We easily get caught up in our emotions in the heat of the moment. And, in those moments, we aren’t usually self-aware of how those emotions are “showing up” within our body. Taking the time to identify what you’re feeling can help you to better cope with challenging situations. And, by doing a “body scan,” assessing head to toe how your body is responding to those emotions, is key to regaining body control. How often have you seen fists fly in a fit of anger? I know I have. Body language, facial expressions, and demeanor give away so much information without a word needing to be spoken.
I thought I would dive a bit more into feelings, as May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Last week, I shared a post about how we, as a society, need to change the mental health conversation, to remove the stigma surrounding it.
According to this research article, people who are good at being specific about identifying (and labeling) their emotions are less likely to binge drink, be physically aggressive, or self-injure when distressed. Also, when school-aged kids are taught about emotions for 20-30 minutes per week, their social behavior and school performance improve, according to this abstract. And, considering the English language has over 3,000 words for emotions, there should never be a shortage of feeling words to express how we’re feeling.
Tips for Owning Your Feelings
Allow yourself to feel.We’ve all heard the expressions, “big girls don’t cry,” or “man up.” My favorite and the one I heard (and you likely did, too): “If you want to cry, I’ll give you something to cry about.” These outdated phrases are not helpful. Everyone has emotions – they are part of the human experience. We have every right to feel what we’re feeling, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, socio-economic status, race, political affiliation, or religion.
Don’t ignore how you’re feeling. Many of us tend to “bottle up” our feelings. We push them aside, doing our best to disregard and ignore them. Until we can’t contain them any longer, and we either “implode” or “explode.” When we “implode,” our bodies take that held emotional energy, and it comes out in the form of health issues: migraines, high blood pressure, bowel issues, body aches, etc.. I think we all know what happens when we explode. Usually, those closest to us suffer the consequences of “exploding” with angry outbursts, passive-aggressive behavior, manipulation, etc..
Talk it out. Finding a “heart with ears” to share how you’re feeling can be a great outlet. But, not everyone is a fit for that title. Because, often, people either want to rush to solve the problem or share their own experience. The perfect “heart with ears” for you is someone who doesn’t necessarily have skin in the game. Because most of us do not come out of the womb full of emotional knowledge and we do not receive a formal education in knowing how to communicate, it’s even more critical we learn these skills (and then teach them to our children).
Build your emotional vocabulary. The familiar words we use to express ourselves are: mad, sad, bad, good, or the most common – fine. However, there are even better words to describe how we feel. Try building your feeling vocabulary by writing down as many “feeling” words as you can think of and time you felt that way. These feeling words are a list you can refer to when talking about feelings with your children.
Try journaling. Each night, write down at least three feelings you had throughout the day and what caused them. It doesn’t have to be pages and pages of writing; just a few sentences to help you feel comfortable with identifying and expressing your emotions.
Consider the strength of your feelings. If you think about how intense your feelings are, ask yourself if there is a more descriptive word. For example, if you’re feeling stressed, what you may be feeling is annoyed. Or, if you are feeling angry, alternatively, the more profound emotion may be a feeling of betrayal.
See a mental health professional. If you are taking steps to get more in touch with your feelings, but are having trouble dealing with them, it is best to ask a professional for help. If you don’t, we go back to the idea that you either implode or explode. You may resort to STERBs (short-term energy relieving behavior) such as exercise, shopping, gambling, drinking, anger, food, etc.. Besides, seeking help is better, too, than the alternative of imploding with health issues.
Grief is at the heart of many emotional issues. I feel like a broken record sometimes. However, because grief occurs in the context of relationships, and if, within those relationships, we haven’t addressed our internal emotional map “stuff,” we will not have the self-awareness we need to maintain healthy relationships with effective communication. Grief recovery not only provides an education, but it helps lay the foundation for emotional self-awareness. And then, the program takes it one step further by providing you with new tools to process those emotions.
If you want to dive deep into your emotional landscape, or if there’s a relationship that holds so much emotional charge in your life that it impacts every aspect of your life, I encourage you to work with me online. I have a few spots open to help hurting hearts feel better.
