Born to Heal Podcast with Dr. Katie Deming
Dr. Katie Deming believes in making the Born to Heal Podcast accessible to all. If you aren't able to tune in, we've included the transcript from Episode #2: Managing Emotions here.
Episode #2: Managing Emotions
Today we're talking about emotions, and the importance of processing and really managing your emotions when you're dealing with a physical illness. I think the first thing to talk about is that it emotions are a normal part of dealing with any illness in your body or trauma that you have emotional healing to do. It is part of us, we are emotional beings. When we are experiencing something in our life that's either good or not so good, it's important that we process those emotions.
To start, I want to talk about what are emotions, and also, what causes us to feel certain things. The first thing I want to point out is that we talked about fear on Episode #1, and how we really were dealing with the thoughts that your brain was feeding you that were making you fearful. This is an important thing to notice, that your emotions are almost always tied to your thoughts and what you're thinking. So in the episode on fear, we talked about managing those thoughts and kind of dealing with your brain, before you have an emotion that you feel from thinking a thought.
In this episode, what we're going to do is really dive into what if you're already experiencing the emotion. What if you don't catch it when it's in this thought-form, where it's feeding us something to be scared of, and then you feel it in your body? What if you're already experiencing the fear? This technique that I'm going to talk about works with processing fear, but also works with any emotion.
Emotions are really vibrations in your body. And they're caused, like we said, by thoughts, or sometimes you can have a visceral reaction to something where you just feel fear or whatever emotion from the stimulus that is incoming. Emotions are basically creating a vibration in our body that makes us feel a certain way. Those emotions actually have impacts on those people, other people around us as well. But we'll talk about that on another episode.
In this episode, we really want to talk about when you're experiencing emotions, how you can manage that. I think one of the first things to say is that it's really important to feel emotions, and process them. The reason why is because emotions can get stuck in our bodies and really stay with us, causing us to feel that emotion during times when really, there's no reason to be feeling that emotion. Say that it's fear, if you don't feel it, you can actually continue to carry that emotion around and it's under the surface for you. That's one reason why it's important, just from an emotional standpoint, to be able to process and release because the emotions will stay with you and can affect your emotional responses to things going on your life otherwise.
The second one is that emotions are vibrations, that when they're suppressed, they can be trapped in the body. This can be related to medical illness. One of the biggest causes of disease or illness is stress. Stress is an emotion, like fear, so it's really important that we process emotions, both for our physical and our emotional health.
I like to teach a little trick to my patients. It's really an acronym for the process that I have my patients do when they're processing emotion.
Step 1: Feel
The first thing that I teach them to do is to notice when they have an emotion in their body, and how do you notice emotions in your body? You'll feel them right? Right. So that's the first thing that I teach them, is to feel the emotion and don't push it away. Actually just allow it and welcome it to be there.
Step 2: Identify the Emotion
The second thing that I teach my patients is to identify the emotion that's causing that feeling in their body. So maybe they're feeling a tight, kind of clenching in their chest. They can feel that it's hot, it's tight, it's kind of radiating across their chest. And that's how it feels physically. But then when they think about, okay, what's the emotion that's causing this? Could be anything, right? But they're able to tune in and say, okay, what I'm feeling is actually fear, or what I'm feeling is guilt, or what I'm feeling is sadness or grief. Really identifying what emotion is causing this physical feeling in my body.
Step 3: Allow
The third thing is I have them allow the emotion, just allow it to be there. The way that I find is the most effective in the allowing portion is to take nice, easy, deep breaths in through your nose, and then out through your mouth. Do that a few times, really allowing the emotion to be there. Like I said before, welcoming it in making it feel like it's valid and allowed in your space and accepted.
You don't have to do this for super long. Usually by like three, four breaths, you're starting to notice that the feeling or emotion starts to dissipate, it's not going to last forever. If you allow it and you breathe into it, it usually will subside or at least go down to like less than 20% of what it started at, within three to four breaths.
Step 4: Let It Go
Once my patients have completed step 3, I then have them let it go. Once they've gotten that emotion down to like 20% of what it started, I have them visualize the emotion just washing off to them and into the earth. Really just letting that emotion go down into the earth and grounding it into the earth.
And so that's the process, it's actually really easy. The acronym is FEAL.
F is for feel it in your body. E is what is the emotion, identify the emotion associated with it with that feeling. This is one place where people sometimes get stuck, so don't get too focused on identifying the emotion. If you can't say exactly what it is, you can say it generally doesn't feel good or something like that, and then just move on to allowing, which is A and then let it go which is L. So F E A L is the acronym.
This is a good way for you to quickly identify and allow and process your emotions. You can learn to do this, I do this throughout my day.
This happened a couple weeks ago, I was in grocery shopping and something reminded me of my kids and all of the sudden I felt guilty about something. And I was just pushing my cart through Trader Joe's and I was like oh wow, I'm feeling this tightening inside of me. So I just like noticed and went into that. Okay, what am I feeling? I was feeling this kind of tight sadness in my upper abdomen. Then I said, what emotion am I feeling right now? That's when it came up that I was like, oh I'm feeling guilty about something with my kids. I noticed okay, that's guilt for me. Then I was pushing my shopping cart through the store, I just breathed into it and allowed it, and it dissipated.
When I got it down to the point where I felt good, grounding it, I just let it go into the earth. That took me like, maybe 30 seconds. You can do that too, you can do it, use it all throughout your day. It becomes like a really great tool to process and release your emotions.
It's also a great way to get in tune with what emotions are you feeling. Because that's one of the things that sometimes happens is people start to try, or I guess not try is not the right word. As they start to get in touch with their emotions, they may notice that they've really numbed them themselves out, and they're not feeling them. This is a good way that you can cultivate feeling your emotions. Sometimes if people have numbed themselves, it's often to negative emotions. They may still have some that they can access, like happiness or gratitude. So what I would say is, if you know that you are having trouble identifying your emotions, try to find one that comes through easily. And then create a thought in your mind around that emotion that would make you feel excited or happy or grateful or whatever it is for you. Then practice it with that. You'll start to create awareness and connection with your body.
One of the things that happens for a lot of us is not only do we numb access to our emotions, and feel them less fully, but we also often will disconnect from our body. So we'll separate our thinking from what's going on in our body. Our true power to live our most full life and really experience life is when we are fully integrated. When we are connected to our body, when we can feel the emotions that are occurring, and then allowing them to pass through us. This is such a powerful skill, and it's so easy.
What I want to help you do is connect your emotions, and also learn to experience and allow them and know that you can stay in command. I didn't say control because I think control is an illusion. We don't really control anything. But I think really what people worry about with emotions is losing command of kind of being in charge of where things go. So I want to teach you that that's a skill that you can build. It's a muscle. The more you use it, the better you're going to get at really experiencing your emotions. I hope that that's helpful for you.