Unlocking the Language of Emotion

By: Terri Hayes

Did you know that each emotion manifests itself in your body? Some of us are so in our heads, we struggle to note what is going on in our body and all we experience is a thought process.  

I was a skilled emotion shunner. I traced this behavior back to my childhood and I can remember distinct times where it was even a conscious decision. “Ain’t got no time for that” was my mantra when it came to emotions I didn’t want to face or deal with. It pains me some to realize now that acknowledging them more would have saved so much time and grief for not only me, but others in my life.  

When confronted with unpleasant emotions, various responses may emerge: 

  • Resist – This is akin to attempting to submerge a large beach ball underwater. You might achieve success temporarily, but it becomes a continual struggle, and inevitably, the ball resurfaces. The “resurfacing” doesn’t always manifest as an external loss of control; it can also materialize as discomfort or dis-ease within the body. 
  • React – Expressing emotions through actions like yelling, screaming, crying, eye-rolling, throwing objects, or even physically venting by punching a wall. It’s a misconception that reacting in this way equals processing an emotion, and that’s why some opt to resist or avoid, fearing a perceived loss of control. 
  • Avoid – We distract ourselves through activities like eating, drinking, scrolling social media, shopping, overworking (or overindulging in anything, for that matter), gaming, porn, and even engaging in behaviors like cleaning and exercise as ways to sidestep emotions. While most of these activities aren’t inherently negative, using them as a means to evade emotions can result in an overall adverse impact on our lives. 
  • Allow – Embracing emotions involves more than mere acknowledgment; it entails naming the emotion and then cultivating curiosity about how it physically manifests within us. Developing this skill is valuable and worth the effort, particularly for those proficient in the habits of resisting, reacting, or avoiding. It’s a practice that involves dedication and patience. 

It took me months to really grasp the art of allowing emotions. Many times, I felt like I just wasn’t ‘getting it,’ but looking back, I realized the process was unfolding all along. To my fellow left-brainers, patience is key! Everyone experiences emotions uniquely, so I stopped comparing my journey to others. What truly matters is discovering your own emotional navigation style. Through working with clients and observing numerous coaching sessions, a consistent pattern emerged – uncomfortable emotions often translate into a sense of closed or tightness, maybe even a ‘sinking’ feeling. On the flip side, emotions we enjoy tend to open us up, creating a sense of expansiveness. A good starting point is asking yourself: Do I feel tight/heavy/closed off, or do I feel free/expansive/open? And don’t forget, neutrality can find a comfortable place between those extremes. 

So, how can one start practicing to truly feel emotions in the body and allow every feeling? Here are a few approaches to get you started: 

Close your eyes and say and think about the word “love” or think of something that brings you joy, then pay attention to what happens in your body. For me, I have a very expansive feeling in my chest. Kind of like one of those fountain fireworks where the beautiful sparks emanate from the base and bloom upward and outward. It’s warm and unfurling. It may be similar for you, or you may feel or sense things in other parts of your body. Now, close your eyes and say and think about the word “hate” or think of a time you felt shamed. What’s going on in your body now? For me, I feel a tightness in my chest. Often, I envision a heavy object like a lead pipe sitting vertical alongside my sternum; or a heavy rock lodged in my chest or throat area.  

Another activity is to name an emotion, then do a body scan while continuing to name and think of the emotion. Experience what happens in your body. These are actual vibrations, sensations, tingles, movements, colors, in your body, not just thoughts.  

This process mirrors learning a new language. It calls for time, patience, and a genuine willingness to be vulnerable and honest with oneself. Embrace mistakes with a light-hearted attitude, treating them as valuable lessons rather than failures. 

There are no good or bad emotions. Our bodies are designed to experience every emotion and process them. Emotions serve as information; they are the messengers. Emotions aren’t obstacles; they are the path. 

If you’re ready to begin unlocking the language of your emotions and embracing every feeling, I’m here to guide you. Book a call with me, and together, let’s navigate the path to a deeper understanding of yourself and your emotions. It’s a transformative adventure worth taking! 

Join the discussing and leave a comment below 😊. 

High Five! 

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