Emotional Healing involves going with the flow of your Emotions

I have just come back from kayaking on the river. The picture perfect conditions made my heart sing. The water was smooth and calm, only disrupted by the occasional waves stemming from other boats. My kayak was gliding through the water with little effort. The feeling of freedom was accentuated by the gentle splash my paddle made with each immersion in the water.

This, I thought, is like going with the flow of your emotions. Of course it is much easier when things ‘go smoothly’, when we don’t face intense emotions that create big waves in our calm waters.

Intense emotions, like big waves, can make it hard to stay upright.

 

 

They can topple us over. Literally.

 

It’s a lot harder to get back on our feet once we’ve been knocked over. I would really like to stress here, though, that our emotions are not our enemy; on the contrary, they are our friends. They are the messengers that send us information about what’s happening in our subconscious mind. Bearing in mind that over 95% of our beliefs reside in our subconscious, this is very useful information to have.

Going with the flow of your emotions, even when the going gets tough, and the waves get bigger and bigger, is the most beneficial way of relating to your emotions. Engage with them. Allow them to be. Resisting and fighting against your emotions will not make them go away. On the contrary. It will glue you to them like superglue. There is no point then in shooting the messenger. It’s like holding the postman responsible for the content of the letters he delivers. Another messenger will come along anyway, and another, and they will come more frequently and with more intensity.

The more you resist your emotions, the more frequently they will find their way into your life. If you resist anger for example, all of the sudden you might find yourself subjected to bad drivers who cut in on you, ants all of the sudden decide to build a road across your kitchen bench, then you loose your car key and you don’t have a replacement to disable your immobiliser, so your car needs to be towed and you are up for hundreds of dollars to replace the immobiliser. What’s next? Perhaps a close friend betrays you……….Or you miss out on the project at work that you hoped would be give to you. Perhaps not only were you overlooked, your colleague who knocks off work at 4 pm every day was the one who got awarded this project – your dream project that’s right up your alley. 

Emotional healing and emotional thriving require us to listen to the message our emotions carry. Paying attention to the message will lead the way to releasing suppressed emotions. In other words, emotional freedom.

Katrin Den Elzen

Recovery, Renewal & Reflection                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Making sense of change

How do you go about Emotional Healing?

 

Let’s say you have recognised that emotional healing is crucial to your wellbeing and a contented, peaceful life. But now you are faced with the million dollar question: how do you actually go about emotional healing.

The main reason why I want to share my personal story of the traumatic illness of my late husband and my own recovery from that loss and trauma is this: I would like to plant the seed in you that emotional healing is possible. I am not saying it’s easy or smooth or fast. But it is my hope that you might open the door to possibilities.

Today as I write this article I can say that I am happier within myself than I have ever been. This inner connectedness and fulfilment does not erase my pain of loss. But the pain of loss no longer erases my happiness. The two co-exist.

I feel so strongly about sharing my story of loss, recovery and emotional healing that I am writing a memoir about it. I believe that emotional wellbeing is possible, even after experiencing trauma. It is important to be aware though that emotional healing and wellbeing is not something that happens by accident. It is an art. Even the most talented artists don’t become masters without practice. Emotional wellbeing needs to be nurtured. It needs to be given attention and input.

There are steps that you can take to consciously bring contentment, fulfilment and joy as a state of being into your life. It’s a gradual process. Immediate change bit by bit. Also, remember, you don’t have to do it on your own. Emotional support is available. This may be through friends or a professional who is trained in being able to offer guidance, care and resources. When seeking emotional support from people that are close to you, be aware that your friends and family are emotionally connected to you. If they care about you deeply, your distress may cause them distress. Also, they bring their own set of beliefs and points of view to the situation you wish to resolve, and this may present a roadblock to your own recovery. This is not necessarily the case; it very much depends on the situation and the person. Friends can be an enormous support. You just need to be aware that they are not neutral towards the situation.

