Working With Your Emotional Body to Help Heal Your Physical Body
Have you ever felt like you truly have tried everything to heal your body or lose weight and nothing seems to be working? You have tried all the diets. You have done all the exercise routines. You have meditated. Changed your sleep pattern. Taken every supplement. Cut out coffee. Cut alcohol. Changed your entire LIFE!!! And yet you feel like….You…Just….Aren’t…Getting…ANYWHERE…..Maybe you feel like you haven’t healed at all. Maybe you feel like you haven’t lost any of the weight you wanted. Maybe you even feel more lethargic, bloated and stuck than you did before….
Your not alone!
So many of the clients that I have worked with come to me feeling defeated and like nothing they have tried has worked. And they feel as if they have truly tried everything! But there is one big piece of the puzzle that they are missing….The emotional piece.
In our society it is very rare that the emotional piece is connected to anything someone is trying to heal from other than mental illness and maybe obvious trauma. But the truth is our emotional body has more to do with what’s going on in any state of wellness than we give it credit for. Some times the emotional body is simply forgotten about, and sometimes it is just that we have built up so many walls and “coping mechanisms” that we can only scratch the surface. But regardless of the reason, this is usually the missing piece that propels the healing journey forward.
So how does this happen?
Well its simple but its also complicated.
I’m sure you have heard over and over that emotions are energy. They carry weight. They carry electricity. Their energy in its purest form. So what happens when energy becomes stuck in one area….It creates a block! This block if not worked through or processed then creates more and more build up. More and more blockage. If gone ignored for too long it spills out into other areas to get your attention. Think of it like a rain barrel sitting and collecting rain, if you never deal with it eventually it over flows and spills out.
Your physical health. Your mental health. These areas begin to develop smaller symptoms and signs trying to gain our attention. Smaller disturbances in energy, periodical breakouts, minor digestive disturbances, bloating, headaches, feeling jittery, increased/decreased appetite, weight gain, and mood swings are some of the most common ways the body starts to TRY to gain our attention. Calling for us to take a deeper look. And if we ignore these smaller signs and symptoms in our physical and mental health they continue to get bigger and bigger until there is no longer any way we can possibly not pay attention to them. This is when bigger disease and illness sets in like; obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmune illness to name a few….
Why we might be avoiding this emotional aspect?
Here is the thing… Our emotions want us to process them. It is our brain that gets in the way. Our brain that tells us we don’t have the time. The energy. That emotions just get in the way of life. That emotions don’t play a big role in our physical well being. Or maybe there is a fear over what we will feel when we open up. So we just keep on keeping on. Letting things pile up until something bigger happens.
But all of these reasons are just walls our brain puts up for us…keeping us out. It thinks it is protecting us but so often it is actually causing us to be in more more prolonged pain. Becasue here is the thing about “negative” or “painful” emotions….When you truly work with them. Dive into them. Feel them. They release. They dissolve. They let go. They move. Then you heal. You do not get stuck in them, so this is something you that you DO NOT need to fear.
As one of my favourite coaches asks “Do you ever fear being stuck in happiness? Then why would you be scared to be stuck feeling unhappy?”…So often when I work with clients around emotions they have said to me that they fear being stuck in a negative emotional state if they dive into that emotion. That they will never actually move past that feeling. But emotions are meant to be felt, because once they are felt they move. It is only when we don’t allow them to move that we get stuck in them. That they linger.
So how do you start working with the emotions to help propel your healing?
It really depends how deep you need to go. MOST of the time I recommend working with a health professional that is aware, trained, and willing to work with/acknowledge the emotional body as well as address physical concerns, but on rare occasions you can do the work yourself.
Working with someone that is trained/comfortable is almost always necessary in the beginning though, as it can really help you to break down some of the barriers that your mind/brain may have put up as a “protective” measure. In the beginning stages of working with the emotional body it can often be really had for us to break down these walls on our own, or even to acknowledge that they are even there, as we have been living and coping with them for years and sometimes even decades. Having a therapist, counsellor and even life coach can all be very helpful if you already have a medical/natural doctor, personal trainer, or other health profession you love but maybe isn’t trained/comfortable dealing with the emotional aspect of your health. In fact the more support you have in the beginning the more successful you will often be in the future.
But how can you start on your own?
