06 May Emotions in therapy
I like to consider emotions as a gift we have been given that surpasses everything in our lives. It makes us feel like we are on top of the world or it might make us feel like we are in the deepest pit and no one and nothing can pull us out of there. But if you put that aside and really think about emotions, you realize there’s something more to it. Emotions are signals that make us aware of something that is going on with our bodies and ourselves. For example, if I feel pain somewhere in my body, my brain is trying to let me know there is something inside me that isn’t functioning properly. As mechanical and technical as it may sound, our emotions let us know what is going on within us: what’s going on well, as well as what’s going wrong.
Today therapists emphasize the importance of emotions and the impact they have on our mental and physical health. Repressing emotions and not processing them can and will have a negative, even devastating impact. We go through different challenges as we move on in life and sometimes we think it’s best not to feel certain emotions or to deny them, but things don’t get better. Temporarily, it might feel good not to attend to those emotions but eventually we have to sit down and face them one way or another.
I’ve had many clients with anger issues, repressed emotions that came up and came out in different ways, and these clients were shocked at their reactions and seemed confused. They usually say something like, “I don’t understand. Why did I react like that? I am not that kind of a person.” It’s not rocket science: every emotion that we don’t process and try to push down deep inside of us will eventually come out and it might shock us when it does and the way it manifests. The question is this: Are you willing to let things go that far or would you rather face your emotions, as painful as they might be, and allow yourself to grow and become stronger?
Something happens when we address our emotions. Our body reacts, our mind reacts, things get to be processed and the meaning we’ve given them changes too. I want to emphasize that it’s not enough to express emotions, you have to understand and process them. Of course, expressing them is the first step. It’s like building a bridge, but once it’s built you move along to the other side. Crossing this “bridge” involves a lot of processing and assigning a meaning to situations, people, maybe even to ourselves. It’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s a necessary process if you want to develop healthy habits and grow as a person.
The moment I ask my clients how they feel in regards to something that has happened or something that someone has said to them, a new “door” opens for me and for them to work on. Emotions are powerful and they can have a great impact in our lives if we let ourselves feel them. Too many times I’ve heard clients say: “I’ve never allowed myself to feel that. I didn’t realize I was angry at my parents. I felt ashamed and I tried to hide it”, and so on.
Feel. Allow yourself to go through the wide range of emotions life throws at you. When you’ll get triumphant on the other side and you’ll look back, you’ll feel like a conqueror. Let me tell you a secret: you are a conqueror.