Updated: Dec 9, 2020
There are many ways to work with clients in coaching and counselling, the most common is talking. But unless the language we use is emotive and we have an embodied presence there will be disconnect between reality and your words. In this case our words have little impact on our ability to understand ourselves more deeply and make conscious changes. Even neuroscience agrees that our memories of things are stored along pathways in the brain that are connected to emotions and the only way to illicit neural plasticity is with emotive thoughts that also impact our physiology.
I can't help but think that many people are uneasy with emotions and I can't tell you the number of times I've heard sentiments around the idea that emotions are bad, irrational or inconvenient. There are also stereotypes and gender conditioning that comes into play with certain emotions- women don't get angry, men don't cry. I don't agree with this obviously and quite the opposite I believe emotions are are real, they make life meaningful and teach us about what who we are and what we want. It's only more recently I have really got in touch with complex emotions like shame and been able to explore my anger more honestly. If you ever felt something inside you know it can't be switched off, they are real and they are energy that unites the body and mind and needs expression in that moment. Emotions are the elemental forces of our energy and are neither good or bad in and of themselves but emotions are so important for our wellbeing.
Gabrielle Roth says in her book Maps to Ecstasy "Unexpressed, repressed, or suppressed, this energy becomes toxic. Without release. it surfaces in lumps, clots, tumours, spasms, migraine headaches and other symptoms of physical distress. It is now clear that the repression of feelings has medical consequences. A wide variety of recent research has shown that repressing emotions takes its toll on our health- "repression" personalities are shown to be much more prone to disease. The only real option, the only healthy alternative, is to embrace our emotions, befriend them , to make them our own, and to learn to experience and express them appropriately in the moment."
She also talks about her work with 5 basic emotions; fear, anger, sadness, joy and compassion. Most of us try to avoid to the negative emotions like fear, anger and sadness and crave the positive ones like joy and compassion. The truth is we all experience all these emotions, they are like our weather and there is a reason why. Emotions inform us of who we are and what we need to do. We can't afford to numb ourselves any longer; for example climate change requires us to respond to our emotions and act with clarity and care.
Essentially fear protects us, ager defends us, sadness releases, joy uplifts, compassion unites. Each of these emotions need to flow freely and be expressed in appropriate ways if we are able to be present. Sometimes that takes creativity and self exploration. Mindfulness and movement and working with a life coach and counsellor can certainly help you unpack and understand your emotional life better. Doing some release work and diving into the emotions that most familiar with you including those you push away, resist, feel conflicted about or try to avoid is powerful and can make space for some of the emotions you haven't experienced for awhile. There is nothing better than finding freedom in your body so you can be whole and experiencing the full range of your emotional life.