CONNECTING TO OUR EMOTIONS can be scary for many of us. We’ve been brought up to hide, suppress or even completely deny what our bodies and feelings are telling us. We often believe we will be overwhelmed if we ‘feel’ too much – so we take the very unhealthy option of shutdown, or escaping down the proverbial rabbit hole. Not a great idea…
Often when I ask clients how they ‘feel’, they really don’t know. And there have been times when I’ve run myself so ragged, I don’t know ‘how’ I feel either. Yet our body is our barometer of truth. It never lies. Whereas our minds can make up any old story to keep us shut down (ergo safe) and protected. But if we’re not open to feeling it makes it harder to actually give and receive. To feel connected. To engage. With ourselves and others. To hear what our subconcious is trying to tell us.
In repressed, stiff upper lip Britain, showing too much exuberance or emotion is still, incredibly, not the done thing. Witness the media vitriol poured on Kate Winslet for her breathy, emotional acceptance speeches recently and you’ll get the gist. For God’s sake don’t get too excited about anything. After you’ve had 10 pints or a bottle of Grey Goose, that’s fine though. Why do so many Brits need alcohol to let loose and express themselves?
But I digress… showing emotion and connecting to feelings can be tough, if you’ve been brought up in a family or a society that doesn’t encourage such behaviour. So what can you do to start feeling again and showing your emotions – in all their technicolour gloriousness?
1. Stop worrying about what other people will think if do you show your emotions. Men, God bless ‘em are still loathe to crack the mask in public. What a strain that must be – holding it all in. Fear, anxiety and sadness are part of what it means to be human. Not a Terminator. Come on guys, gals – and all you intellectuals out there. Cut loose!
2. Talking of intellect – get out of your head! Both men and women have been conditioned to believe that the head is the safest place to be. The seat of all wisdom. The one place that won’t let us down or make a fool of us. Wrong. Talking to a head is tedious, boring and without heart. Get back into your heart and speak from there. Start slowly. Feel your heart and take a risk, little by little. You’ll be amazed at the response. No more head-butting!
3. Releasing emotions is good – it acts as a safety valve and helps us to avoid meltdown. Unless you take part in regular sport, or spend Saturday afternoons shouting out your pent up stuff from the stands at a football match, chances are you are holding on to a great deal of emotion. Find a field and go and SCREAM! Or if you have a car, find a motorway on a quiet afternoon, wind down the window and SCREAM (but keep your head inside). It feels very very good, believe me!
4. Show emotion in your relationships. If your partner has pissed you off, tell them. If you’re happy with them, show it! They’re not mind readers. Check out your defence mechanisms and challenge them a little. Are they appropriate now, or is it younger aspects of yourselves that are still hurt that are running the show? If so, then I recommend seeing a therapist to help you access parts of yourself that have escaped down the rabbit hole.
5. Careful with opening up too much at work – at least to begin with. Feel what the company culture is like and make tiny steps into revealing yourself more.
As the very word itself suggests – emotion is e- motion.. it’s simply energy moving through us and needs to be expressed – safely!