P.S. If you feel like you are struggling with your mental health, check your symptoms with the Mental Health Screening Tool available HERE.
P.P.S. To inquire about working with me, email me at victoria [at] theunleashedheart [dot] com or call me at 701.336.7720.
Download a FREE Feelings Chart
Utilize this free feelings chart to go along with this blog post for your convenience. I wanted to make it as easy as possible to make this information actionable. Click the button below for an immediate download.
We all have that thing; a horrible experience, a needling feeling in our heart, a painful itch you can’t ever seem to scratch.
If you took a drone and hovered it over your life, it might look like days not showering, angry outbursts toward loved ones; hours spent binge-watching reality tv, or hours lying in bed – your mind filled with worry, anxiousness, or fear.
It might also look like “productivity:” hours of exercise, baking, reading fantasy, getting a new pet (which requires countless hours of training), obsessive cleaning/organizing, etc..
Emotional dis-ease manifests differently in our lives for every one of us.
For me, it looked like a mom who felt anxious daily; frazzled and torn between obligation, responsibility and what my heart truly needed – healing. As a parent, I know the struggle with the relationship to time to not only be there for those around you but also create time and space for yourself to look inward.
I feel like there is a massive gap in our culture of self-work and the obligations of being a parent. How do we bridge that gap? How do we create the time and space our hearts need when we’re bombarded by life daily?
Back in 2014, things were coming to a head for me. I was faced with this very dilemma of wanting to figure my shit out so I could finally be content with myself and my life and compartmentalizing all of that so I could be present for my children.
I look back on that time now, and I know I wasn’t present. I know there are gaps in my memory that go far back to my childhood. Whether there are blocks of time I’ve consciously or subconsciously blocked out from my awareness (even as an adult), I’ve yet to discover; however, it’s what I’m currently exploring.
Trauma has a way of creeping up on us after the fact. Often, we don’t recognize it as such either. Instead, it manifests in ways I’ve previously described. But it’s there, like an undercurrent of a flowing river, just going along until it finds its way out. Eventually, it does find a way out.
Making Time and Creating Space for Healing
Self-healing is like peeling back the layers of an onion. Every time we remove one layer, another emerges. Unprocessed emotions have a way of making their presence known when we least expect them to appear, too. We must find a way and the time, even if it means going away for an overnight one day per month. That’s where a program, based on a time-frame was most beneficial for me. I could leave my obligations and responsibilities behind, so I could focus on healing and healing alone. It took years to make it a priority for myself. But, I do feel that what I needed, found its way to me in perfect timing. All the stuff I did leading up to it, stacked up, preparing me for what was to come. So, never discount the little actions, the small things you do daily to nurture healing. It’s often the micro-actions that build the foundation for major emotional shifts and breakthroughs.
The One Thing that Changed My Life
The one thing that has changed my life, above anything else, was beginning to peel back the onion and doing the inner work. Layer by layer, I’m discovering where my heart and soul need healing (even now; it’s a work-in-progress without an “I’ve arrived” date).
Our best selves go into hiding when our brains use logic to make sense of emotionally dangerous situations. All the while, our hearts put up a wall and armor up to the world around us.
Self-discovery is a marathon. There’s no one way to awareness and enlightenment. However, just like in training for a marathon, we are required to take action. And not just action for the sake of taking action. I’m talking intentional and intuitive, hearts-desire action.
I’m partial to The Grief Recovery Method; however, I know it’s the only way. Do I feel it’s the best way to get a good start on your “heart onion?” Absolutely. It’s a guided and safe process that creates a massive dent in the emotional dis-ease we all carry in a set timeframe (i.e. there is something to look forward to – there is hope). Combining it with conventional therapy (which isn’t a requirement) is an even better scenario, depending on your situation. But, I also rely on other means of doing my own “heart-onion” work, too. Reiki has been the hands around my heart, offering support exactly where I need it, as I work through processing the emotional gunk.
