Let’s start by exploring a basic understanding of emotions that will likely be dramatically different than what you have believed up to this point. What we think of as emotion is the experience of energy moving through the body. This is generally felt as sensations of contraction such as tension or expansion such as calm. The Latin derivative for the word emotion, ‘emotere’, literally means energy in motion.
In itself, emotional energy is neutral. It is the feeling sensation and physiological reaction that makes a specific emotion positive or negative. Feeling is what you label as anger, sadness, joy or fear. It is then your interpretations or thoughts about emotional energy that give it meaning. Emotion serves as the carrier waves for the entire spectrum of feelings. Understanding emotions are energy implies that they are fluid, moving resources meant to be felt and released vs. suppressed and ignored. The latter is the true culprit of low emotional intelligence and stress burnout.
Given the understanding that emotion is actually energy in motion it is important to distinguish what it looks and feels like to increase your emotional awareness. Most people believe this looks like using their thinking mind to analyze, think about and talk about how they feel. Although this approach can bring initial awareness it is not effective in the long run. It is common from this approach to hinder the process of expressing and managing emotions. In doing so, it keeps the process of expression at the level of thought vs. actual feeling or energy movement. In order to successfully express emotion you have to move your emotional energy by identifying the sensations and releasing states of contraction.
The process of expressing your emotional energy involves tuning into your body sensations. It is powerful, dynamic and enlivening. If you sink your awareness into your sensations they will begin to reveal what is going on beneath the surface. These sensations may include tense, tingly, light, heavy, soft, smooth, hot, cold, rumbling, or pressure just to name a few. They will intelligently and organically guide you into releasing any unresolved stress and bring you into greater homeostasis. As you move from contraction to expansion you will typically feel lighter, calmer or relieved while opening the door to lasting happiness. When you allow yourself to ride the emotional wave of these sensations you will regain homeostasis and gain benefits found in the rest of your mind and body.
Hilary Stokes Ph.D. and Kim Ward Ph.D. have been a team for 20 years, specializing in mind, body, spirit psychology. They are the authors of the bestselling books The Happy Map: Your roadmap to the habit of happiness and Manifesting Mindset: The 6-step formula for attracting your goals and dreams and founders of Authenticity Associates Coaching and Counseling. They are passionate about combining the best of holistic and traditional approaches to health and happiness. If you are interested in learning the answers to the most frequently asked questions on how to decrease stress and increase happiness sign up for their free video series.