Life is busy. So much to do, so little time. So much time spent prioritising the things that we think are important and relegating the things that perhaps seem less so. In our fast-paced lives, slowing down, taking time to notice how we are truly feeling is often ignored, numbed, or pushed down in the hope that it will somehow vanish. And society has been very good at teaching us and valuing how to block and avoid working with feelings. Think about it, screen time, prescription drug use, mantras like “it’s ok, I’ll be fine” or “get a grip”.
Psychological distress is often exhibited in physical symptoms
Ignoring your feelings may work for a while; but feelings tend to build up and as the expression goes: “The sorrow which has no vent in tears my make another organ weep”. (Henry Maudsley). Feelings and emotions hang around, needing expression, needing to be felt, and when you keep pushing them away your mind and your body find ways to express them differently. In this way then, your psychological distress is often exhibited in physical symptoms. Think about headaches, migraines, insomnia, some autoimmune disorders.
If you have trouble expressing or regulating your emotions, talking to a mental health professional is a good first step. Your thoughts and feelings are valid. You have every right to feel whatever you feel. You aren’t exaggerating. You aren’t being too sensitive. You aren’t being dramatic.
Therapists are trained in being able to unwrap stories to find their hidden power and meaning.
Reach out for help if things seem too much. If you have trouble finding the words for what you are thinking or feeling, I encourage you to talk to a therapist. Having a more detailed and meaningful picture and words to describe your experiences, can help you find more successful ways to manage your feelings. Therapists are trained in being able to unwrap stories to find their hidden power and meaning.
The western world favours cognitive approaches to solving emotional difficulties. This isn’t a bad thing, but it’s important to know it isn’t the only approach. Today, most therapists incorporate a variety of approaches into their work such as: Breath work, mindfulness, meditation, EFT, journaling etc. Whatever the modality, it is about finding the one that works best for you. Learning to experience your feelings fully and expressing them in ways that are adaptive and healthy is a lifelong process but one which allows for more positive outcomes.
“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” — Brene Brown