I find feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and emotions to be such interesting and mysterious facets of our shared human experience. Feelings and emotions are always communicating something to us-guiding us, directing us, giving us clues, feedback and insights as to our inner workings, and in relation to others, and the world around us. Highly Sensitive People and Empaths tend to feel feelings and emotions at an even deeper level and intensity, which brings its own uniqueness and/or challenges.
For numerous reasons, we each have varying degrees of acceptance and comfort with our feelings and emotions. This stems in large part from our early experiences- how the expression (or lack thereof) was modeled to us as children and in our early surroundings. My intention is to take a look at the ways in which our feelings and emotions get stifled, blocked or shut down, what happens when this happens, and how we can learn to cultivate a coherent and free-flowing relationship with this emotional part of us.
Difficulty in Processing our Feelings and Emotions
If we experienced early trauma, abuse, neglect, belittling, being shamed, unkindness etc. we then form beliefs about ourselves, our worth and worthiness; and about others and the world around us. For example, “I am not worthy of being treated kindly and respectfully”; “people are not safe/the world is not safe”; or my feelings and emotions are too much or inconvenient for others”, therefore it is not safe to express them. Then, we often judge ourselves for feeling a certain way that we deem or have deemed unacceptable to others, which adds layers of shame and guilt to the mix.
We can, and often do, internally respond by rejecting or disowning a part or parts of ourselves in the attempt to adapt to our surroundings; to be or become who we think we should be, should do, or should feel. In the case of codependency, we can become hyper- aware of making sure that “others” needs are met and placed before our own.
Additionally, we might not know what or how we feel, or why we might feel a certain way. Our feelings and emotions can become stifled or blocked; which is not natural as they are mechanisms that are designed to try and protect us. We might view feelings as weak- and try to hide them from others. This can leave us unable to accept, acknowledge, feel and process or recognize our true feelings and emotions/emotional state!
Our inner emotional terrain can become a VERY complicated and confusing place to navigate, which can (and does) impact us in large ways, some in which we might not even be aware. Blocked and unexpressed emotions can deeply and profoundly impact us and our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health. Emotional pain or struggle is a block or disruption in our body’s energy system and they are stored in our energy system, that is until we can move, express, acknowledge, heal and process them.
Connecting with, Processing and Expressing our Emotions
Many of us have or do deeply struggle in this area and can hold much shame for this very struggling! We may never have learnt how to have a healthy relationship with our inner world of feelings and emotions, yet we might feel that we should just know how! I feel that we need to be kind and gentle with ourselves as we navigate this new territory.
In 2011, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT, or “Tapping”) re- appeared in my own life. It is my feeling that it is an extremely powerful tool, or a guide, to process past or present painful, confusing, and difficult emotions/stuck energy and trauma. It can help us cut through confusion and cultivate clarity; to figure out what we are feeling or why we are/were feeling it; and help us to figure out things like what we might need to do (for us) and come to an acceptance- place with it. Due to the accumulation of many difficult and painful life experiences, I felt like I was no longer all by myself, in the vast desert wasteland of feelings and emotions; and it offered me/and still offers me a saving grace.
Unfortunately, it is not always safe to share our feelings and emotions with certain people, who might not have our best interest at heart. Being able to safely and honestly share and express our feelings and emotions- our intimate, inner world, with safe, kind, and compassionate people can be so important and healing. When we accept and are at peace with our feelings and emotions, magical things can happen. When we feel heard and understood, our ability to deeply and honestly connect and share with others (and the world) can become greatly enhanced. We can then learn to trust ourselves with our feelings and emotions and begin to no longer push them away or judge them.
Our feelings, emotions, and body sensations are our messengers, guides, a road map, even though it does not always seem that way. They hold so much wisdom and lead us to places that need attention, understanding, acknowledgement, care and healing. They also can and do alert us to certain people and situations that may not be good for us – that we need to stay clear of. It’s when we listen and honour them and ourselves, beautiful things can happen.
I have very deep compassion and understanding for those who have or have had to (through no fault of their own) develop a wary, mistrustful and fearful attitude towards their feelings and emotions. THIS, is the reason I have chosen to dedicate my life and time, through EFT and, personally, to honesty, truth, realness, openness etc.; also, to curiously welcome and to talk about feelings, our shared humanity, and internal struggles. When the shame, hiding and judgement around our feelings and emotions subsides, we can then be free, peaceful and safe to be as well as express who we are!
Learning to trust, honour, welcome, befriend, heal, acknowledge, accept, and be curious about our feelings and emotions is a choice, a courageous and brave one in my eyes- which takes time and patience, but it is so worth it! If we desire to feel whole and truly alive, this is part of our growth, as well as learning how to embrace being fully human!