A favorite question in therapist offices everywhere, no less frequently heard in my offices : “how does that make you feel?” I ask it not for no reason! Getting in touch with your feelings is an important step to creating your best life. Today’s blog post spends some time on emotions 101- a nod to a blog post past and today connected to the theme of mindfulness.
In simple terms emotions are signals between our bodies and our brains to communicate information. They are physiological sensations often in unique combinations that have important messages to us about a threat, a need or overall sense of wellness. The process can be clouded by emotions’ tendency to not always be “logical”- the brain is needed to “assess” if anything is “needed” in response to emotional signals once received. The problem is, as human beings, thinking organisms as we are, we spend too much time in our brains and not enough time in our bodies. We lose touch with our emotions. They may be trained out of us by society. They may be labeled “good” “bad” or “valuable” “nonvaluable” to our lives. We suppress, ignore, or avoid. None of this prevents the signals of emotions from being generated by our bodies. Just as we are thinking beings we are also emotional ones. The emotional signals are going to be sent. What does this mean if we are not “listening” to them?
Oftentimes in daily jargon or even in the therapy office we are cautioned not to “stuff” emotions or “bottle them up” or there can be negative consequences. This is not really a good explanation of what happens. When we stop paying attention to the emotional signals in our body what we are suppressing or ignoring is information. What we are really avoiding are uncomfortable sensations in our own bodies (aka- the actual emotion). The consequences of this are not an amorphous pressure chamber that will “explode” some day though it is a ticking time bomb of sorts. What we are doing by neglecting these signals of information is neglecting our needs. Imagine if you had a pet and each time this pet tried to communicate to you it was hungry, wanted to be pet, wanted to go for a walk and so on, you didn’t pay attention to it. Over time this pet would not be well. By not paying attention to our feelings we are essentially doing this same thing to ourselves. There are consequences like becoming more vulnerable to stressors in our daily lives because we are generally not taking care of ourselves as we could be.
By using mindfulness we can begin to train ourselves to bring our attention from our thoughts where we spend so much of our time, to check in with what is going on in our bodies. We begin to get to know what physical sensations go on in our bodies throughout the day and what they mean. Do you know what your feelings actually feel like? Would you recognize them before they reached crisis levels? There is a lot of data about yourself to learn if you start paying more attention. It requires patience directing and redirecting wandering attention that wants to live in thoughts. It requires persistence staying with potentially uncomfortable body sensations we are used to ignoring. It requires daily practices and stick-to-it-ness. But it can truly change your life.
And- as we have alluded to in posts past- being more in touch with yourself and your needs and improving your control over attention in general has positive impacts on your creative work as well. Curious how? Look back at creative block posts for “Get Unstuck with Mindfulness.”
Ready to start your mindfulness journey? Want to live your life with more purpose, acceptance and peace? I can help.
(C) 2019 Creatively, LLC
The information provided in this blog is from my own clinical experiences and training. It is intended to supplement your clinical care. Never make major life changes before consulting with your treatment team. If you are unsure of your safety or wellbeing, do not hesitate to get help immediately.