Addressing Emotional Pain #5 – Recognizing Deeper Emotions with Artwork

To see things in the seed, that is genius.  ~ Lao Tzu

In a previous post I listed some tools to help address emotional pain.  One of those tools I learned is creating artwork that represents what you are feeling, such as a drawing, painting, sketching, doodling, photography, etc.  It doesn’t have to be fancy and you don’t have to be an artist.  The important point to remember is that the energy associated with painful emotions needs an outlet, instead of becoming trapped in the body.  Just try to get it out of you.  Stopping, distracting, dismissing or suppressing these emotions can surface later in other, potentially harmful ways.

When you create your “emotion” artwork, ask yourself a couple of questions.  “What does this picture mean?”  “What is it trying to tell me?”  It may depict a primary feeling at first, such as sadness, anger, fear, etc.  But try to dig deeper and notice other feelings that arise.  Don’t be content with the first emotion you are creating because this could help reveal core issues that need to be addressed.

Look at the following doodle for example.  Have you ever felt down or discouraged, like you were in a deep hole and didn’t know how to climb out?  If this were one of your doodles, what are your initial feelings?  Is it hopeless, overwhelmed…?  If you dig deeper, what are other feelings that arise?  List them…is it sad…lonely…frustrated…angry…isolated…irritated, etc…?  The face may not depict all the emotions, but dig deeper.  Notice what else you are feeling.  More

Addressing Emotional Pain #4 – Secondary Emotions

Knowing others is wisdom; Knowing the self is enlightenment; Mastering the self is true power.  ~ Lao Tzu

Recognizing our primary and secondary emotions helps us understand what our core emotions and issues are.  I talked a little about core issues in my previous post on body awareness.  Simply, secondary emotions occur in response to a primary emotion.  Eventually we may unknowingly bury our primary emotions until they are unrecognizable.  The problem with this is that we may think our secondary emotions are what we are really feeling, and address those, rather than addressing the true and primary emotions.

Anger is a good example of a secondary emotion.  Anger is usually a response to a primary emotion or situation.  When we get behind our anger, we may discover that there is a different emotion at the core, such as shame, fear, worry, guilt, embarrassment, regret, sadness, loneliness, etc.  Anger, although an intense emotion, is more acceptable and easier to admit to than showing vulnerability.  If a primary emotion is shame, people usually don’t want to admit to shame, so they may respond with anger instead.  Some will want to push back for safety, and get away from the true emotion with a few sharp words of anger.

Irritability can be a similar response to anger.  It is usually a secondary emotion (other than hormonal).  What about anxiety?  It could be a secondary emotion to fear.

If we don’t address our primary emotions, they likely won’t go away.  We may not express them for a variety of reasons, such as habit, upbringing, social situations, etc.  Therefore, secondary emotions may end up hindering us because we are not addressing the real issue, nor are we expressing them appropriately.  Also, we probably won’t be able to understand what our primary emotions are without understanding how to use self-awareness tools, some of which I have talked about in this blog.  Tools such as body awareness, mindfulness meditation, emotion focus therapy, guided imagery, downward arrow exercise, and so on, really help us listen to our bodies and feelings.  You may have a different tool that you have found to be effective for you.  Something to keep in mind is to keep asking yourself, “what am I feeling…what else am I feeling…what else…what else?”

It’s like deconstructing a recipe.  When you taste something, there is an interplay of ingredients that make up the overall taste.  But savor the flavors and notice the individual tastes and sensations.  What’s making up the taste?  For example, you may find that you taste cinnamon, pepper, lemon, etc.  So..…what’s really making up your emotions?  Try to deconstruct it and see what you find.

Don’t always be comfortable with your first emotion.  Try to find out what it is really about.  Recognizing deeper emotions can be very helpful part of a healing process!

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Addressing Emotional Pain #3 – Body Awareness

Notice the details - Haiga

Today, I expand on my earlier postings on body awareness as a tool for addressing emotional pain.  I’ve learned many important and enlightening things during my treatment sessions, which I share here…and yes, they are helping.

