Nearly all mental health issues arise from difficulties with emotional awareness and regulation. Therefore, understanding and making space for our emotions is critical to our overall wellbeing.
As humans, we are built for emotion and emotional connection with others. Having unencumbered access to our feelings, fears, and desires helps us develop a sense of ourselves, directs our actions, aids in decision making, motivates us, and helps us navigate relationships. When our ability to be in touch with our emotions has been jeopardized, it's like we're sailing through life without a rudder. In contrast, those who are aware of their feelings, experience them freely, reflect on them, and express them constructively, are happier, healthier, and more successful than those who do not have such abilities.
An emotion is defined as "a complex psychological state that involves three distinct components: a subjective experience, a physiological experience, and behavioral or expressive response" (Hockenbury & Hockenbury, 2007). This means that we experience an emotion in our own, personal way; that this emotion activates a physical response that we can feel in our body; and that these experiences together create an impulse to act in a specific way. For example, a mother feels joy when looking at her newborn baby. She may experience this in a personal way related to her perceptions of motherhood. She might feel a sensation of warmth and an opening in her chest, and may have the impulse to reach out and embrace the baby. These three experiences are all related to connecting with the emotion of joy.
Difficulties arise when we have learned in one way or another to avoid our emotions. Without the ability to be in touch with this internal guidance system, mental health symptoms such as anxiety and depression being to increase. In fact, even chronic pain and unexplained medical symptoms have been found to arise from emotional causes. Whether we are aware of our feelings or not, there is much research to suggest that our behavior and decisions are heavily influenced by our emotions.
To gain a greater awareness and understanding of your emotions, contact me for a free consultation.