I recently read an article about the science of stress where the author indicated that the relationship between emotions and our neurological pathways are similar to an off gassing process. That emotions are no more than a side effect of neurochemical releases happening all the time within the body.
What a way to simplify and reduce the human experience to a bunch of hot air. While this isn’t entirely un-true it’s also not entirely representative of the complexity of our mind-body connection.
To me, emotions are the CORE of our human experience. Emotions are what personalize our life, create interaction with others and differentiate us from all other animal life on planet earth. They can influence our decision-making, whether positively or negatively and help us express our thoughts to others.
Within the realm of communication about 10% of what people understand from us is from the actual words we say. Twenty percent is from the tone in which we say it, driven by emotional intent and 70% is based on non-verbal communication aka body language, facial expressions and emotional response.
Net net, emotions play a massive role in our lives and can support our path forward but can also hold us back.
In a healthy body emotions are an end result from a process that begins within the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus a small part at the base of our brain which releases a myriad of hormones that in turn trigger other areas of the brain to react in specific ways using our emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, anger etc. In addition those hormones are released all over the body depending on the situation at hand and can affect functions in the gut, heart, lungs sexual organs etc. Depending on whether we are in a stress response (aka fight or flight) or a relaxation response (aka homeostasis).
This happens hundreds of times a day managing our reaction, action and experience of the world.
But sometimes things happen in our lives that have a negative impact on these programmed processes within the body. Abuse, physical trauma, persisting stress and the like whether a one-time major impact or impact over a long period of time damage the natural processes managed by the body.
When we repress emotions due to abuse or trauma whether one time or continuous, recent or historical it breaks our natural rhythm to manage emotions normally through the body and mind. We then search for external solutions to give us the closure on each emotion that should in fact happen in our own body without any intervention at all.
This leads us to introduce behaviours such as emotional eating, drug use, sexual experimentation, isolation and so much more. We bury our emotions under behaviours that temporarily soothe a greater need. We layer on every stressor the behaviour we want to rid ourselves of most. Over time dependency to the behaviour is strong. Just as strong as the hatred for the same behaviour.
So you must be asking, how do I manage this within myself? How do I let go of this behaviour? How do I come back into my own power.
My recommendation is simple and two-fold: 1) Understand the source or root cause the behaviour is soothing. 2) Approach yourself with love and kindness.
Once clear articulation of the link between unwanted behaviour and your root cause the easier it will be to recognize the triggers you face on a daily basis.
Then you can begin to practice kindness, acceptance and love towards yourself. Know your path is trying to teach you a life lesson not punish you for anything you have or have not done. This point of view will empower you but is not easy to stay within.
Trust me I’ve been in the dance of learning self-care while so easily wanting to drown myself in self-hatred because it’s familiar and easy. The latter also keeps you small and away from your true potential.
Don’t fear the hard work just because it’s unfamiliar and different that societies so often recommended paths of prescription drugs and supressing our emotions. While this may be needed in some cases, please explore this option in tandem.