I had incredible emotional support from one girlfriend in particular. Whilst my husband was in hospital, almost every day, certainly every week dramatic and often traumatic incidences happened. Because he was locked in his body, unable to move  at all, so much started to go wrong with his body. His muscles began to contract wildly causing enormous pain. I was a layperson, without any medical knowledge. I would be given snippets of information from a registrar, then other information from a specialist and yet different info from a nurse. The most disheartening thing was the negativity from many doctors with which I was confronted, causing additional and unnecessary heartache.

Here is one of many incidences. My husband had a tracheostomy[i] as he could not breathe on his own. One day I was told that he could have the tube removed. This, I was informed, involved the physiotherapist slowly weaning him off the tracheostomy tube. The process was started. One morning, the registrar made a point to see me in order to tell me that he thought the removal of the tracheostomy tube was not going well and that I should know that “your husband may never have it removed”. This was extremely distressing as my husband’s transfer from the hospital to the rehabilitation clinic was conditional upon the removal of the tube. Otherwise – where would he go?? The thought of my husband living in an aged care facility at age 42 was too much to bear. No other facility offers rehabilitation such as highly specialised physiotherapy – and with it hope for any future quality of life. I was shattered and devastated by this news that he may never have it removed. Shortly after receiving this news, the physiotherapist informed me that the weaning process was going well. (Weaning refers to the process of learning to breathe without the tube). The tube was removed.

During these distressing times which occurred regularly and frequently over the nearly eight months that my husband was locked into his body I needed someone to talk to about my despair and shattered hope. I had never experienced despair in my life before. My girlfriend was always there to listen with incredible empathy. Not that many people have the gift to offer such a level of empathy. I was fortunate to have such a good friend who showed up for me in such a caring and supportive way.

I would like to share the tools how I personally recovered and healed from my trauma. There are tangible things you can do to address your emotional wounding. Here are 7 signposts to guide your way towards emotional healing and wellbeing.

1. Decide To Be Happy
    You must decide that you really want happiness in your life.

    No-one else can make that decision for you

2. Gratitude
    Appreciate whatever is wonderful in your life, however small, every day.

3. Releasing Resistance
    This is the path to inner freedom. It takes courage & willingness to let go.

4. Accept Where You Are Right Now
    Accept all of your emotions, desires & mistakes– they require no justification.

5. Embrace Your Emotions
    Your emotions are your GPS system into your heart and subconscious

6. Have An Optimistic Attitude Towards Your Life
     An optimistic attitude means that you expect good things to happen to you

7. Forgive Others Who Have Wronged You

     Holding onto blame and anger is detrimental to your wellbeing.

     Feel the hurt or rage when it occurs appropriately to an experience – and then let it go.

 

Every journey starts with its first step. It is much easier to walk a clearly sign-posted path than to stumble aimlessly through the bush. Your emotional healing will not happen overnight but gradually. Please bear in mind that each step that you take does make a difference. Also, remember to seek emotional support. We are social beings interconnected in a tight web with others. Emotional support will ease your process of recovery.

I will be addressing each of these points separately over the coming weeks, so stay tuned.


[i] “A tracheostomy (TRA-ke-OS-to-me) is a surgically made hole that goes through the front of your neck and into your trachea (TRA-ke-ah), or windpipe. The hole is made to help you breathe.”

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/trach/

Why Emotional Healing is crucial to our Wellbeing

True wellbeing is based on several factors. One of the most fundamental and crucial factors to building and maintaining our wellbeing is emotional healing as well as engaging with our emotions. Like the life-giving blood that pumps through everyone’s veins, the desire to be happy and well is shared by all of humanity. It doesn’t matter what gender, age, colour or nationality you are or how much money you have – a desire for happiness is the glue that connects us all.

 

 

We all have this primal longing, it is innate. Yet to achieve emotional healing and to thrive in life is not an easy task. In our modern world we are bombarded with aggression, impatience, pollution, the global financial crisis and environmental destruction. These factors evoke fearful and distressing emotions. We are worried, overworked, stressed, angry, disappointed, maybe even disillusioned and depressed.