  • “Emotion Focus Therapy” – Becoming more aware of the complexity and nature of feelings.
  • “Mindfulness” – Noticing what you are feeling and where you are feeling certain emotions in the body.
  • Emotion Focus Therapy and Mindfulness go hand in hand.  You have to be mindful of the body to identify what emotions are present.
  • Identifying emotions combined with body awareness helps get to the core of issues and feelings.   Understanding emotions helps to realize what needs changing so they don’t persist and perpetuate a problem in the body.
  • Body awareness helps address and process emotions, and gives the associated energy an outlet.
  • Gradual exposure to an emotion, such as with body awareness, will lessen the intensity and lead to a greater understanding of what is happening.
  • Emotions can motivate people to take action and address them.
  • Every emotion has a corresponding physical manifestation.  This means that there is some sensation in the body occurring at the same time as the emotion (“I’m so sad my heart hurts.”  “I’m so angry my stomach is churning” etc.).  There can also be a chemical change in the body.  Hence:
  • The mind and body are connected.  They are in harmony to protect you and are not fighting against each other.  “Dualism is dead!”
  • Remember, “It’s natural to have emotional ups and downs,” per Dr. Andrew Weil on Spontaneous Happiness. More

Emotion: Anger

Anger
Anger, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (Click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
Passionate lava
Erupts through delicate veins
Withering cyclone
>>:::<<

This is an attempt to take a photo that represents an emotion that I may be experiencing.  I would have a better and quicker variety of art to create if I could draw or paint, but since I don’t have those talents, I look for photo opportunities.  The intention is to release the energy caused by that particular emotion and become calmer.  Otherwise, the effects of the emotion will continue to build in the body with each occurrence.

As far as the bees, I watched them for a bit, taking several photos.  I like this one the best.  They continually fought with each other on the flower.  It seemed like the bee that was on the flower first was not in the mood to share it with another.

Acupuncture – It works for me

Now that I had a few mind/body exercises in my toolbox, it was time to expand my options even more.  I would now be entering into another realm of treatment opportunities, which has also turned out to be quite fortunate, and necessary, for my healing.

My pain psychologist suggested that I move on from trying to find answers from Western medicine for my undiagnosed conditions and start taking more control over my healthcare.  That was great advice.  My many doctors couldn’t provide answers, and taking drugs with no diagnosis was not the solution for me.  He suggested acupuncture, reassured me that it was not painful, and gave me the name of a local acupuncturist who he knew personally.  I read her biography and found her background impressive.  (She has given me permission to include her website in my blog.)

I definitely knew of acupuncture, but I didn’t understand how needles could help and I was skeptical.  I admit that.  After a bit of pondering, I made an appointment.  I had nothing to lose and it was definitely worth a try.  Besides, if acupuncture has successfully endured for thousands of years, there is definite merit to it.  My phone call was the right decision – why? More

Body Awareness – Notice the details

Notice the details - Haiga
Notice the details – Haiga, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (Click on photo to enlarge)
This is my first submission to Kim Klassen’s Texture Tuesday

>>:::<<
Whispers of guidance
Subtle taps at awareness
Enlightened healing!
>>:::<<

The foot feels the foot when it feels the ground ~ Buddha

My previous posting on mindfulness meditation touched on the benefits of becoming more aware of the physical feelings in your body, both large and small.  Also, when you pay attention to and study your body, you begin to notice the physical sensations that occur in your body during a particular experience or emotion.

If you ask people what they feel in their body when they experience a certain emotion, a response you might get is, “I don’t know, I’ve never thought about it.”  People generally are not aware of these details. More

Ask and you shall receive an answer – maybe!

Don’t listen to friends when the Friend inside you says “Do this”  Gandhi

In my last post I talked about my first experiences with guided imagery and visual imagery and about asking my “inner advisor” questions.  I had, and still have, many questions.  So, with a new tool in hand, I went home to practice, practice, practice.  I followed the guidance I received, but I wasn’t getting answers.  My inner advisor wasn’t talking to me.

But wait!  The strange part to me was putting a question “out there.”  And even more confusing to me was how I would receive the answers.  I didn’t know what would happen or what I would feel.  How would I know it’s the answer?  How would I know I wasn’t just making it up?  More

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