How to connect with your feelings – more on self regualtion.

There is no one minute a day that we do not experience them. Our bodies register them all the time. Why, then, do we know so little about them and are usually puzzled about how to regulate them?

Emotional regulation is not an easy topic, but it is very needed when there is little time for relaxation and staying in one's comfort zone.

We are constantly told to be productive and fast, react immediately, and stay calm. In practice, that means we are bottling or suppressing our feelings.

But what is this scary dragon we call feeling? The feeling is an emotional state or reaction.

Why do we have feelings? Feelings are a natural mechanism our body possesses that lets us know whether something is right or not. They are like a warning/feedback system given by nature to keep us alive and healthy.

The difficulty with understanding feelings creates myths:

1. Feelings come for no good reason.

Feelings come from reactions to the outside environment or inside reality. For example, if I suddenly feel anxious, it is because something in my environment proves dangerous or there are needs in my body I am not satisfied with.

2. Feelings are so powerful that they can hurt or kill us.

We all heard about people with broken hearts who die of heart attacks. In reality, it is not possible to be hurt by your feelings. As uncomfortable as they are, they cannot inflict more pain or stress than we impose on ourselves.

3. You cannot control your feelings. We cannot prevent the appearance of our feelings, but we can control how we act under their influence.

4. We cannot express feelings in words; some are very difficult to express, but we can use analogies and metaphors to work with them.

5. People should have different feelings. If feelings are like the warning-feedback system, having different feelings from the ones we have would mean we override essential information that could improve our well-being.

How many primary feelings do we have?

Fear, joy, anger, shame, and sadness.

From my professional experience, all the big and complicated feelings could be reduced to those five.

To work on emotional regulation, we need to meet and understand feelings. We need to go back to basics.

We need to answer some questions: What are my feelings' characteristics? What is their function? Where are the feelings in my body? How do I deal with them?

Many clients need clarification on these questions since no one teaches us about those topics.

Let's look into fear for a moment.

What is the function of fear? Fear lets us know that our needs are not being satisfied or cannot be satisfied in the future. We feel fear when something threatens our physical health, self–esteem, or well–being in the present and future.

Example: I have a public speaking event, and I feel fear. My need for admiration and safety might not be met when I flop the talk, and my boss will be unhappy with me, resulting in a lack of promotion, less money, and so on.

Where is fear in my body? Clients usually describe fear as a heavy, hot feeling in the chest and stomach. The feeling might be tight and suffocating. Fear can travel to the shoulders, neck, and back.

What does happen in my body when I am scared? Because the body prepares for fight or flight, the heart beats faster to pump blood away from internal organs to muscles. For the same reason, we breathe faster. We can feel hot or freezing. Our muscles become tense in preparation for danger. The part of the brain responsible for rational and analytical thinking switches off. We cannot think or work. Since blood is directed from our internal organs, we might feel nauseous, and our digestion is affected. We can experience diarrhoea or constipation.

How do I deal with fear? Fear is a hot feeling the sympathetic nervous system activates to prepare us for fight, flight, or freeze. To work with fear, we need to slow our bodies down. Activities that relax the body and slow the heartbeat would be the most helpful: meditation, yoga, stretching, reading a book, essential oils, white noise, hot baths, etc.

Your turn!

Think about joy, anger, shame, and sadness.

What is the function of …?

Where is … in my body?

What does happen in my body when I am …?

How do we deal with ….?