Although I do recommend working with a professional in the beginning I do acknowledge that sometimes this can be hard for a multitude of different reasons including but limited to finance, timing, comfort level, etc. So what can you do on your own, right now, to help propel your emotional healing journey till you can begin to work with someone?
Learn to identify emotions. Often we are so detached from our emotions and emotional body we don’t know how to truly identify all our emotions. We know the basic ones…sad, mad, happy. BUT then anything beyond that is a bit of a mystery to us. When first starting to work through emotions that may be holding back your healing it is important to be able to actually identify and give name to ALL of the emotions you are feeling. If your emotional language is limited in the beginning, I know mine sure in the heck was, try using this tip! When you start to feel an emotion come up picture the iconic emotion sheets with all the different facial expressions that we often use with children in the early years of school and use it as a guide to identify and name what emotion it is that you are feeling. If you do not know, or simply cannot picture, click here for one that I have used with clients in the past.
Daily mindfulness exercises. I am sure you have heard a million, trillion times how great mindfulness exercises like deep breathing, meditation, and such can be. BUT when you are working with the emotional body and learning how to work through emotions that might be in the way of your healing journey mindfulness can truly be a very very valuable skill. The more often you are mindful the easier it becomes to tune into your body and where it might be feeling certain emotions, traumas, or stresses that you might not other wise be aware of. When we are practicing mindfulness daily it also gives us the time and space to be able to just be with ourselves and do a little check in, which might other wise be put on the back burn for another time, another day, or another week. I recommend doing some sort of mindfulness exercise for a no less than 15 minutes a day. If mediation is not your jam (or maybe you just aren’t quite there yet) try one of the following; deep breathing, nature walks (on your own with no music/earphones), epsom salt baths (on your own, no book/earphones/music), slow yoga movements, or guided mediations.
Learn to mind dump. Mind dumping can be such a useful tool to use during any time where you are experiencing either an intense emotion or just can not fully identify the emotion that you are feeling. Most commonly mind dumping is done as a journal exercise in which you literally just put pen to paper and write down every and all thoughts/emotions without judgement. BUT if journaling is not your thing you can also do this verbally. If you are choosing to do this verbally I recommend doing it on OUR OWN so you do not need to worry about what you are saying sounding weird to someone else. The point of the exercise is to just get it out there so after you can go back and work your way through what you said and hopefully be guided to what emotion it was coming from; if you are worrying about being judged by someone it will not give you the results that are necessary.
Create a safe space. Often we have put our emotions on the back burn because there is some sort of fear around them. This fear can come from either fear of the emotion its self, fear that others will judge us for it, fear that we will be stuck in the emotion for long periods of time, and so many other reasons. In order to start working with your emotions it is best if you create some sort of safe space you can go when that fear over feeling the emotions comes up. This could be a place in your house that you feel safe and like it is yours, it could be outside, or it could be a journal that is only seen by you that you carry around. If you live with your partner or a roommate you might also want to also discuss with them a signal or sign of when you are needing to use your safe space, DO NOT just relay on them knowing this because this often does not work for a number of reasons. I personally have a code word with my partner when I am needing to use my safe space to just feel all the feels I am trying to work through/identify. Even though I trust him completely and we have been together for over 7 years, and have known each other longer, there are emotions that I know I need to just work with on my own to be fully express and work through.
Give your emotions voice. Learning how to actually put words to what you are feeling is a VERY important step that most people often skip. Yes it is important to be able to identify them, and feel into them, BUT if you skip actually giving them some sort of voice you are skipping the final step that allows them to move out of the body. Giving voice to your emotions can be anything from writing it down using the emotional language/identification, to saying your angry and screaming into a pillow. Whatever method that you do choose it is important to try not to justify why you feeling the way that you feel afterwards. Just feel what you feel, express it, and let go of it. When we try to explain and attach reason we often start dwelling on the emotion and the thoughts around it which can lead to judgement and feelings of guilt. In this step you can ask someone close to you to listen to how you feel, BUT if you do do this also ask them not to give advice and to listen without judgement. I have a few loved ones I can trust with this and so will lean on them for this step sometimes BUT most of the time I like to talk to my cat (yes I am TOTALLY one of those) OR put my pen to paper!
Disclaimer note: These methods work for most people but not all. If you are depressed or suffer from anxiety or a mental illness I recommend working with a professional (such as myself, a therapist, counsellor, physiologist, or medical doctor).