If you’ve explored mind body pain relief, you know that feeling emotions is an important part of relieving chronic pain and other mind body syndromes or TMS (tension myositis syndrome).
What I’ve seen helping women relieve vulvodynia, anxiety, and other types of pelvic pain is that our emotions are a huge key to not only relieving chronic pain, but feeling freedom, aliveness, and power in our bodies and our lives.
And at the same time, how to feel emotions is a topic that can create a lot of confusion! This post is an attempt to bring some clarity to that topic to help you feel your emotions in ways that will create safety, calm your nervous system, and help relieve pain.
The most important thing to understand about your emotions, in order to relieve pain and access their many other benefits, is that emotions are energy in your body, and that the way to “feel” them is as physical sensations in your body.
Not thoughts in your mind.
We have learned to confuse our emotional thoughts (ie. “I’m so angry about that” or “They shouldn’t do that!”), with the energy of the emotion itself (ie. heaviness, tingling, pressure).
But, the energy of emotions is not in your mind, it’s not in words…it’s in your body and sensations, 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.
E-motion = Energy in motion = heath, pain relief, radiance
All of the problems we experience from emotions, including chronic pain, fatigue, depression, and anxiety, come from suppressed or stuck emotion – emotional energy that is not in motion.
Emotions get stuck or suppressed when we…
- Spin in thoughts in our mind
- Hold or restrict our breathing
- Tense our muscles
All of these things restrict energy flow in your body. = Emotions are no longer in motion in your body.
Sometimes when emotions are restricted, you may feel numb. I often hear things from my clients like “I don’t feel anything”
Sometimes when emotions are restricted, you may feel overwhelming uncomfortable sensation. In these cases I here things like “It’s too much” or “I’m too emotional”
Both of these manifestations are signs or “symptoms” of stuck/ non-moving/ suppressed emotional energy.
An analogy I like to help understand how emotions work in the body is water. Water that’s flowing is healthy.
Imagine you have a faucet in your body. I usually imagine it somewhere in the low belly area but it can be anywhere. As long as this faucet is open, water (emotional energy) flows freely through it, there are no problems, no build up of pressure.
Problems arise when the faucet is closed. And we close the faucet by…
- Spinning in thoughts in our mind
- Holding or restricting our breathing
- Tensing our muscles
All of this is usually unconscious. These are the protective patterns we’ve developed around our emotional energy – for very good reasons. Most of us are conditioned or shamed out of allowing our emotional energy when we are pretty young.
Feeling emotions in a healthy way is about learning how to open your emotional faucet, so that you can restore your healthy emotional energy flow. Because just like water, when your emotions are flowing it’s nourishing, healing, cleansing, empowering, and energizing to your body. Imagine a waterfall, a stream, a river, or a healthy lake.
This is true of all emotions…sadness, anger, fear, and joy. It is the biggest lie out there that emotions like anger or fear are toxic or unhealthy to your body.
What actually is unhealthy is being stuck in angry and fearful thoughts, and the primary reason that is so harmful to your body is because it is the number one thing that blocks your healthy emotional energy flow.
Luckily, there is one very simple way to open your emotional faucet!
Put your conscious attention on the physical sensations of the emotion IN YOUR BODY, and breathe. That’s it! 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 and everything it can to get you to take your attention OFF of emotional sensations in your body. Including, creating pain…but also obsessing about your to do list, telling you you’re doing it wrong, analyzing what’s happening in your body, telling you something bad or overwhelming will happen if you feel what’s happening in your body, even falling asleep!
So the real work of opening your emotional faucet and restoring healthy emotional energy flow in your body is continuing to bring your mind’s attention back to the emotional sensations in your body, and breathe.
It’s like training a puppy.
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 you’re feeling.
- And you don’t have to get rid of it.
All you have to do to open your faucet, a little at a time, is simply breathe and name 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, and before you know it you’ll be an expert at feeling emotions in ways that bring healing and relief.