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Emotions Are Information

If you’ve ever had an unprovoked argument with someone, unexpectedly been overcome with road rage, or started sobbing for no particular reason, you understand that emotions show up seemingly out of nowhere.  When this happens, our go-to can usually be to ‘get over it’ and try to regulate back to ‘normal’ as quickly as possible.  We don’t often spend time looking at what that emotional experience is trying to help us understand.  When they show up this way, emotions serve as information.  Beneath that out-of-the-blue argument, what was on your mind, or what were you feeling before it started?  If you’re normally a calm driver, what else was happening in your life that brought you to a place of anger when someone cut you off?  When bouts of tears happened, was there something needing to be nurtured, or maybe something finally released?

By having a little more curiosity about what you’re experiencing in the moment, instead of racing to get back to ‘normal,’ you can develop a better understanding of what’s happening beneath the surface.  Emotions, as I shared a couple weeks ago, are energy related to experiences.  Sometimes we live in the emotion immediately, connecting it with what we’re experiencing in life.  Laughter and joy with friends around a campfire, tears and sadness with loss, disappointment and frustration when things don’t go as expected – these are more tangible, and we more readily associate our emotional response with what’s currently happening.  Sometimes, other emotions happen concurrently or imperceptibly, and we don’t necessarily recognize them.  These emotions will show up later, often unexpectedly, as they still need to be felt and processed.

In a therapeutic setting, the work is to purposefully access those emotions and process them from a wiser and (usually) more mature mindset.  In our youth, we may not be equipped to understand or process the emotions as they’re happening, or if they’re misunderstood or unrecognized.  Through our life experiences, though, we gain better understanding and broader capacity to work through emotions; heartbreak in our adult years is a different (albeit still painful) experience than heartbreak in our teens.  But emotions are indiscriminate and will come to the surface as we’re moving through everyday life.  When this happens, those emotions are trying to help you connect with or learn something so you can now recognize and process through it.  Give yourself space to pause and sit with what you’re feeling, whether associated with what’s currently happening, to honor the emotion, rather than run away from it.  That emotion is now asking to be validated.

One of my yoga teachers says ‘all feelings are welcome.’  I interpret this as giving permission for any emotion, whether desired or not at the time, to have its voice and share its message.  When you’re feeling angry, lean into that and explore what’s driving that for you.  Maybe something with a coworker or a family member, either at present or from a month ago (or 10 years ago) is unresolved and you’re feeling unappreciated or disrespected.  Something has triggered this feeling within you, which is the emotion knocking at your door, asking you to process it.  Equally, when you’re feeling deeply grateful or happy about something, lean into that too!  It could happen as you’re walking out of the grocery store, seemingly unrelated to what you’re doing, and yet, when you ask within what’s inspiring these euphoric feelings, perhaps you’re recalling a friend who supported you to follow your passion, or thinking of a time in your life that you felt safe and loved.  When emotions come up, unexpectedly or when you’re in the middle of an experience, acknowledging them puts you in the truth of how you’re feeling.  This brings you into presence and acceptance instead of avoidance.

Some emotions are more challenging to accept and process than others.  When in a heightened state of fear or anxiety, it’s natural for you to seek safety and familiarity.  These are not opportune moments to explore what the emotion is revealing for you, and taking care of yourself is the first priority.  It can be helpful to go through the process of reflection once you’re in a calmer state of being so that you can explore any triggers for these emotions and better support yourself in the future.   If you have strong or frequent emotional triggers and/or trauma in your life, I strongly recommend seeking the support of a professional to process these stored emotions.  From my personal experience, I will share that I noticed I had some very loud and very strong emotions begging to be processed and that since I’ve addressed them, the triggers have become less frequent or nonexistent.  There is always information being shared when an emotion speaks up, it’s up to you to decide if and what you want to do about it.

When you’re having an emotional moment, it’s not always about having an answer for why it’s happening.  Rather, holding space to pause and simply ask ‘what’s here for me?’ gives permission for you to be present in your experience.  When you can safely ‘feel the feels,’ you allow ALL emotions, whether current or past, to be felt, honored, and to share their wisdom.  Being truthful with our emotions gives us a platform to express what needs to be shared or felt and opens us for opportunity to heal.  Processing emotions in real-time, rather than waiting for them to show up later, builds greater overall wellbeing.  An emotion will always give you information beyond what you’re experiencing on the surface, and with compassion and curiosity, you might just unlock something that’s been hiding away, waiting to be heard.

By Jennifer Rizza, Founder of Newtown Wellness Collective, Wellness & Healthy Living Mentor & Coach, Reiki Master, Yoga Teacher

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