And here’s the thing, my gut intuition and a deep desire to live my best life has led to this post I’m writing today. If someone would have told me in 2014 when I was sitting at my kitchen table, not having showered for three days, pouring over self-help content for hours – that I’d be where I’m at today. I would have said, “Amen, Hallelujah – there is hope.”
My Wish for You Today
If you receive anything from today’s blog post, my goal is that you feel a sense of hope come wash over you. Use hope as your guide-post, affirming that better days are ahead. Allow hope to take root in the deepest crevice of your heart today and allow it to lift your spirits.
This is Easter weekend and nothing about it neither looks nor feels like Easter – on television, anyway. So, for the weekend, tune out the television and tune into your heart. Take in the songs of the birds, the smell of orchids, and the sights of new life. And, take a moment to look into your heart; asking God, the Archangels, or universe (whomever you choose) to guide you to whatever it is your heart is calling you to heal using whatever methods feel good to you.
Never lose hope; it is the one thing that keeps, at very least, one foot out of despair.
Sending you so much love and many blessings this Easter weekend.
There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. – Anais Nin
P.S. Begining mid-May, I will be certified as an advanced grief recovery method specialist. This will enable me to offer grief recovery one-on-one to anyone, anywhere. If you would like to be in the loop as to when this becomes available (and other applicable info), enter your details HERE. You will also be given the option to receive my weekly newsletter, where I include all news, promotions, and content not shared anywhere else.
Several months ago, I was sitting in rooms filled with social workers. I decided to attend the Veterans Administration Mental Health Summit, where I had a booth for my grief recovery work. I also had the opportunity to sit in on the presentations. One speaker was talking about suicide prevention. A psychiatrist gave another presentation within the VA who talked about EMDR and other “evidence-based” treatments. The most moving presentations were by veterans themselves who had attempted suicide. Sitting at a table with at least six others (all social workers), I was the only one moved to tears. One woman was on her phone during one veteran’s heart-wrenching account of his story. I don’t know what was pressing at the moment that she thought was more important; however, it spoke volumes to me – no disrespect to social workers. My observation was that, without being a veteran with a similar experience, they resort to what they know and their personal experience.
I still remember the defeated feeling I felt when I left. I remember feeling as though the only way I could help veterans, the way they deserved (within the VA healthcare system and at no cost to them) was to go to college and become a licensed social worker. But, I thought to myself: “I already have this fantastic program available to me that is ‘evidence-based;’ why does it feel like I’m climbing Mt. Everest?” To me, I just needed the right person to hear me out. But that wasn’t happening. Even when I thought I had finally made some progress in a conversation, I only received more discouragement.
Working my way into the VA system, which would allow me to serve the veteran community (while still having a business), has been met with hope and heaps more resistance. Most, who I’ve spoken with, have been open to hearing what I have to say, wish they could help, but then smacked me with the reality that the VA system just doesn’t play nicely with “unlicensed” folk (in not those exact words).
Well, had I listened to all the naysayers, those who said it likely couldn’t be done, I would’ve quit when yet another door was closed in front of me. I wouldn’t be writing this post right now. I would have stopped when given the tenth or fifteenth “good luck.”
What I think we (more often than not) do to ourselves, and what all of those who I spoke with don’t know or realize, is they were placing their limitations on me. And, for a time, I allowed it. I was feeling defeated. I was wondering if this bigger picture vision I’d been holding for myself this entire past year was going to fade into the background of my life. And, not only crush my spirit but become yet another “thing,” I tried.
Fast-forward to a week ago, after over a month of hoop-jumping, I received my “approved” status to work as a contractor for the federal government (i.e., that would include the VA). I don’t know the impact this will have on my business (or my life), but I feel like it’s a massive leap of hope forward. And I do feel like it’s another step in fulfilling a higher purpose in my life. This accomplishment feels enormous to me; in ways, I don’t yet know myself. I have no doubt, I will have more hoops to jump through; however, this hurdle was a big one.
