Making Space for Emotion
Updated: Dec 9, 2022
Photo: Robert Harding
I’m currently on Dartmoor, in the south west of England, where the weather systems shift and change more in a day than anywhere else I know. It's not uncommon to start the morning in sunshine, only for the day to shift into mist or even snow. By the afternoon the hills could be bathed in sunshine again...or caught in the kind of torrential downpour that feels as though it’s settling in for a week.
It got me thinking about the way that our emotions are meant to flow like these Dartmoor weather patterns, and how often they become stuck or fixed instead. If we haven’t been allowed our proper feelings as a child, we can grow up distrustful of the world of emotion, perceiving it as threatening in some way, likely to overwhelm us or lead to trouble. As a result, we can either numb ourselves to feeling, or become over-focussed on what we feel. Often, there might be a fluctuation between the two.
A mood can hang around in us like a major weather front that takes days to pass. We can walk through life holding up our hurt or our loneliness in front of us like a begging bowl, longing, perhaps unconsciously, for someone to notice our pain.
If somebody harms us, we might deny that we feel anything at all or, at the other extreme, we punish that person for days, withdrawing into our cave of silence for a prolonged period, holding vigil for some wounded part of ourselves far beyond what is necessary.
Our emotions, like weather, are designed to pass through. When the rain comes, it waters the landscape, bringing new life and refreshment. But if it lingers for too long, the landscape becomes sodden. The rain ceases to be life giving. The ground of being is awash, and our emotions start to pool and stagnate.
What these emotions are asking for is that we notice them, attend to them, feel them deeply in the body, if only for and instant. And once we have attended to them, we allow them to pass through to be replaced by something else...which in turn will be replaced...and thus the cycle of feeling can start to flow more naturally and be experienced as something life sustaining once more.
© The Art of Embodiment 2022 . . . #trauma #traumahealing #traumarecovery #therapy #nervoussystemregulation #AdverseChildhoodExperiences #selflove #traumatherapy #somaticexperiencing #psychology #cptsdawareness #Dartmoor