Emotional Distress

My work is inspired by many books on the subject and in particular – The Secret Language of Emotions written by Karla McLaren

Karla asks “What are your feelings trying to tell you”?

Emotions are messages from our instinctive selves. They can be important carriers of absolute (and often unwanted) truth. Although many emotions aren’t welcome in most psyches, each of them has an indispensable function and something meaningful and precise to say. If we ignore and suppress our emotions, we won’t erase it’s message – we’ll just shoot the messenger and interfere with an important natural process.

The unconscious mind then has two choices: to increase the intensity of the emotion and present to us one more time (this is how unresolved moods or escalating emotional suffering may be activated), or to give up on us and store the emotional energy deep into our psyches. Now that instinct will no longer be readable as itself – as fear or anger or despair – it will still contain all its original intensity and information.

Usually this squelched intensity mutates into something else like tics, compulsions, psychosomatic illnesses, addictions and neuroses. Repressing our emotions is a perilous way to manage them.

What is the difference between a feeling and an emotion?

As mentioned, emotions are important messages from our instinctive self – fear warns us of impending danger; anger is telling us when our personal boundaries are being violated and guilt is a “course corrector” to get you to refocus on your goals.

The feelings are physiological sensations occurring in your body such as tingling skin, heat, heart beating heavily in your chest, tightness in your belly, which are registered by your brain. Chemicals are produced in response to the physiological sensations and our brain judges the goodness or badness of the experience and records an emotion such as fear, anger, happiness, joy etc. So the emotion is generally the name we give to a feeling in our body!

We have been socialised (from childhood)to express or suppress our emotions in ways that make other people feel comfortable. Emotions for the many uninformed, cause us to think they’re dangerous, are time consuming and embarrassing due to the intensity of the feelings and the conditioning we have received to “put a lid on our feelings”. Repressing our feelings and emotions can have long-term effects on our emotional health in the form of unresolved fear, anger and guilt.

What is the difference between a healthy emotion and a chronic emotion?

Healthy emotions are the important messengers from our instinctive self such as fear, anger, guilt that provides important feedback in the present moment about our emotional and instinctive selves keeping us safe and aligned to our true self.

Chronic emotions such as fear, anxiety, anger and guilt can tell us a lot about old unresolved trauma and stressful situations and the reasons for feeling this way may be deep and outside of your conscious awareness.

These chronic emotions can assist us to get to the “root” of your unresolved issues that can manifest as stress, phobias, panic attacks, and long- term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from childhood abuse and other traumatic events in your life left unresolved.