We lie to ourselves – all the damn time. We believe the crap-stories we tell ourselves. We get stuck around the axel of “I can’t(s)” and “It’s going to be painful” and “life sucks” or whatever other garbage we hold onto like a storage tank.
My mentor Lois said it best: “Would you rather be a processing plant or a storage tank?”
It starts with the lies we tell ourselves. That, it’s more comfortable being a storage tank. That, the pain is far more comfortable (and more familiar) than what it takes to get on the other side.
The inspiration for the title of this blog post comes from a quote I read in a book I just started reading. And I believe it to be true.
The greatest sources of our suffering are the lies we tell ourselves. – Elvin Semrad
What lies are you telling yourself that you believe these days? What are you taking in as truth from someone else? Because it may feel right to them, but that doesn’t mean it is going to be right for you. Here is where compassion enters the room.
We see the world through the lens of our own experience. Grief recovery has taught me that, although trauma changes us through and through, it doesn’t have to be the only story we are capable of believing. To me, there’s always hope. Grief recovery gave me that, not just in addressing my trauma, but in every facet of my life, as I’ve shared with you today.
Seven months after becoming certified by The Grief Recovery Institute as a grief recovery method specialist, I felt a pull to become Usui Holy Fire Reiki Certified. I had never personally experienced reiki, but it just kept showing up in my life in conversation and things I would come across online. It’s like when you want a red corvette, and suddenly, red corvettes start popping up everywhere. Only with this, I didn’t know I needed it, or why – it just kept showing up in my life. So, I followed that calling, and I am happy I listened to the “whispers.” Read all about reiki HERE.
What Reiki Has Done for Me
My Usui Holy Fire Levels I & II training was pretty bizarre and transformational. It actually unlocked some old trauma (to my surprise) that I was later able to process using the grief recovery method. Last year became my year of emotional transformation and healing. Everything I had been silently working through in isolation since 2014 came to the surface after I went through grief recovery. Reiki has enabled me to ground myself in the present (which, as an enneagram 7 is not my strong suit) and ease my, sometimes, frantic energy. I can find it easy to be hyper-focused one day (often forgetting to eat), to times of abundant anxious energy where it’s impossible to focus (which has been the situation as of late). Reiki has been my saving grace when I’m feeling energetically out-of-balance. Lately, I’ve been combining it with meditation and recently experienced some emotional release (which is truly hard to explain).
Still, even months later, after conducting reiki sessions for others and myself, I find it hard to explain. Which, I should be able to explain it, right? How can energy be moved with someone else’s hands? Why do my hands get warm and tingly? Why do I sometimes literally feel certain aches/pains during a reiki session? How do I know an issue existed in the body without being told in advance? I do have a form that gets filled out before a session, where the client shares areas of focus or issues they’re having. However, I almost prefer to go into a session blindly. Trusting myself (and my intuition) has been the one thing I’ve had to learn to….well, trust, as a reiki practitioner. It’s easy to doubt yourself with anything new.
There isn’t anything required of me during a session, other than my intention to bring the client healing and fill the body with love and compassion energy. By itself, reiki gives you precisely what you need. I’m simply the conduit.
Reiki’s done wonderful things for me, including boosting my immune system, which served me well this winter when my entire household got sick, and I didn’t. Fingers crossed it comes to my defense against the coronavirus as well. As of late, I have been giving myself reiki daily. When my family members ask, I provide them with reiki as well.
Giving reiki in-person is my preference; however, I learned a valuable (and powerful) lesson during my certification training. In an exercise with a partner, we were to give reiki to someone the partner chose, and the only information we were given was their name. What came up for me, and what I shared with my partner, was spot on, according to her, for her distant spouse. So, remote reiki sessions are just as effective as in-person, and that exercise proved that for me. And trust me when I say, my skeptic antenna was high on alert – going into my certification and throughout, that is, until I experienced it.
