Turning Toward Our Emotions
As with any aspect of life, when we don’t understand something it can feel intimidating and scary. The same goes for our inner selves and our emotions. Most people fear their emotions. Fear the intensity of them. Fear what they may do when they’re feeling them.
For most of us, the fear we feel toward “negative” emotions can be traced back to childhood. If the adults who raised us were scared of their own emotions, that’s what they modeled and that’s what we learned. If the adults around us didn’t have a deep understanding of their inner landscape, they weren’t able to guide us to get to know ourselves.
Therefore, for most of us, this work of getting acquainted with ourselves is work for adulthood. It is the work of adulthood to give ourselves the kind of love and attention we needed as a child. It's our responsibility to do the work of turning inward and learning to show up for ourselves.
Intentionally Creating Stillness
It’s common to avoid stillness, downtime, or turning our attention within, if we’re scared that certain emotions will arise while things are quiet. This is particularly true for those of us with unresolved trauma. Sometimes it’s this fear that keeps people who are otherwise interested in having a meditation practice, from actually sitting down and meditating.
Emotions will arise while meditating, and they’re often the ones that we chronically suppress and avoid. Ignoring our feelings doesn’t make them go away, it just forces them to come out sideways—usually in less desirable, less obvious forms of expression.
Pay Attention to the Body
We feel emotions through the body, so while you’re meditating pay special attention to body sensations. Tense shoulders? Clenched jaw? That might be fear, or maybe anger. Lump in the throat? Tears? Maybe sadness or grief. What thoughts and stories are accompanying the sensations? This offers clues to what the feeling is as well.
Name the sensations, name the thoughts, name the emotion. Get curious about what that particular emotion feels like for you. Get curious about what story-lines, memories, and thoughts trigger or simply coexist with the emotion. Remember there’s no good, no bad, no right, no wrong. Everything just is. And you are still breathing. Always breathing.
It Doesn’t Have to be Meditation
Practicing self-awareness doesn’t require a formal meditation practice, simple curiosity toward our internal experience is all it takes. Here are three easy mindfulness exercises to start incorporating into your day.
Pay attention to the messages from your body.
- Set the intention to notice your body sensations—is your heart beating faster suddenly? Is your chest tight? Is your jaw clenched?
- Then get curious about what precipitated that somatic response: what is happening in your environment? What is happening inside? What thoughts, if any, accompanied the physiological change? What emotions are you feeling?
- Start to notice patterns: “Whenever I feel sad, I notice the thought ‘nothing will ever get better’ goes through my mind, and my jaw is often clenched.”
Set an alarm for check-ins throughout the day.
- Set reminders on your phone to stop everything you are doing and check in with yourself for 1 minute.
- Sit with yourself for 1 minute to see what your internal landscape looks like. What is the primary body sensation you are aware of? What is the primary thought you are aware of? What is the primary emotion?
Journal about your internal experience
- Keep a journal about your thoughts and feelings throughout the day. Curiosity is what you are intentionally cultivating, so remember that every detail is important and potentially ripe with interesting information about who you are and how you experience the world.
Looking for an online therapist in Kansas?
Ready to turn your attention inward and understand yourself more deeply? My Lawrence, Kansas counseling practice specializes in providing therapy for codependency, therapy for anxiety, therapy for self-esteem, therapy for Highly Sensitive People, and grief and bereavement counseling. I help people overcome shame and the fear of being their true selves. Breaking the cycles of people-pleasing and self-abandonment is possible, and I'm here to help.
I offer online counseling throughout Kansas. Reach out today to schedule your free 15 minute phone consultation. I'd love to hear from you!
Other Services Offered by Maggie
In addition to providing online therapy anywhere in Kansas, I’m also a professional astrologer, and offer Birth Chart Readings anywhere in the United States, as well as abroad.
Astrology is a powerful tool for gaining self-awareness, finding meaning in and understanding of our difficult experiences, and for receiving validation regarding our own unique life path. All of which supports our mental health in a positive way!
Interested in getting a Natal Chart Reading? Book a free phone consultation and let’s get started!