I was born into a big family, exactly in the middle. As a young child, I was sensitive, shy, stuttered and cried easily. Like a wolf pack who senses a weak link, I was “toughened” up – I was taught not to cry so much, defend myself, and develop a sense of humor used to deflect any teasing. I admit, this was probably a good survival strategy at the time! It won me a nice group of friends and I soon outgrew the stuttering and shyness but never the sensitivity.
Fast forward to my mid-adult years where I experienced mounting stress and conflicts that went unaddressed. I was so used to stuffing my emotions down and avoiding conflict to keep the peace that I got to the point where I really didn’t know how I was feeling about anything. I became numb to myself.
Emotions and Health
Could this emotional suppression have contributed to my developing auto-immune illness? The field of psychoneuroimmunology (the study of the intersection of behavior, hormonal and immune systems) says yes. The body is literally turning its self-protection system against itself. By suppressing emotions, I literally was creating an inner environment of conflict. The very conflict I was avoiding became internalized and translated into stress molecules. Ancient healing traditions from around the globe including Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, know that emotions are central to our health. Their methodology focuses on releasing stuck chi or energy. What are major blocks to the natural life force? You guessed it! Suppressed emotions and ignored feelings. The body does keep the score.
Many research studies have shown that emotional health has a profound impact on our physical and mental health. Emotional dysregulation has been linked to burnout, depression, anxiety, and a host of physical illnesses.
Unfortunately, I believe this has led to an obsession with positive emotions and positive thinking because these are linked to better health. However, this only leads to more bypassing and stuffing of emotions. We are in a bind in our culture – we are conditioned to not express or feel our emotions in favor of using rational thought. On top of that, there is a lot of unresolved trauma people are carrying. This is not a good mix!
And let’s face it – we have all been on an emotional roller coaster the last few years with no clear end in sight or way to get back to “normal”.
What’s the answer?
Emotions as Messengers
Katherine Peil-Kauffman’s mission is to foster global emotional wisdom. She has done research on the evolution of emotions and believes emotions are senses providing information or messages that guide and help us with self-regulation and I would add transformation. Emotions release neurochemical molecules throughout the body. “Negative” emotions point to the need for self-protection such as anger and fear. “Positive” emotions are linked to self-development and enjoyment of life. We need both – therefore all emotions are necessary and helpful in your life journey as a human being.
We need to embrace our emotions as messengers that help us survive or thrive. We need to take the time to be honest and feel what is arising. Emotions arise and move through quickly. If we remain present to them, we can better understand what those messages are and how to use those messages to better navigate life. For example, anxiety alerts us to potential danger, guilt guides our behavior, anger tells us when our boundaries have been crossed. Joy, compassion, and wonder help us thrive and grow. I believe emotional care is an essential part of self-care and can have huge benefits.
I use the term “emotional alchemy” to describe my process of working with clients who are feeling stuck or overwhelmed. Honestly, whatever the goal is, whether it’s weight loss, self-development, managing stress, healing from an illness, or making a career change, working with emotions is central to moving forward and towards what you do want to experience.
Alchemy refers to the ancient art of attempting to turn base metals like lead, into gold. By meeting your emotions with self-compassion and allowance, it opens you up for pure gold. This may come in the form of healing the past, a sense of peace or resolution, insights into how to resolve a situation and energy to create the health and life you want to live.
You are invited to a free online group coaching/workshop, Emotional Alchemy, with the Infinity Foundation on September 12th, 7-8:30 pm Central Time.
In this 90-minute session you will learn or experience:
- The science behind the “molecules of emotion”
- How different emotions affect the body
- What it means to tend and befriend yourself
- Wonder questions – guiding you to insights
- A simple but profound practice and process to work with emotions based on self-compassion and acceptance
Potential Benefits of participating:
- Feeling more energy
- Feeling connection and support with a group
- Healing or resolution
- A sense of openness and access to inner wisdom
- Increased energy and clarity
This will be the first in a series of group coaching programs I will be offering this Fall. The theme is: It Is All About You: Recapturing Your Essence – Awake, Anchored, and Authentic. More information to come!