I’ve experienced spot-on moments since certification. I’m telling you, it never ceases to amaze me and, I am dumbfounded after every session. I feel incredibly blessed to be given the opportunity to help others in this way, too. When young children, who naturally don’t have filters and generally don’t lie, ask for reiki because “it makes them feel better [than they did before]” and for a boy to request it, too, to boot – I know I have something unique to offer.
So, you may be wondering what a distant session entails. Here is a distant session in a nutshell:
Because I care to see who I am working with, we will meet over Zoom. We will discuss the online form you fill out prior. I’ll answer any questions you have and go over what to expect during the session.
You find a relaxing space to either lie down or sit comfortably in a chair during the allotted session time.
We will meet up again, on Zoom, after the session to go over what you experienced. I’ll also cover what came up for me during your session and discuss follow-up.
That’s it, and, either way, you get to relax. 🙂 Sounds pretty painless, right? And this is where technology is a beautiful thing! If you would like to take advantage of this quarantine time by making you a priority (and your emotional and energetic well-being), I encourage you to take a look at my schedule HERE. For the remainder of March, I am offering 60-minute reiki sessions at a discounted rate. And, because my evening schedule has significantly been freed up due to no school or school activities, I have a lot more time on my hot hands (pun intended). ;P If you don’t see a time that works for you (due to time zone, etc.), please reach out to me via email at victoria [at] theunleashedheart [dot] com.
Tend to your physical and emotional wellness these quarantined days, friend. Don’t forget, nature hasn’t been canceled! 😉
Sending you all the reiki love and compassion energy…
I had an entirely different blog post previously ready for today. However, given the circumstances with Covid-19 (a.k.a. [dumb] Corona Virus), I felt this post was a priority.
Fear is a valid emotion. And, it is one that just so happens to, at times, keep us alive. Fear is what makes us run when we’re being chased, protect ourselves when our safety is in danger, and act when fear wells up in us in an emergency.
However, what happens when fear is an emotional response rather than one that’s a matter of safety? What is the difference?
When I think about how my body responds to fear of doing something new (like publishing my book) or to danger, there is a difference. When faced with a decision that makes me feel fearful, I tend to feel it as anxiety. I will have nervous energy, lack of focus, and an inability to act in a way that creates momentum (i.e., I tend to procrastinate). However, when I’ve been faced with a situation that made me feel like I was in danger (for example, realizing I was being followed as I walked the streets of Austin, TX), that fear was different than the fear felt from doing something new/scary. This fear had me evaluating my surroundings, thinking through scenarios, and looking for someone to help me feel safe.
I’ve been pondering fear for the past few days. What do you think? Do you agree that fear, from an emotional state, provokes a different response than that fear that originates from danger? Do you think the body’s response is similar or different?
Regardless, fear is a valid feeling; it serves a purpose for humanity. It is one thing that we have in common with the animal world, too. In regards to Covid-19, the response has been more of an emotional one for me. I have not found myself feeling fearful for my health or that of my spouse or children. However, I have found myself feeling concerned for my mom, in-laws, and others in my community.
We’re seeing both of these fear responses now. Some individuals can’t see loved ones who are quarantined (with or without symptoms) who may have other life-threatening conditions already. So, imagine the fear of losing a loved one who you can’t see, hug, or touch, all the while knowing there’s a possibility they may pass away? Do you think they are experiencing grief?
Or, how about the woman who has an immunocompromised child? Knowing her child has been close to death before with common, known illnesses, and there’s now this unknown viral infection that’s already taking lives? Do you think you would be a fearful mother, too? Do you think you would maybe react out of fear, also, when non-worried folks are downplaying what is unknown to all of us?
And, I think that’s where the fear is originating. This thing arrived in our backyards unknown. It’s wreaking havoc on our way of life, finances, our emotions, how we live and work, and how we interact with others. For example, a family member works in Target, and somehow it’s their fault that the shelves are empty of toilet paper. This “TP-Gate” still doesn’t make much sense to me as diarrhea is not one of the common symptoms, and the majority of our toilet paper in the states comes from within the U.S. Also, can you imagine being a mother of a baby and not being able to find wipes? I also cannot imagine working in a nursing home these days and running out of toilet paper. I have worked as a certified nursing assistant and seriously, bless the hearts of those who work in the medical field now. They risk their health for a paycheck, perhaps, even their own life if they have underlying conditions.
