When we talk about wellbeing we often focus on the physical, mental and emotional parts of our being as separate entities. The reality is that these are all facets integrated in one body, each working with one another trying to reach a healthy balance.
I believe that in order to address many of our challenges in our own lives and those in the society around us we need to start thinking about our wellbeing in an integrated way. We need to look at the physical signs that our bodies are trying to show us and honestly ask ourselves if this has come about from a deeper mental or emotional source.
We are run by our emotions. They control our thoughts and they control our behaviour, and for many of us, this is all done subconsciously. This isn’t through any fault of our own, because many of us haven’t been taught how to express, process or even talk about our emotions in a healthy manner. This can often leave us stuck when we’re faced with emotions that we don’t know how to deal with.
What if we had the tools to turn emotional challenges into opportunities of growth?
What if every time we were knocked down by life we saw it as a way to connect deeply with our support network?
What if every negative emotion uncovered gold nuggets of information that would propel us forward in our lives?
Well this is where emotional intelligence comes in.
To deeply and emotionally connect with each other we need learn how to feel our emotions, collect the lessons they’re trying to teach us and then let them pass so we can move forward with our lives. This means really getting in touch with our feelings and learning how to be present with them again, rather than escaping through an iPhone or numbing out through a substance. By doing this we naturally develop compassion, emotional resourcefulness and authenticity, allowing us to reach a greater sense of fulfilment and wellbeing.
It’s easy enough to talk about emotional intelligence and to work on this when we’re already in a positively pivoted mindset, but for most of us this isn’t the case. For some, there are deep threads of emotional pain which have been avoided for years, being left unspoken, unaddressed and unprocessed so that they’re bubbling under the surface and subconsciously controlling our behaviour. In fact, this is such a large trend in Western society that it is the norm to avoid talking about emotions, and to express them is seen as a sign of weakness. This is why I believe many of us to live an unhealthily ‘busy’ lifestyle; one fuelled by consumerism, occupied by the media, that relies on such a quick pace of life that to stop, think and be, is a fight in itself.
To release this negative emotional energy inside of us becomes a daunting prospect, one that the media tells us is ‘crazy’, and could result in us spending the rest of our life being labelled with a mental health condition. It’s easier to believe this story and stuff down those emotions hoping that somehow they’ll disappear.
But they don’t.
They continue to crop up in negative thoughts and destructive behaviours. Starting out as judgements against ourselves, and others. Progressing to defensiveness and aggression, or depression as we deny ourselves the right to feel upset.
The fact is that most of us aren’t equipped to deal with our emotions, as we don’t have the knowledge of how to deal with them. It’s also often the case that we don’t have the support network set up in our friends and family to express our deepest vulnerabilities, so we don’t have a safe emotional space to process. Some of us don’t even have a nourishing physical space which feels safe enough to breakdown, express and release our emotions. I believe in order to unpack the years worth of suppressed emotions we need to create an environment in our lives which encompasses these three things.
To process and unpack emotions, I believe that it’s more productive to do so in a conscious manner, so we can watch, learn and understand what works for us. Therefore it’s imperative that we work on our body, mind and emotional awareness, as well as doing the work to unpick the built up of emotions that lie inside us. This can be done through practising mindfulness to be aware in the present, self reflection to be aware of the past and self questioning as a way to understand the reason why we do what we do.
The processing of suppressed emotions can be done using different therapies: Physical therapies, psychological therapies, creative/spiritual therapies or a combination of all of them to get the best results. There are lots to choose from, some will work for you, some won’t as we’re all different. The beauty is finding the right method for you at the right time and being honest about when it’s time to move to something new.
For most, a lot of this work can be self led through books, workshops and self reflection. But, for some people, who may have experienced deeply traumatic life events, processing with mindfulness can be very challenging, and if not done right could be dangerous. This is why it’s recommended that you have the guidance of at least one professional in your support network, someone who can hold your space and allow you to express in a healthy manner. This could be a therapist of the mind, body or emotions, as long as they’re the right therapist for you.