by Paula MuranWhat Do Emotions Have to Do With Healing?
Emotions are the root cause of almost every injury and illness. Anger, fear, unworthiness, and other emotions get "stuffed" into the body. Over time these limiting emotions weaken the physical body, creating stiffness, aches, pain and general discomfort, which eventually can cause more serious conditions like tumors and cancer.
In the allopathic and western medicine world, we have lost touch with the basic concept of true healing. We substitute a band-aid for a cure and wonder why we don't feel better. People get ill for many reasons. Each diseased state is telling us that we are ignoring some part of self and change is necessary. While many factors contribute to healing and it happens on many levels, all require attention throughout the entire healing practice.
Ignoring the mental, emotional or spiritual bodies would not provide adequate and long-term good health.
Emotions are the foundation on which we build our lives. They inspire and they limit us. Joy, bliss and happiness, along with anger, fear, confusion and unworthiness, make us a whole person. Anger is often the impetus of motivation to accomplish goals, while fear has the exact opposite effect. Confusion, on the other hand, keeps thoughts spinning, causing a cloud of chaos. Happiness and joy are contagious and elevate everything we do. But why is it that joy is often the least experienced, while fear, anger, confusion and unworthiness dominate?
Limiting emotions cause us to stay stuck in a false perception about the self. Fear plays havoc with relationships, careers, success and finances. Head colds, for instance, are a direct result of emotional confusion, while a toxic liver motivates anger.
Emotions and beliefs also shroud our true divine Self. As we explore spirituality, it is necessary to also acknowledge and eventually release or let go of limitation in the form of fear, denial, and disbelief. This action takes courage and trust as we explore the inner workings of the Self. As our world transitions, there is a real urgent need to change. External circumstances perpetuate the already abundant level of fear around us. Anger, confusion, and mistrust all contribute to a society that is overwhelmed. It's time for change.
HOW TO IDENTIFY LIMITING EMOTIONS
Look at friends and family members as mirrors or reflections. What you see in another that bothers you or angers you is a part of yourself that has not yet been healed and loved. I suggest you begin criticizing your dearest friends and then turn all that criticism around to yourself. This exercise gives you an opportunity to look at your limiting emotional issues. Allow others to reflect back your brilliance or limitation. Once you have located your personal limitation, it's time for change. Emotional patterns begin, in the first place, when we place a judgment upon them. This time experience (feel) the energy of anger, but don't judge it - just experience it. Allow anger to run all the way down to your toes. As if you are sitting in a pond of red water - now enjoy it. Love the feeling that anger produces. From here we can begin dialoguing with anger. This helps us locate the core issue underneath the anger. Yes, that is correct, strike up a conversation with anger. Ask it questions like, "What are you teaching me?" or "Why am I so angry all the time?" With these answers you are able to make change.
Can You Recognize Your feelings?
Sometimes people don't allow themselves to have certain emotions (for example, you tell yourself, "Feeling angry is not all right.") Sometimes people aren't honest with themselves about their emotions (for example, saying, "I'm just having a bad day," when the truth is they're sad). When you mislabel emotions or deny them, you cannot address them and they build up inside you.
Are you Aware of Physical Signs of Certain Feelings?
Maybe you get an upset stomach when you are anxious, bite your fingernails when you are stressed, or shake when you are angry. Think about the emotions that trouble you, and try to identify how they show physically.
How Do You Cope With Your Feelings Now?
How do you respond when you experience negative emotions? How do your feelings affect you and those around you? For instance, do your feelings interfere with your relationships with others? Do people avoid you, try to keep you from getting upset, or try to make you feel better? Focus on one or two emotions you need to learn to better cope with.
How Do You Express Your Emotions?
It is important to find an appropriate way to express emotions. You can express feelings indirectly (to a trusted group, friend, or counselor), or you can express feelings directly to others about whom you have the feelings. You need to learn in which situations it is appropriate to express feelings directly. You also can change your thinking in ways that result in your feeling differently. For example, instead of saying, "I am so angry she doesn't agree with me, I feel like using," you can frame your feelings as "It's all right for someone not to agree with me, and using will not make anything better."
Do not let out-of-control feelings drive you. Learning to cope with emotions means allowing yourself to feel and balancing an honest response with intelligent behavior.
Since it is often our feelings that bring us so much trouble (along with the thoughts that precede them), we are going to take an in-depth look at some emotions. For a start, let's look at DENIAL.
Denial is the psychological process by which human beings protect themselves from things which threaten them by blocking knowledge of those things from their awareness. It is a defense which distorts reality; it keeps us from feeling the pain and uncomfortable truth about things we do not want to face. If we cannot feel or see the consequences of our actions, then everything is fine and we can continue to live without making any changes.
