Hello, Unconscious Emotion. Welcome to the party.
You have a headache. You have a stomach ache. You tremble, shake, and twitch. You can’t focus on anything. Your mind obsesses compulsively. Are you looking at medication as a possible option for controlling your experience? It may be the right one for you, but you also may be better served by acknowledging the elephant in the middle of the room.
You are in possession of a highly sophisticated sensory system: your body. This system is deeply and intricately interwoven with a highly sophisticated information management system: your brain. These systems represent two different and equally valid ways of understanding life. Since the brain and the body are always talking to each other, you can listen to either and get to the same place.
The mind-body connection is new to many people, and we commonly separate them. However, it is a mistake to think that your physical experience is somehow separate from your emotional experience, which originates in the brain. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If your body is reacting, it’s because it is expressing emotions that you aren’t consciously recognizing. This happens when the situation you face has spun you into emotions that you find challenging to address in a conscious way.
At the core, this is fear.Fear blocks the internal messaging system between your body and your brain, scrambles your wiring, and distorts your intuition. That distortion can cause us to interpret our internal messages incorrectly, whether they are coming from the brain or the body.
Fear can appear as anxiety, hypersensitivity, shutting down, putting your guard up, hypervigilance, hyperawareness, and aggression. Following the “guidance” we receive when we are afraid doesn’t usually lead to anything good. Luckily, fear is also only the TOP layer of what is really going on. Only if you stop to listen to the reaction will you understand the real message. Your mindfulness practice is the best tool for this work.
Deep listening from either the brain or the body, when it’s not distorted by fear, is called “intuition”. As your intuition improves, you will be more able to deal with emotion consciously and less likely to drive unconscious emotion to express itself through your body. You’ll be able to hear its call to action before you get stressed out. When you do this, you’ve made fear into your ally. It will no longer drive you into sabotage. I believe this is the single most important emotional skill to cultivate.
The process for making fear your ally is really simple, but not always easy. First, notice when you’re in fear. Acknowledge that your unconscious emotion is appearing in your body. Label it. Call it what it is. Calm yourself down. Remind yourself that you are safe.
Then, listen more deeply. Ask yourself what you need and who you can reach out to for support.
If your body is expressing fear reactions, take it as an invitation to make your fear into an ally. Endeavor to do this with gratitude that your body is communicating with you. It may be in a language you’re only beginning to understand, but you can learn – and you’ll be more joyful, more balanced, and more competent as a result.
To your success,