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How Your Emotions Can Help You

As we embark on Cancer season (June 21 – July 23), we’re being asked to tune into our emotions. Cancer is one of the most sensitive astrological signs, where it asks us to shell in and feel all aspects of ourselves.  

Oftentimes people get incredibly confused, overwhelmed or ashamed when various emotions arise, and may not know what to do about it. 

I’ve listed below common negative and positive emotions people may feel, and what practices you can do when these emotions arise. Remember, emotions are not a bad thing and should be felt/dealt with. 

Shame

Shame is a hot topic right now thanks to one of my favorite teachers, Brené Brown. Which is good, because shame needs to be discussed. This emotion asks us to hide (physically, emotionally, spiritually / in every way), and it says we need privacy or validation. 

Directly related to stigma, shame can be one of the nastiest emotions around. The best way to explain shame is to compare it to guilt:

Guilt = I did something wrong

Shame = I am something wrong 

Thinking that we are not good enough or that there’s something wrong with us will affect everything in our lives. Coming to love (who we truly are) is oftentimes an arduous process, but it’s also a beautiful and necessary one. It’s ultimately one of our biggest life purposes: to fully love and accept ourselves. 

When this emotion arises, practice:

Reaching out to others, having compassion and being courageous in who you are. Practice  Brené Brown’s Shame Resilience steps. 

Disgust/Contempt 

Disgust asks us to force/purge something “bad” out. This emotion asks us to take action, and we are invited to do something different than what is currently at play. Maybe this means you can no longer tolerate your partner’s abusive behavior, you are repulsed by what your boss is doing or you can no longer stand continuing an unhealthy habit. Disgust is extreme because it asks us to question something and then do something different about it. 

When this emotion arises, practice:

Changing your mindset around what caused you disgust – look at it as a gift, as it’s a life-changing message for you. You may need to create boundaries, leave a situation or speak up for yourself in some way. 

Pain/Hurt

Pain, hurt or sadness is an indication that healing needs to be done. It is a beautiful time and an invitation to go deep within and sit with ourselves, in order to heal the pain. It’s common for people to drown out their sorrows with alcohol, drugs or TV, but it’s truly important to sit with your emotions in order for them to transform. 

When this emotion arises, practice:

Being present. Call a friend or therapist, write down how you’re feeling or let yourself cry or be sad. When we push away our emotions, they only come back to haunt us down the road. 

Anger

Anger arises when your boundaries have been violated in some way – that we need protection from what is violating us. This may be physical, emotional, spiritual or mental protection. First we must assess what our needs are, and then communicate them in some way. 

When this emotion arises, practice:

Taking a breath and doing something physical: go for a run, hike, dance, scream into a pillow, go boxing, etc. Get it out of your body, as anger (and all emotion) lives in the body. 

Fear & Anxiety 

Fear arises when we do not feel safe; and its purpose is to protect us from danger. But when we feel anxiety (oftentimes unnecessary fear that we do not need), the brain registers this emotion the same as fear, and our bodies go into a fight or flight state. It’s important to feel this in the body, and to work with the mind. 

When this emotion arises, practice:

Talking to it. Say, ‘Hi, Anxious Annie (for example), thank you for trying to protect me, but I am in no imminent danger, and your loud voice is causing me anguish. I am here to sit with you and listen to you, and I’m also here to assure you everything is okay.’

Get out of your head and into your body by shaking, going for a walk, dancing, etc. Anxiety is all about what we think and it’s up to us to shift it.

Peace

We feel peace when we do not feel fear or worry. Even if for a brief moment, we are completely present and content. If it’s difficult to access this emotion, try to create a Safe Place (more below). 

To create this emotion, practice:

Creating a Safe Place.

Pick a place in your mind (it can be real or imaginary), such as a beach or a mountaintop, or your own bed, and close your eyes and go there when you feel distress. Breathe deeply in and out through your nose, feel your feet on the ground, and fully be at that place: notice the smells, the taste, the sounds, the texture. If you have a physical place you can go to, that is also a great option!

Reiterate to yourself that you are safe in this moment.

Love

When we feel love, we are fully accepting ourselves or another. It’s hard to truly love someone else if we cannot love / accept ourself. So, the best thing to do is to walk the path of self-love. 

To create this emotion, practice:

Meditation, loving kindness, and exploring the root of why you don’t love yourself (maybe due to childhood trauma, etc.) 

Happiness

We feel happy when our life circumstances are great – so it’s important to remember that in life, it’s natural for happiness to come and go, just as in any other emotion. 

To create this emotion, practice: 

being fully present. Don’t think about the past or the future; and fully soak up this feeling. It’s important to appreciate this time as happiness is fleeting, yet we can feel joy at all times. 

Joy 

Joy occurs when we feel significant. We feel connected and appreciative of our lives. We see all the good and are able to fully enjoy it. Joy can also be a very vulnerable emotion, because some people are afraid of being joyful for fear they may lose something. 

To create this emotion, practice: 

Being fully present. 

Foreboding Joy 

Foreboding joy comes about when everything is going great, yet we’re afraid the other shoe will drop. Perhaps we’re finally in a great place in our lives and we’re afraid something bad will happen. Just remember that our thoughts are prayers so if you fear something might happen, it’s more likely to happen. 

When this emotion arises, practice:

Allowing yourself to be vulnerable and open, while also being very grateful for what you have right now. 

Perfectionism 

Perfectionism is a fear that we are not good enough just as we are. We may think, If I live and act perfectly, I will not get hurt. Akin to shame, perfectionism is when we put on a mask so that we look great but don’t truly allow ourselves to feel deep emotions and be vulnerable. Perfectionism robs true joy. 

When this emotion arises, practice:

Loving yourself as you are. Letting other people see the real you. Allowing yourself to be human and make mistakes. (Letting go is key here). 

Numbing

Numbing occurs when we choose to distract ourselves from our emotions because we feel we are incapable of handling them. We do this through TV, drugs, alcohol, or unhealthy patterns that take us away from our true selves and emotions. 

When this emotion arises, practice:

Sitting with yourself and processing your emotions (identifying them), and then following the practice step under that particular emotion. Bottom line: feel your emotions. 

Now I would love to hear from you. 

Are you tuning into your emotions lately? Are you re-thinking of ways to cope with your emotions? Are you afraid to tap into your emotions? Although it can be scary at first, sitting with and processing your emotions is the absolute crucial step in healing and self-care. I hope you enjoy this beautiful Cancer season and allow yourself to get to know yourself better – and have some fun too! 

Namaste,


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