Denial comes in many forms. It is not just for chemical dependents either. If you are human, you have denial about something - your relationships, your behavior, your health, your family, etc. We all want everything to "be fine." We have denial to keep us from pain.
For persons who are addicted, to keep their denial is to die. In the process, they create pain for those around them, and they have denial about that too. To recover, they need to see their denial and see how it works so that they can loosen the grip of their addictions. Denial is replaced by the truth and acceptance. To be in denial feels like anger, fear, shame, and isolation. Instead of being cold and cut off from themselves and others, they can be warm and begin to grow again.
Defenses are the specific way we ward off the attacks on our denial. Some defenses are conscious and we are aware of them. Others are subconscious. We use both to keep our denial intact. Listed below are common defenses, or forms of denial. We use all forms of denial, although there are some that become our favorites.
SIMPLE DENIAL: Simply denying being addicted or chemically dependent. Example: "You're an alcoholic." "No, I'm not."
MINIMIZING: Minimizing is admitting the problem to some degree but in such a way that it appears to be much less serious or significant than it actually is. "I wasn't that bad at the party", "Yes, I drink, but not that much", "I had a couple, but I was okay to drive," "I only drink beer, not the hard stuff, so it's not that bad" are frequently heard examples of minimizing.
RATIONALIZING: Rationalizing is making excuses or giving reasons to justify your behavior about your drinking or other addictive behaviors. Examples: "I can't sleep, so I drink or use pills." "I had a hard day and was upset," "I usually don't drive after one drink, but a friend needed a ride home; that's the last time I'm the nice guy!" The behavior is not denied but an inaccurate explanation of its cause is given.
INTELLECTUALIZING or GENERALIZING: Intellectualizing is avoiding emotional, personal awareness of an addiction-related problem, by using theories about your dependency, keeping it general and vague. "Are those breath machines really reliable? Just the other day I was reading about problems with them." "Lots of people have wine with meals, are they alcoholics?" "My family is alcoholic and I have the wrong genes." "My childhood was so bad, it's a way of coping with my underlying feelings." These are all examples of intellectualizing.
BLAMING: Blaming (also called "projecting") is maintaining that the responsibility for the behavior lies somewhere else, not with us. "You would drink too, if you were married to her!" "The cop was out to get me!" or "I lost my job, that's what made me drink!" are examples of blaming. The behavior is not denied, but it's cause is placed "out there", not within the person doing it.
DIVERSION: Diversion is changing the subject to avoid a subject that is felt to be threatening. A common example of diversion is responding with a joke, such as "You wouldn't expect me to walk in that condition, would you?" Other examples of diversion: "Yeah, I got drunk last night, so what's for dinner?" "My drinking bothers you? Your weight bothers me!"
BARGAINING: Bargaining is cutting deals or setting conditions for when things will be right to deal with the problem. Examples: "I'll quit drinking if you quit smoking!" "I'll quit when there is less stress at work."
PASSIVITY: Passivity is ignoring the situation, or being it's victim. "I've tried to quit before, but it's stronger than me." "There's nothing I can do." "If only I had more will power..." are all examples of passivity.
HOSTILITY: Hostility occurs when the person becomes angry or unpleasantly irritable when the subject of his dependency is mentioned, scaring or threatening people away from discussing it. A classic example is the situation where the drinker asserts that his wife does not mention that he drinks too much. In fact, she used to mention it, but hasn't for years because every time she mentioned it in the past, he got angry and they had a fight - so, she doesn't mention it anymore. Examples of hostility: "I'm lousy in bed when I'm drunk? Fine, no more sex." "Get off my back!" "You like my paychecks, don't you?"
Denial is automatic; it is not usually a matter of deliberate lying or willful deception. Most dependent people do not know what is true or false concerning their drinking or drug use and its consequences. They are blinded to the fact that their view of the situation does not conform to reality. The denial system distorts their perception and impairs their judgment so they become self-deluded and incapable of accurate self-awareness.
Denial is progressive. The denial system becomes increasingly more pervasive and entrenched as the illness of chemical dependency or other dependency progresses. In the very early stages it is minimal, and with encouragement, such people can usually view their problem more easily and then seek appropriate help.
DENIAL: failing to recognize obvious implications or consequences of a thought, act, or situation. More examples include (1) a person having an extramarital affair gives no thought to the possibility of pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. (2) People living near a volcano disregard the dangers involved. (3) A disabled person plans to return to former activities without planning a realistic program of rehabilitation.
Denial is used to deal with the death of a loved one, with addiction, in abusive relationships, and in many other areas of life. It is only by moving out of our denial that healing and recovery can begin.