Caring for the Emotional, Part 2

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The fact that “Caring for the Emotional” comes in two parts says it all – our emotions are so important!  They can drive us, lift us, weigh us down.  All the better then to take time to consider, at any point, how you are feeling – and why. 

I said in ‘Part 1’ that ALL emotions are valid – and they are.  Given to us by Nature, every emotion is there for a purpose – just like all the parts of our physical body - and each has a healthy mode of expression.  There are different frameworks to help us understand this, by various authors.  I’m going to describe here the model I’ve found most useful.

JOY – let’s start with the easy one!   Joy, Happiness, is about SHARING with others and feeling that togetherness of celebration – a birthday, a new job, success in education.  And its right to allow Joy into your life, to feel great and acknowledge it.  Only remember - it isn’t natural to feel on top of the world every minute of every day.  Life happens, emotions change, flow, move up and down.  Understanding this can help us to avoid unnecessary disappointment.  Joy will come into our lives again. 

FEAR is about danger.  A natural WARNING mechanism.  Think of the ancient people of Earth, hunting, being hunted, exposed to the weather in ways we rarely are today.  Fear would have been a life-saver for them – which is exactly what it is meant to be.  The natural instinctive reaction to Fear is to ESCAPE – to run, to get help, to keep yourself SAFE. 

This is fine – until we start to feel Fearful when there is no actual danger to life.  Fear sets off a whole cascade of biological processes in the body – the Fight or Flight reaction.  Cortisol and adrenaline are pumped into the blood, heartbeat goes up, digestion is shut down – all so you can run for your life if you need to!  But, if you don’t ‘run for your life’, the substances put out by the body don’t get used up in the intended way, and they can, over time, be damaging. 

So, if and when you feel Fear, examine it and ASK yourself if it really is justified.  If you have the time to ask, it possibly isn’t!  The Fight or Flight reaction is so naturally fast that, in a genuine situation, its likely you would just move yourself out of the way without time for thought. 

Physical activity is good for using up the hormones of fear, so go for a walk, do some exercise appropriate to you.

ANGER  is a natural defence mechanism.  Sadly, humans use anger in all sorts of unnecessary and hurtful ways, but it has a healthy purpose – to help us defend ourselves if we are at real risk of being damaged.  The natural reaction to being hit or threatened or trapped, is for “RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION” to rise up in us, and we ‘push back’, speak up perhaps, take some appropriate action, in an attempt to change the situation and, again, keep ourselves SAFE.  This might also include calling for help from others.

Pausing and questioning yourself when you feel angry can be helpful.  ASK, WHY do I feel angry?  What has happened?  Is it justified?  Sometimes, if we are in an impossible situation, struggling with someone or something very difficult or stressful, anger can rise up without justification.  Practicing self-awareness – ‘Am I really angry?’ can be helpful. 

Anger is often over-used, for the smallest issue or imagined slight.  Or it is misdirected;  used inappropriately when another emotion feels too much or the person can’t or won’t express that emotion for whatever reason.  Usually this is GRIEF  or sadness.

SADNESS.  The mortality rate of the human race is 100%.  Every one of us will reach the end of our life at some time and we will lose people we love.  Therefore, as a human, LOSS IS INEVITABLE.  Although this seems obvious, grief is probably the emotion with which people struggle the most. 

By turning away from loss, ignoring it, suppressing it, we are harming ourselves, and sometimes, others, if Grief is misdirected and comes out as Anger.  I have experienced that reaction in family members, and it can be extremely damaging.  Shelves of books have been written about death and dying, and bereavement, and I highly recommend the works of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.   

Perhaps the most important suggestion anyone can make is - Allow Yourself to Grieve.  Grief calls for togetherness and needs consolation.  And it takes Time.  No-one can lose a loved one and be “over it” in a matter of days or even months. 

The best advice I was given after my Mum died was the honest truth that I would never be “over it”.   We ‘get over’ losing a favourite pen, or a book.  We do not ‘get over’ losing a loved one, as if they had never been there.  I found this idea illuminating and comforting.  I didn’t have to ‘forget’ my Mum, sweep her out of my memory, ‘get over’ losing her.  I was told I could, and would, be able to ADJUST to a different world, one without her physical presence.  Yes, I could that. 

In shamanic work and Energy Field Healing the cycles of life – beginning, middle and end – are understood and honoured as a natural process.  Shamans speak of the many Little Deaths in life – losing that pen, the favourite book, being made redundant, even retirement from a loved job – all these are losses.  If we allow ourselves to feel and process the Little Deaths, we are better equipped to cope with the bigger losses, when they come. 

My heart goes out to anyone – that is, everyone! -  who has to travel through the mists and fogs of bereavement.  Like you, I have been there, and I know it will come again.  That’s life.  But I have found that place of adjustment before, and therefore, I know I can again, however long it takes. 

"Riding the dark horse of grief is excruciating, hollow, numbing, enraging, and a deeply private process.  It takes as long as it takes – no more, no less."

                                                                                      Sylvia Browne    "The Other Side and Back"   


“Bone grows slowly and tissue mends in Nature's time.

And at Her pace my heart will heal,

Until the day the love and gratitude outweigh the pain.

I can't see that now, can't even accept that it might come.

 But life unfolds, and one day, I think

I might be able to hold you in my heart,

And not feel pain.”

                              Kim Quance       From “Losing Mum”, March 2006


 DISCLAIMER (The Small Print)       

These are just my current thoughts. 

Thoughts can change as we learn and grow.

I can always be wrong, but am nevertheless entitled to my thoughts.

You don’t have to like my blog or take any notice of anything I say.

It is important you always make up your own mind - about everything.

I am not you, and don’t know you or the details of your life. 

Therefore, you are responsible for any decisions or changes you make as a result of reading my thoughts. 

Finally, nothing in any of my blogs is intended nor should be taken as medical or health advice.  Always research for yourself and talk to doctors or therapists you trust (conventional or complementary).