Hello beautiful Soul, today I am excited to be sharing my long overdue post with you! This is a topic I am passionate about: emotional wisdom. Indeed, Through my training as a BNE (BioNeuroEmotion) practitioner I have come to understand just how important emotions are. And, In a world where we are used to rationalising pretty much everything and prioritising our thinking over our feelings, this can come as a bit of a surprise to many.
Yes, alas being in touch with one’s emotions is still largely seen as a sign of weakness rather than a strength. And that, my dear friends, could not be further from the truth. Besides, this is no new discovery. Philosophers, thinkers and even scientists have been speaking about the role and power of emotions for centuries now.
As you will hear me repeat time and again, mother nature is very purposeful in everything she creates. If you look around, you will see that she is all about symbiosis and connection. Just as our beautiful blue planet needs both the moon and the sun, for everything to work perfectly, we depend both on our rational and emotional brains to make coherent decisions. To quote the brilliant Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Carl Gustav Jung: "Where wisdom reigns, there is no conflict between thinking and feeling."
Like our rational brain, our emotional system plays a key role in the decisions we make and in our evolution as a species. Understanding and working with our emotions, rather than overlooking and suppressing them, is crucial to our wellbeing and development.
Now, let’s give those good old emotions a bit of TLC and look into this further, shall we?
Understanding Your Emotions:
So what are emotion exactly?
By definition, the word emotion comes from the Latin verb emovere, which means to move forward or through. That's right, emotions are all about movement. In other words, they drive us to act. E-motion is really Energy in motion. Now, according to a well established physical principle, energy (that is to say information) cannot be created or erased, only transformed. So with that in mind, emotions are powerful energy/information transmuters. They literally are the lenses through which we see the world. We take action based on what we see through them. Yes, behind every action we take lies an emotion that will colour our experience, so we can adapt to our environment.
Emotions are neither good, nor bad. They just are. What is more, they have a common biological purpose: our survival. That is why it is so important for us to learn to observe them, without judging them in order to work with them, rather than having them work against us.
Our emotions and feelings can be divided into two categories, and are controlled by different parts of our brain.
1. Basic/Core Emotions and the Limbic System:
In BNE, We believe that there are five basic emotions: anger, sadness, disgust, joy and fear. They are the driving force behind everything we do and were designed solely for survival purposes. We were gifted those core emotions right from the beginning of times, all the way back in those good old cave days:
Although we now live in a much more complex and evolved world, our basic emotions continue to fulfil the same role as they did back then. As I said, behind every single action we carry out, there is an emotion with a positive intent.
All five basic emotions are controlled by our limbic system (and unconscious mind), that is to say the oldest part of our brain. It is responsible for 95 % of our behaviour and in highly stressful situations, it will most definitely take over.
In those situations, there is no rational thinking involved. Survival allows no time for thinking. If you have ever been in a situation where you barely escaped a road accident for example, you will know what I am referring to. The other car was heading full speed towards you, but something made you take the right action at the right moment. You didn’t have to think about it. Fear took care of the job! It was a no brainer: your hands turned the wheel for you. That is how your limbic system operates. Most of the time, it is taking decisions long before your rational brain kicks into action.
2. Social Emotions and the Rational Brain:
Now, what about all our other emotions and feelings, I hear you ask? In BNE we refer to them as our secondary or social emotions. Those are controlled by the neocortex or rational brain, also the newest part of our brain. And as far as we know at present, unlike our core emotions which we share with most other species, they are largely a human “thinking” affair.
Simply put, the core emotion will trigger our limbic system and elicit a response. Then, the rational brain will assess the situation. Basically, the rational brain is there to sensor or mitigate anything that might be inappropriate to our functioning on a social level. It ensures that we act in an “appropriate” way and don't actually kill our boss.
For the most part it’s a great system that helps us to navigate our more complex and evolved world. However, at times the rational brain may override emotions that need to be expressed but are judged not worthy of being so. That creates a disconnect between what we really feel and what we actually do and can lead to some form of incoherence, whether it be emotional or physical.
Take for example someone who is dealing with an infidelity. Most probably the limbic system will immediately elicit an anger response. If anger is judged and deemed socially unacceptable by their rational mind, in the flick of an eye the person could then switch to sadness. Over time, if that anger remains unacknowledged and suppressed, the sadness could escalate and give way to depression and resentment. There is a disconnect between what that person really feels and what she is expressing through her behaviour.
What needs to be acknowledged is the core/basic emotion, not the sadness and all the secondary feelings that are suppressing it. They are just a byproduct of what is really going on.
