This month, my group coaching community and I have been diving into emotions and it has already been a hell of a ride.
I've been able to hold space for others as emotions have come up for them, but I've also had so many opportunities to be a gentle observer of my own emotions.
Throughout this journey, I've gotten clarity on a few things:
I think it's important to understand that your relationship with emotions now was determined by your parents and upbringing.
If you have done a ton of work, processed your trauma, broken through the patterns of your family's history and have moved past this, you can skip reading this, but I'm not sure everyone has...
In most cases, we are operating from a place of unconscious behaviour and patterning, and may not "know any better".
As we grow up, we are exposed to emotions in ourselves and others. We experience all of the emotions, as part of the human experience as children, but then our perspective begins to shift.
Suddenly, we see how others express emotions. We begin to realize what feels safe, happy, healthy, or potentially harmful. We watch, then we can either replicate or turn away from the emotions.
Additionally, the people that raise us also tend to teach us what are appropriate ways to express our emotions. Unfortunately, if they were not taught how to appropriately express their emotions, the teachings they provide can be not-so-helpful.
To no fault of their own, our parents generally taught us how to dull down our emotions in order to "act appropriately".
To their defence, they were right to teach us that it's not helpful or appropriate to have a complete meltdown in the candy aisle of a Target.
On the other hand, it would be helpful to understand that we may get angry when we don't get our way and that we can express that in a constructive manor.
As mentioned before, they were likely not brought up with the tools to express their emotions in a constructive manor, so to expect that they would teach them to us is unlikely.
Now that you understand that your relationship with emotions comes from those who raised you, it is important to recognize this key truth:
You either adopted their emotional response or created an aversion to it.
To clarify, you may have read this far and thought "Well! No! My parent's were very angry and for that reason, I will never be angry like them!" and if that's the case, you're in the second category.
I've noticed it more with anger than any other emotion, but generally if we have a parent that expressed a lot of anger towards us growing up, we are more likely to recognize that emotion as being unsafe.
Just as you understand and decide what emotions you can show, you also decide which feel safe and unsafe.
I can paint a picture to make this easier to understand...
Imagine growing up, your grandmother was in charge of raising you. She was always sad, feeling as though her children abandoned her, and looking at the world from a victim mentality.
You may adopt her sadness, and find yourself carrying on in her shoes, or you may begin to recognize sadness as an unsafe emotion and avert.
You create a personal responsibility and a deep belief that sadness is not safe to come up and express in your body.
Maybe the thought process is that "you will never show her that you are sad because of how hard she worked to make you happy" or something along those lines, but suddenly the feeling of sadness isn't safe in your body.
When it comes up, which it enviably does, your psyche comes in to protect and will act out in other ways to ensure that you never have to feel sadness.
In this process, you put sadness in your shadow and likely develop an unhealthy balance with another emotion to overcompensate.
I started off all of this by mentioning that my group coaching community and I had been diving into emotions this month, so here's where that all ties in.
I have recognized for a few years that I have been averting anger from childhood. Anger has never felt safe in my body, because I lost that feeling of safety around it when I was a young girl.
I knew going into this month that I had the opportunity to really explore anger in my life but it's been harder than I imagined.
See, when you tuck away an emotion so deep in your shadow, your psyche does a wonderful job of protecting you from it. Your psyche wants you to feel safe and bringing in a whole bunch of anger (something that feels unsafe to me), is just not in the cards.
It has not been easy to begin to explore, but here are a few things I did to start:
Our bodies will give us little cues to let us know we are feeling an emotion. These are our primary emotions and they are part of our primal bodies.
We experience something that triggers us and a primary emotion comes up.
Anger in particular can come up physically in a few ways. You may notice your temperature increase, tingling sensations in the hands, tightness of the jaw and other muscles tensing.
For me, I would notice it in my face, jaw and mouth the most. My jaw would clench, my tongue would push to the roof of my mouth and my throat would feel tight.
All of these sensations can be very light and move through the body quickly so it's important to pay attention so that you don't miss them.
This one may be a bit woo-woo for some, but it's worked magic. I knew there was some deep, unprocessed emotions and what a better place to go than to my inner child?
My coach is an incredible psychic medium and channeller and in a session, I had asked about connecting to an energetic block I was feeling.
She tapped into it and was very clearly shown that a younger version of me was filled with anger, sadness and was feeling very scared.
In our session, she provided me with some tools to connect with my inner child and start to move the energy around the energetic block.
I am such a big, big advocate for ecstatic dance. It is an incredible practice that allows us to drop out of our heads, into our bodies, and move in whatever ways we need.
Although anger wasn't prevalent in my experience, I felt as though so much energy had been moved, which can create a clear space for other energy to come up.
It feels like I did a lot in the course of the past few weeks, but I swear it has all been so healing.
In the breath-work session, my intention was set on connecting with that inner child part of me. I wanted her to show me whatever she needed me to see and express whatever she needed to express.
Many tears were cried, my body was shaken and moved in all kinds of ways, and I finished with a beautiful little post-session glow.
As I look at my relationship to anger now, I know there is still so much work to be done.
Part of the work we are set out to do on this planet revolves around healing our past. We are healing the past of our own lives but also of those before us.
It's not easy, and this blog might have even triggered some emotion for you.
Know that every emotion you feel is valid, and that you are allowed to experience the full range of emotions as you please.