Give your deepest most respressed emotions a voice
This is where the magic happened for me. It’s the weirdest thing if you’ve never done anything like this before and are inherently sceptical about things you've never tried.
I consider myself to be a very open-minded person in many ways but also a very logical, sciencey, fact-driven person. So when I understood that the root of my chronic pain recovery was going to be - addressing the emotions that I had been resisting my whole life and JOURNALING MY UNFELT FEELINGS - I thought "Nah, this won’t work, I won’t be able to do it" and I resisted it, HARDCORE.
I learnt later that this resistance is normal, more on that in the what to expect section. I expected that addressing everything would be like looking into a vast and frightening abyss. But not for long, I had come this far, I HAD to carry on.
This is where I really started learning. I started to read thousands of success stories, I joined support groups, I found lots of evidence that this type of work is proven and REAL. I connected with people in the same boat as me that had healed...I had found my holy grail even though I was afraid initially. To say this work changed my life would be a complete understatement. It saved it.
I literally BECAME MY OWN MEDICINE. To tell you this was an empowering feeling would be a complete understatement.
Demolishing life-long practices
I had buried (or at least brushed over or resisted) hurtful emotions for my whole life, without even realising it. I was probably subconsciously thinking that if I just moved on from them quickly, they wouldn't have a chance to hurt as much. But now I look back, I did it ALL THE TIME. What do you do when something happens that’s too hard to face? Bury it, right? Distract yourself, think positively, be outwardly happy, the life of the party, make stupid decisions, put up with hurtful crap, drink loads, right? Haha yes, but also NO.
This cycle that I practised throughout my life, of not really addressing difficult situations or letting my feelings really be heard or dealt with, was literally rotting me from the inside. I’m sure you can relate somewhat if you’ve read this far!
As adults in society, it’s literally burned into us that we must behave in a certain way and these behaviours are taught to us from an early age. Imagine for a moment an upset toddler with hurt feelings. They don’t turn a blind eye and bury their response do they? They kick and scream and throw tantrums and cry uncontrollably until they get it out! But we are taught that being angry or upset isn't good, we must not cry or scream or fight our way through feelings. Even more so as adults. Why is pretending that everything is OK is the norm now? It's actually engrained and enforced into us!
That child-like response is completely natural and hardwired into us in order for us to let the shitty stuff out, but we can’t possibly do that as adults, we would be seen to be outrageous, overreacting, feral, bipolar and UNHINGED!
Connecting to your emotions
There are many ways to connect to your feelings or feel the emotions you’ve hidden. Some decide to go to therapy at this point and really figure out what’s going on with the help of a professional.
The idea is just to fully feel your emotions. Not overthink them, not fix them or obsess over the story that created them, don't even worry about releasing them or why you are even feeling them...JUST FULLY FEEL THEM. Open the door to them, invite them in and sit with them. It's really easy to overthink all of this and expect that you now have to face all your demons and fix every fight you’ve ever had but you don't. Just feel your emotions, don't try to THINK of what you're feeling and give any logic to it...
Ask yourself a few questions to get things going. What are you unhappy within your life? How do those things make you feel? Grief, shame, helplessness, anger, vulnerability, embarrassment, disappointment, frustration, fear? What else is going on? Did you feel similar things at any time growing up?
WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE IF YOU COULD? What would you honestly feel if you allowed yourself to feel without fear? If there was no consequence of having that feeling, what would it be?
It's important to not judge yourself for feeling resisted emotions, it might feel weird to address them if you've hidden them for so long. Just remember that your brain has kept them from you in order to protect you, but they are meant to be experienced. Embrace them, good or bad, they're safe. And either way, the feeling passes pretty quickly.
I found JournalSpeak
A pivotal moment in my life for sure. JournalSpeak a type of expressive writing therapy, taught and led by Psychotherapist Nicole Sachs LCSW and backed by thousands of others like me, practicing and healing in an amazing online support group.
I’ve created a whole separate section dedicated to JournalSpeak practice because of its importance and the number of resources associated with it. It's the best solution that I’ve found that worked for me, it totally changed my perception of myself through self-reflection and that completely turned my life around...and continues to do so.
Nicole has lots of helpful content to support your recovery, an amazing weekly Podcast, IG TV and Instagram live Q & A sessions, Youtube videos, an amazing book, online course plus virtual and in-person recovery retreats. You can either go straight to the JournalSpeak section now to find out more detail or continue reading on to the next step below.
After journaling, it’s likely that your emotions could be in full force at this point, depending on how your writing went, so this next section is crucial, DON’T SKIP IT!
Feel your emotions physically
Journaling also taught me how to feel emotions in my body, rather than think them in my head. It was critical to releasing the tension that the repressed emotion had caused. Almost like a download for the nervous system, feeling our emotions physically is an important step that allows the pent-up energy of all the blocked feelings to flow freely in our bodies.
Find out how to practice this here - How to feel your feelings and why it matters in TMS recovery.
Where to next?
Self-soothing is REALLY important as you navigate feeling the stuff you’ve never wanted to feel. Practised regularly, this can change your life.
Click here to continue to the next section (Soothe)