Healing emotions takes a shift from thinking to actually feeling our emotions, and working them through. Feeling our feelings doesn’t actually take much time. What takes time is all the ways we avoid feeling our emotions and all the time we spend caught up in emotional reactions! Healing our emotions is not about thinking about them or avoiding them or reacting to them. These are all ways we slow down the process of healing emotions.
In other words, healing occurs when we make the shift from thinking about our issue to feeling our feelings.
What do we mean by feeling feelings? This is very different than being caught up in a torrent of emotional reactions. It is different from having a lot of feelings come up.
The difference is in the focus. When we have a lot of feelings (or are caught up in them)...anger or irritation or sadness or anxiety...we are not really focused on the feelings. We are caught up in reacting to them, trapped in our thoughts. In a way, instead of feeling our emotions our emotions have us...they are taking us for a ride.
The shift from thinking to feeling happens when we pay attention to the feelings themselves. This means actually entering them, not thinking about the problem or even about the feeling. So it is actually about feeling the anger, sadness or fear or whatever, and following what happens.
Feelings live in our bodies so that is where to find them. And feelings have a lot of energy in them...each feeling has a different type of feeling.
Anger is hot and has a lot of energy. Some places we may feel anger is in our jaws, neck and shoulders and in our upper arms.
Grief is wet and heavy. We can feel it pulling us down deep inside us, in a heavy heart.
Fear is usually cold and pushes in or out. It's often in our nerves and belly,
These feelings are usually pretty uncomfortable. But when we feel them they change, and this often happens very quickly. We can discover, for example, that anger is not endless, but can quickly take us to the fear and grief underneath it, and as we experience them we feel freer and more alive. (To learn more about specific feelings go to our Emotions page.)
It is consciously allowing ourselves to feel the emotions in our body as they rise up into expression. That is what emotions need. They need an opportunity to be expressed fully. And then they shift!
Many times we don’t recognize this crucial difference, so we remain stuck in anger or grief or anxiety far longer than we need to. We are in emotional pain, caught up in it. We're reacting to them and holding them at bay.
For some people, being caught in emotional pain is like drowning…we are desperate but don’t know how to get on to solid ground. We're caught up in a flood of emotions, we are overwhelmed.
Others get caught up in thoughts…reacting to the feelings by thinking in a frantic search for reasons…often blaming ourselves or another:
In both cases, instead of feeling our feelings all the way through we react to them by over thinking and blaming. And a lot of this is avoiding our actual feelings, that then get buried.
We can also avoid our emotions by distracting ourselves…by day dreaming, keeping busy, running errands, listing to music, etc. This postpones healing our emotions.
Another way we avoid feelings is by trying to rise above them...with prayers or affirmations or meditation. We can even use yoga this way. This too postpones the healing of our emotions. We may temporarily feel better, having risen above our uncomfortable feelings and calmed down, but we've not really worked them through. Still, it can be helpful to give us a breather and some distance from feelings so we can get more centered.
It is difficult to talk about the ways we shift away from feeling our feelings and how that postpones healing emotions. Most of us don't distinguish these different consciousness states.
The emotional retreats we lead are for the specific purpose of helping people move through difficult emotions to the other side.
Here are some answers to questions you may have about healing emotions.
“But feeling my feelings doesn’t solve the problem!”
You hurt because she died or he left or you lost your job or you got angry and said damaging things…or whatever happened.
"How does feeling my feelings make it all better, solve the problem, heal the wounds?" you say.
Feelings are our pathway to growing and loving. When we stop feeling or block feelings we stop growing.
Life is not a problem to be solved. It is a journey to be lived. It is about growing, healing, and most importantly loving. We are here to love and learn. We are here to love and be loved.
All of our thinking or distracting ourselves or reacting will not change what has happened, although it can help change what we do in the future.
But first we need to come into the present and stop reacting. And that is exactly what feeling our feelings does. Emotions help us heal our bodies and minds.
Each feeling helps us in a different way:
The wet tears of grief soothe us and wash away pain. Grieving helps us shift from the pain of loss to the honoring of what we had, that can live on in us as joyous memories.
The fire of anger mobilizes us to protect us from pain, from being hurt or victimized. But if we are blinded by rage we may do more harm than good. Anger gives us strength and focus as it is worked through.
The contraction and hyper-alertness of fear helps protect us from harm. But if we stay stuck in fear we remain stuck in our lives. Fear, as we work it through, centers us, giving us clarity and excitement.
As we feel each feeling, we move beyond being stuck in them to the other side. This is the process of healing emotions. Healing emotions is the action of evolving our stuck emotions, freeing the energy in them for good.
"But won’t feeling my anger just make it worse?"
For many people anger has gotten them in a lot of trouble...saying and doing things they later regret. They've learned to suppress anger, and try to hold it back. If this is you, you might be concerned that expressing your anger will just do more damage!
I am not saying go out and express your anger at somebody. If this is something you are caught up you may just be trapped in that pattern you learned in your younger years as a way to deal with frustration. You may need to learn more effective and constructive ways to meet your needs. Cleaning out the back log of suppressed anger is a good start, and our retreats are a place to do this.
The problem for many angry people is thatl the suppressed anger turns to rage. Our thoughts focus on our being wronged and can stir up old feelings until they finally pour out as rage.
Rage is quite different than anger, it is a reaction to built-up anger. Anger is focused and protective...we often get angry because we feel victimized. "You did this to me."
Rage is, as they say, blind...it is not focused at all. "You did this to make me angry" becomes rage at everybody.
The suppressed anger in us from the past slowly turns to rage if it is not given an outlet. Our thoughts, based on old learned patterns, can stir up these old emotions, building it up until it is hard to contain.
Our bodies want to get rid of that pain, so it comes up as a hot, fiery volcano to erupt out of us, freeing us from suppressed poison. But this can do a lot of damage.
I remember working as a psychotherapist with men who were violent towards their wives. In every case they saw themselves as victims, fighting perceived injustices. They said something like "She made me do it."
They may have had regret and were finally seeking treatment for their problem behavior, but deep down needed to heal that feeling of being victimized, which often went back to their childhood.
Unfortunately the clinic where I worked was not a setting for healing emotions, where I could help them feel their feelings and let them go. Rather, I tried to work with them to understand their behavior and manage it...a difficult and often not very successful process.
Our retreats are designed to help people work through old feelings to get to the other side of pain and reactive patterns. It's a safe place to work through old angers, as well as stuck grief and fear.
Our Emotional Healing Retreats
As we express our anger (or grief or fear) we get it out of our body and feel tremendous relief. We release the past and come into the present with new resources. We receive the gifts that our feelings offer us.
This is difficult to do on our own. It can be very difficult to fully feel our feelings in daily life. We don't want to hurt others or overwhelm them. At the retreats we finally have a place we can really let our feelings out.
The retreats are intensive personal growth events that help you work through your stuck feelings and get to the other side of them. Healing emotions allow you to come back to the present moment.
It is here, now, in this moment that we have all our internal resources for healing and change. These resources…our wisdom, love, passion come from the same feelings we were avoiding or stuck in:
Anger worked through is passion and aliveness and the energy to connect deeply with others and move forward.
Grief worked through is joy, love, compassion.
Fear worked through is excitement and clarity.
If you would like to learn more about healing emotions at our retreats and find out if the retreats are appropriate for you, contact Jon using the form below.