Spotlight on Emotions and Your Health – Part II
When a challenging situation arises and we are faced with a high emotional response, our body is the vehicle through which this energy cycles. To not let the cycle complete – by resisting, cutting off, avoiding, denying, or numbing – we are actually locking the energy into our body.
Just like the waves of the ocean never stop, our emotions want to come, peak, and descend. This is their natural process, and allowing their natural process is required for our health and well-being.
Regulating the Regulation
However, when things are too intense, when we experience an emotion that is too threatening, the natural human tendency is to try and regulate it. We don’t let it just pass through with ease, but rather tend to stifle it, down-play it, or dissociate from it. This is not all, but a lot of what addiction is about: getting away from the emotions that are overwhelming the body because it’s so uncomfortable.
A part of recovery is increasing tolerance and regulating emotion, but often this is not enough. If someone has suffered a trauma (be it emotional or physical), the energy needs to be released from the body or it will simply continue to circulate throughout the nervous system. It can be so old that you don’t even know it’s there. It can be completely tucked away from the conscious mind.
Working With the Body
To get to the trapped emotion, to release it from the body, one has to work with the body. Remembering that you are on the same team as your body is incredibly helpful. Encourage your body to open up by letting go of any beliefs that try to tell you that you should be stronger, over this by now, or that it is a waste of time.
The most important pre-requisite to releasing stored emotion is to be kind with yourself. Be gentle. Nurturing. Allow yourself the gift of finally letting whatever you stored come up and out.
In the case of trauma, this can be guided by a professional who is certified in SE (Somatic Experiencing). It is a technique that allows the body and the nervous system to release what originally overwhelmed it. Many people who relapse have not had the information or guidance in how to heal the body of trauma, which leaves them living a sober life while their nervous system is on guard all the time. This is not optimal for sobriety.
The best way to keep your body in a state of flow is to allow yourself to have an authentic emotional reaction without cutting it off. This is not an invitation to behave however you want when you are angry, but rather to stop stifling your truth. It is an invitation to allow yourself to truly feel your feelings and to let them rise, peak, and descend. They will pass, if you allow them to run their course.
Stay the Course
I realize this is easier said than done, and I will be the first to admit that I imagine this will be a life-long journey. Being totally open and allowing our emotions to simply pass through us is quite the tall order.
The one-word mantra I encourage others (and myself) to utter is: “Allow.”
And so, to both you and me, I say allow yourself the gift of not stifling yourself. Be who you needed when the emotion overtook you. Be the caring individual who allows you your authentic feelings, no matter what. You, emotions, are welcome here, and body, thank you for allowing them to pass through.
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