Staying busy. Drinking. Overeating. Perfectionism. There are so many ways that we avoid emotions.
Why are emotions so darn scary?
It’s not uncommon for emotional shaming to start at a young age. We’ve all heard the common phrases almost parroted by parents or other care-givers growing up. You know, the “Don’t cry or I’ll give you something to cry about” ones.
The constant striving for happiness and feeling good is rampant.
We’re all searching for the happy face button.
Emotional covers take over.
Emotional covers are things we do or mood states, like anxiety or depression, that cover deeper emotions. We may drink, shop, stay busy, have sex, or engage in a number of other maneuvers to not feel.
We learn to not feel and to avoid emotions as being normal.
So what’s the problem?
Not feeling emotions leads to a lot of problems over time. We may develop chronic pain or other physical problems. Depression or anxiety may set in. We may ruminate, worry, or obsesses about our growing to-do list.
Our emotional energy becomes stuck, leading to suffering.
At the root of much of our suffering are unfelt emotions.
As a previous emotional stuffer, awareness of emotions has been a guiding light when my mind and body feel pain.
Dropping into the body, or shifting down, and bringing awareness to the physical sensations in the body that may not be noticeable otherwise can guide us to emotions that are stuck.
Heat, swirling sensations in the chest, or heaviness in the belly are examples of sensations that may indicate emotion. Opening up to these sensations and allowing them to be there is the start to feeling emotions.
Awareness is all it takes. These emotions can come or go; getting rid of them isn’t always the task. It is the allowing of them and the recognition that they exist that is healing.
Remind yourself that you are safe in allowing yourself to feel emotions.
Begin asking yourself, “What am I feeling emotionally?” This question may be the most important question you ever ask yourself.
Jennifer Huggins, Psy.D is a licensed Clinical Psychologist in West Los Angeles, specializing in Trauma and Chronic Pain. In addition to these specializations, she helps her clients heal depression, anxiety, and reduce stress though the use of cutting-edge treatments and empowering them to thrive in their lives. Her passion is helping clients find hope when its been lost.
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