.
All of the problems that come from emotions (chronic pain, depression, and anxiety) come from emotional energy being held, stuck or suppressed in the body.
An analogy I like for emotions is water. Water that flows is healthy. As long as this faucet is open, water flows freely through it, there are no problems – no build up of pressure. Problems arise when the faucet is partially or fully closed.
Feeling emotions in a healthy way is like opening a faucet. You want to allow emotional energy to flow in your body, because just like water, when it’s flowing there are no problems – no tension, depression, anxiety, or pain.
And luckily there is one very simple way to open your emotional faucet….
Put you conscious attention on the physical sensations of the emotion IN YOUR BODY, and breathe.
It’s actually incredibly simple, or at least it would be if it weren’t for your brain. Your brain very likely won’t want to keep it’s attention on emotional sensations in your body. In fact, your brain will distract you with just about anything it can think of to get you to take your attention OFF of emotional sensations in your body. Including, creating pain…but also thinking about everything you have to do, worrying that you’re doing it wrong, telling you you’ll always be in pain, or something completely overwhelming will happen if you don’t stop paying attention to your body, or even falling asleep!
So the real work of feeling emotions is continuing to bring your mind’s attention back to the emotional sensations in your body, and breathe.
Here’s what you DON’T have to do…
- You don’t have to understand where the emotion came from or WHY you’re having it.
- You don’t have to justify it or even know what emotion your feeling.
- And you don’t have to get rid of it.
Isn’t that a relief?
Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re feeling sad. The first thing to do is identify where you feel the sensations of sadness in your body?
You don’t have to explain what happened that made you sad. You don’t have to understand what event in your past was triggered in the present and made you sad. You don’t have to justify, analyze, or in any other way mentally process why you are sad.
Again, what a relief! All you have to do is simply bring your attention to the sensations of sadness in your body, and breathe (a gentle low belly breath).
Let’s say you determine that you have a heavy sensation in your chest. First acknowledge and welcome that sensation by thinking something like, “I notice a heavy sensation in my chest. Interesting.” Keep breathing. Then, describe the sensation as best as you can.
Here are some ways to do that…
- You can describe the size of it (It starts at my collar bone and goes to the bottom of my sternum, it’s 3 inches wide and 2 inches deep. Or, it’s the size of an orange.)
- You can describe how heavy or dense it is (It could be like a thin cloud or as dense as lead – or anywhere in between).
- You can notice if it has any movement, and if it’s moving, how is it moving? Is it vibrating, or swirling, or tingling, or pulsing?
Notice again that none of these has anything to do with “why” the heaviness is there. In fact, if you find yourself thinking anything that isn’t a description of a sensation in your body, you’ve slipped out of “feeling” your emotions and moved into mentally processing (or obsessing, figuring it out, etc. etc.)
This is the tricky part because your mind will naturally keep going back to thinking about the emotion – or the event that preceded it. That’s totally normal. Just keep gently bringing your attention back into your body to describe sensations. And remember to breathe.
Do this for as long as you want to, or until you start to notice the sensations subside and a feeling of peacefulness or relief come over you. Even just a couple minutes can be enough. If you feel uncomfortable, stop. Don’t push yourself to feel emotions for long periods of time at first. As with all mind body tools, it’s really important to go at your own pace – a pace that feels good to you.
So to bring in our faucet analogy again, to allow the water to flow (by describing sensations) you don’t have to know where the water came from, how long it’s been sitting behind the faucet, or why it’s there. All you have to do is open your faucet, a little at a time, and allow the water to start flowing again.
And you do that by simply breathing and naming the sensations.
It’s a physiological process, not a mental one. Like any new skill (playing an instrument, learning a sport or a new language), mastering feeling your emotions can take time.
So go slow, be patient and curious, and practice a little bit each day. Enjoy the process of discovering more about yourself and your amazing body. Before you know it you’ll be an expert at feeling emotions in ways that bring healing and relief!
Registration for my FREE class, “Say Goodbye to Pelvic Pain, 3 Mind Body Keys to Relieving Vulvodynia and Pelvic Pain” is open! If you’d like to learn more about a mind body approach to pain relief I can’t wait to share more with you!