The problem is not the emotion, the problem is the judging of the emotion which is what creates the disconnect and the long term issues. As mentioned, emotions are neither good nor bad, they just are. If expressed in a healthy way, they come and go.
To quote Carl Jung again: “Real liberation comes not from glossing over or repressing painful states of feeling, but only from experiencing them to the full.”
How suppressed emotions affect our health and general wellbeing.
Suppressed emotions do affect our health and general wellbeing, this is no longer a secret. There are plenty of studies out there showing the link between disease and emotional overwhelm. Should you wish to look further into it, I highly recommend both Dr. Christian Boukaram and Dr. Mario Martinez's work.
For now let's take a look at why this happens.
If you remember, an emotion is there to elicit a response in the form of movement/action. Therefore, a suppressed emotion stops us from moving forward.
From a biological standpoint, there is no such thing as a "bad" emotion. Take anxiety or fear, for example. Their purpose is to keep us alive. Have you ever noticed that when you are traveling to a new place, you are more aware of your surroundings? That is because your whole system is on alert. There is a certain level of fear and stress there. It allows you to pay greater attention to what is going on around you and adapt to your new environment. This will hopefully avoid you from getting into trouble if you perceive danger at any point. It is as simple as that.
The problem is that, unlike animals, we human beings have an incredible capacity to generate virtual fear. We are often afraid of something that is not really happening. If you have read my blog post on the Jungian Mirror effect, you will know that one of the main characteristics of our unconscious mind is that it does not distinguish between real and imaginary events.
So for your unconscious mind that virtual fear is, in fact, real and will generate a biological response in you. That is how our body is designed to work. Emotions will affect us physically, that’s why our heart beats faster when we are angry for example. And, in the case of fear, our body will literally shut down parts of our immune system for us to get the energy we require to take action.
Back in the times where we didn't have a developed neocortex yet, fear drove us to run for our lives when chased by a wild animal. As soon as we got to a safe spot, our system would go back to normal again. That is exactly how animals function. They don't sit there for days overanalysing what that b..... of a Lion tried to do to them. Unlike us, right?
You thinking time and again about your boss, your bills etc. will elicit the exact same survival biological responses in your body. Over time, it becomes physically unsustainable and that is where emotional upheaval and illness come into play.
The problem is that while you are fretting about all those issues, you are not doing anything about them. Your are not moving in any direction and your unconscious mind is still expecting you to react. You are suppressing your core emotion, the one to which your body is, in fact, responding to.
To take an extreme example: someone who is putting up with an abusive relationship, talking themselves out of acting and rationalising their way into remaining in the situation. Their unconscious mind does not understand why they are not running away and produces the same biological responses as it would if they were being chased by a lion. They are in total incoherence between what they are really feeling and what they are doing. Therefore, stress accumulates in the body and, in the long term, can eventually lead to health issues.
Observing Your Emotions and Learning from them
As always, the answer does not lie in judging ourselves for feeling the way we feel and acting the way we act. Real liberation comes from acknowledging the emotion, letting it in and comprehending its purpose. It is from that newfound awareness that one can regain emotional coherence, by acting from a place of understanding, rather than reacting out of resentment or guilt.
Our bodies are far wiser than we think. Listening to them and paying attention to the signals they are sending out through our emotions is vital to our wellbeing.
Here is a little exercise to get you observing your feelings and actions :
Pay attention to any situation that really triggers you or elicits an excessive emotional reaction from you. There is a goldmine to be uncovered.
1. Take a look at the various situations in which you have had that same emotional reaction. Observe them as if they were different movie scenes or pictures and ask yourself the following questions: In which situations do I feel more triggered? What do those situations have in common?
2. Recognise the purpose behind the emotion you are feeling: what are you trying to achieve by feeling that way? How is expressing that emotion serving you?
3. Identify how this relates to your personal and family history: who in your family tree could it have served to react that way? (Emotions & behaviours can be inherited. This is a fascinating subject that I shall delve into, in another post).
And there you have it dear soul. I hope you enjoyed the read and if you have any questions or thoughts you would like to share, please do not hesitate to pop them down in the comment section below. I would love to connect further with you that way!
With all my love,
As a BNE practitioner I help consciously aware people identify the emotional root cause of any re-occurring pattern, issue or physical ailment they might have, so they can shift their perception and show up as their best selves. Should this resonate, you can find out more about my work here.
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Hi, I´m Dannie
A fellow soul seeker, blogger & certified BioNeuroEmotion® (BNE) practitioner who is passionate about growing, self actualising & learning in order to lead a more coherent/conscious life and help others do the same.