Why am I passionate about emotional healing and emotional support? About abundant wellbeing? Because I have experienced a life-crisis that irrevocably changed my life from one moment to the next. At 42 years of age my husband became locked in his body due to illness – imprisoned in his own body for nearly 8 months unable to speak or move, yet intelligently present. I witnessed a level of suffering in my husband that no human being should ever have to endure.

Suffering is the opposite of happiness and wellbeing. I despaired at my inability to alleviate his extreme physical pain. Over time, after his death, this experience of having witnessed unspeakable suffering gave birth in me to a deep-seated desire for wellbeing and happiness – for my family and myself, and also for other people.
It is my heart-felt intention to inspire you to take action towards creating a fulfilling life, a life of thriving and not just coping. I would like to encourage you not to be complacent with a life that is ‘not too bad’. People who undergo a life-crisis often feel a call to grow from the experience, to transform. I’m saying: don’t wait for a crisis to happen until you seek not just an ok life, but an extra-ordinary life. Do it now!

You cannot experience authentic happiness, which comes  from the inside, from being connected to yourself, without engaging with your emotions. We as human beings are emotional beings. Emotions are viewed as ‘airy fairy’ in western society, not real because they are not visible like our bodies or open wounds. But they are very real. In fact, major developments in neuroscience are showing us that our emotions are biologically hardwired. That means there is a biochemical basis to our emotions which affects all of our cells and our entire physiological make-up, including such tangible systems such as the digestive system. Ignoring your emotions is like ignoring the type of food that you eat: you cannot be well and thrive in life if you identify yourself only as an intellectual being and pretend that your emotions don’t exist or don’t matter. That’s like pretending that junk food is good for you and that it has good nutritional value. Wellbeing is dependent on emotional wellbeing. This is the natural consequence of the role emotions play in our lives – both biochemically and on the level of experience.

I will write about mirror neurons soon, which are an amazing recent discovery in neuroscience. They are another proof that our emotions are part of our physiological make-up and don’t only exist in the realm of ‘intangible feelings’. What neuroscience teaches us is that our emotions and the beliefs that trigger those emotions are central to our emotional healing and wellbeing.

What is Emotional Healing?

We are multifaceted beings with many different parts that make up who we are. When these different parts – which come in many different shapes and sizes – are all whole, working together in unison, we have a life filled with abundant wellbeing and vibrant emotional health.

However, as a result of our life experiences such as loss, abuse, abandonment, ill health, injustice and relationship breakdown some parts of ourselves crack or break.

 

These wounded, shattered parts cause us deep emotional pain. And even if we ignore them, these broken parts continue to exist in our bodies. Emotional wounding is exactly the same as physical wounding, with the same consequences as a gaping physical wound that is left untreated and does not heal.

 

Neuroscience shows us that our emotions and thoughts directly influence our bodies and our physiological functioning. They call this ‘neurobiofeedback’. This means that our emotions cause chemical reactions throughout our entire body system.

In her groundbreaking book Molecules of Emotion. The Science behind Mind-Body Medicine’ (Scribner 1997), scientist Candace Pert explains in detail how our emotions influence all regulatory systems in our body. The chemicals inside our bodies are the biological language of our emotions. These chemicals form a dynamic network that reaches every cell of our bodies, thereby linking mind and body into one dynamic interconnected system.

Emotional healing requires us to get actively involved in our wellbeing.  We need to pick up our shattered pieces and re-build something new in its place. This is daunting and scary, yet it may also present an opportunity for us to grow as a person and to create something with intent that we have thought about.  We are the author of our wellbeing, and we get the chance to re-write the story.

Emotional healing means to attend to our emotional wounds, to care for ourselves lovingly and with compassion. To pick up the pieces and to make sense of what happened to us. To give our emotional health the same amount of input and attention as our physical heath and other aspects of our lives.