So, how about we start looking at this thing differently. I imagine it’s going to be sticking around for a while. Emotions are already running high, stress/issues with finances, health, parenting, and then some looms over all of our heads. So, how about we at least try to lead with love? Before striking back out of emotional fear, stop, and think. There are already copious amounts of grief in our society. This situation is bound to only add to it for many. Think beyond your immediate bubble for a moment. Zoom out to the bigger picture, and all of the possible scenarios already playing out in other people’s lives. Because, when we only think from our bubbles, we’re missing the opportunity to lead with love. Instead, extend some grace to the stressed employee at Target. Offer support to the single mother who has no choice but to be home with her kids, sick or not because schools are closed, and without a paycheck. Be a listening ear for the man who can’t see his quarantined, dying mother who is on hospice.
We all carry grief in some form and Covid-19 is definitely creating more of that. My daughter is quite sad (and angry) that her first year of playing volleyball has come to an abrupt end. Those in quarantine, who are already potentially isolating grievers, may experience an even more significant impact on their mental health. And, those who can’t say goodbye to a dying loved one, in person, will undoubtedly experience grief beyond measure. Children will miss their classmates and learning environment. Teachers, coaches, athletes, actors/actresses, and then some, won’t be able to participate and share their passion with others. These experiences, too, will cause grief.
On a personal note, The Grief Recovery Institute has put out the recommendation not to conduct support groups or one-on-one programs until further notice. For those who rely on this profession full-time, or in any profession that is reliant on in-person work, they’re bound to feel the sting to their finances, as well as the sadness that accompanies the fact that they’re not able to help/serve others.
This virus is far-reaching than the illness itself and, I think this week, that fact settled into the forefront of our minds. I think we would all agree, too, that this thing can’t be in our rearview soon enough.
In the meantime, let’s set the intention at the start of our day to let love lead the way. Send out, energetically, healing, and love to your loved ones, community, state, country, and world. Let’s step up our self-care and make our personal mental health a priority. Limiting news exposure, purposefully not tuning in, or logging on; only checking credible sources long enough to stay informed, would greatly contribute to our mental health as well.
I am sending you and yours, my love. I pray this thing leaves us sooner rather than later and quickly becomes a bad memory (from which we all learn something).
To love leading the way…
P.S. In case you didn’t know, Reiki boosts immunity! If you would like to learn more, click HERE.
The fog has been relentless here lately. It got me thinking about how it’s nearly impossible to see ahead when it’s so thick, especially in the darkness, and despite headlights to guide us on our way.
Growth is a lot like this. We don’t know what we don’t know. When life is feeling challenging, it can be outright painful to even look ahead to the future. During the hard, growth days, in the releasing and letting go of what’s no longer serving our higher good, that’s when the fog begins to lift. We start to see more clearly. We are able to look in the rearview and see how far we’ve come, too.
I don’t believe we ever graduate from “growth college.” It’s not something in which we can earn a Masters or PH.D. degree. It’s through the school of hard-Knox life where we learn as we go. There isn’t some end-point we all should be striving to achieve.
If we can accept that growth is a forever ongoing process and that we never truly reach enlightenment (unless you’re Buddhist), we then can savor the process of discovering and uncovering all the layers that have created and shaped us.
The fog has lifted here in the great plains. Despite not seeing the sun for several days, I know it’s there. Isn’t that funny? We have faith and trust that the sun is there, even when we can’t see it. And yet, we don’t trust and have faith in ourselves that we too, have a light within us that, no matter how thick the fog may get, can light the way for us – even in the darkest of days.
P.S. My B.F.F. shared this Kindness February Calendar (<— click for immediate download) with me. I love it so much; I thought I’d share it with you. Spread your light, friend; with all the darkness and fog out there, we need more of it.