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I'm Fine! Learning to Unblock Your Emotions

by an extract from the book by Dr Andrew Tresidder

listed in psychotherapy

[Image: I'm Fine! Learning to Unblock Your Emotions]


Emotional Well-Being - Healing our Emotions

What seems to happen for many of us is that in at least some areas of our lives, we get stuck on the Ladder on one or other rung. Once stuck - because it was too painful, the time was not right, or for whatever reason - it is difficult to get moving again - so we become 'frozen' to one particular rung of the ladder. But by realising that there is such a Ladder and that we are stuck, we have insight into our problems and are able to start moving again, or at least recognise our need to get started.

What strategies are there to help us get started again, to move towards the resolution of our emotional baggage? What coping mechanisms are there?

'A problem shared is a problem halved'. Talking can help. Just the sharing of the story of an experience can, by articulating and clarifying it, give meaning to it, and help start the process towards resolution. This could be with a friend, a stranger (it's easier sometimes to share our secrets with a stranger than a friend) or a counsellor. It could include goal-setting or a problem-orientated approach. Counselling, of course, includes these techniques.

The powerful technique of Emotional Stress Release, or Rapid Memory Healing is vital for us all to be able to access at will. Remember how people under stress sometimes put their hands on their forehead? This activates an emotional resolving process and can powerfully dissolve present problems, as well as buried past trauma, which may otherwise be contributing to flashbacks or feeling of panic. Of course, tears, even without a hand on the forehead, are a valuable release. Deep breathing can be harnessed in special techniques such as Transformational Breathing.

Touch is a very reassuring and helpful mechanism to help us feel secure, and support us in a safe place whilst resolution occurs. A hug is something every mother instinctively gives her child when it is distressed, unless she herself is feeling very unloved. Playing with an animal or child can also be cathartic.

Sometimes, however, the patterns of frozen emotion are held deep within us, often unconsciously. This brings its own problems, as Dr Dean Ornish's work in the USA has shown that expressing emotions and achieving emotional balance helps you live longer and more healthily. Such deeply held emotions can sometimes be uncovered by skilled counselling, or, quietly alone, by proactive use of the Emotional Stress Release technique.

Deeply held emotions may need another catalyst to start them moving on the ladder again, such as Flower Essence Therapy or Homeopathy. For instance, Rescue Remedy helps most people with acute distress and worry, whilst deeply held grief can be moved on and resolved by Ignatia, Natrum Mur, Staphisagria or others depending on the precise symptoms of the individual. The elements of Flower Essence Therapy and Emotional Stress Release are not difficult to master and are already being taught more and more widely. Flower essences can be used over time, or in a sequential healing process to resolve specific blockages.

Sometimes pharmaceutical medicines may help us cope for a while if we are too deep in the pit of despair. They may work to lift our mood, whilst waiting for time to heal the deeper causes of the imbalance. Antidepressant use can certainly be life-saving, as before the introduction of ECT and modern antidepressants, many people tragically took their lives whilst in the throes of untreated and often unrecognised depression. However, the effects and addictive potential of diazepam, widely prescribed in the 1960s and 1970s, should not be forgotten. Initially hoped to be a magical cure for distress, it later became obvious that it did not resolve the causes of the distress. Worse, in some people the long-term use of diazepam was associated with an addiction syndrome, and a change in brain chemistry that only slowly reversed after stopping its use.

Alcohol should be mentioned, because it 'wipes clean' the emotional state but doesn't resolve or integrate the underlying experience. Rather it acts to obliterate and distract our senses, just as excessive use of TV can also provide a distraction, so leading to a log-jam of unresolved issues.

Smoking is an often used release habit for emotional tension for many adults, just as sucking the thumb is for children, and sucking the breast or a dummy is for babies. It provides a form of security, but unfortunately, smoking is not at all safe! Most people in a traffic jam fiddle with their faces and mouths. Sucking a cigarette, or a pen, is merely a development of this. Drugs, as well as alcohol, are sought by many as a release from emotional stress or the pain and lack of meaning that life holds for them. Again, unfortunately, relief is short-lived, and only postpones any healthy resolution of emotions.

Emotional well-being is something we'd all like. Each of us is capable of creating a life to reflect the true expression of our heart's longing. This life is just waiting for us to live it - but to stay true to the perfect template, we need to listen carefully to, and act upon, the messages and feelings that flow towards us. These are often quiet whispers within us. At times the flow of these feelings and whispers gets blocked within us. Our emotions then go out of balance, and we become cluttered with emotional baggage which upsets our lives.

Yet the skills to help us with our emotions, and to live in balance, are not difficult to assimilate. A population strategy for emotional health does however require every single one of us to recognise the denial mechanism, unlock it, and be prepared to equip ourselves with the skills for emotional health. Then to teach the skills to as many others as possible, so that the habit of emotional healing is deeply ingrained in our culture.

After all, one of the challenges of life is to live in a way that enhances our self-worth and honours our self - 'that honours the unique, lovable, sacred and vastly capable being that we each are', as Tony Humphreys puts it in Work and Worth.

Perhaps the key issues are lack of knowledge about the journey of life and not having a map to show us what happens to our emotions, invisible as they are. So, without the tools to give us a detached view of life, we get caught up in strong and sticky emotions - and get stuck!

Sandra Goodman PhD
Published by Newleaf, imprint of Gill & Macmillan Ltd
ISBN 0-7171-3416-4

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