Did you know you are built of longings?
Did you know that research shows that the amygdala is soothed when the right language is put to the emotional experience that the body is having?
There is real physical power in naming our true emotional experiences.
We see this in fMRI scans: the brain calm when emotions–and the meaning behind them–are named accurately.
We live in a culture that is so obsessed with doing and solving, that we often blow right by giving any attention to what is actually going on within us.
When I learned about how impactful it is for our bodies (and relationships) to simply name our emotions to ourselves, I wondered immediately why we don’t all do this! I brought this research into a workshop I was teaching and was surprised by everyone’s response.
“Of course we don’t name our emotions to each other!” everyone said, “That sounds terrifying.”
We are taught to be afraid of our emotions because of our fear that they will cause tension, conflict, or abandonment in our relationships.
In such a precarious and cold culture, of course we would be afraid of anything that could put our belonging in jeopardy! Of course we wouldn’t have learned how to speak directly about our feelings and needs! And, of course it would feel awkward and uncomfortable when we try to start figuring out how to put language to our emotions!
The irony here is that to protect ourselves from the unknown, we also protect ourselves from what can be known.
We think we are being kind to ourselves when we push things down, bury things, don’t let ourselves get too upset or too happy–but actually, we are withholding from ourselves what we need the most: acknowledgement. Relief. Peace.
We are withholding from ourselves our truth.
And this truth: this ever-shifting, moving and deeply felt emotional truth, is our healing.
Once we are able to find language for our emotions, we are able to open up a terrain for a much-needed deeper exploration: we can start to take warm guesses as to why we’re feeling the way we’re feeling. These guesses, when they resonate, allow us to feel into the truth of what matters to us.
This is because we don’t feel strong emotions about things we don’t care about. And often there are many emotions all circulating at once, causing us to feel overwhelm and confusion. Connecting to why we might be feeling the intensity of what we are feeling helps us to start making sense to ourselves.
I invite you to watch this short video where I share my journey of learning how to find language for my feelings and needs, and practicing making warm guesses about how my body feels.
Being able to capture the completeness of our emotional experience allows us to relate directly with our deepest needs and longings.
Being able to connect to our why offers us a deep sense of warm justification and validation that allows us to move out of reactivity, and into deep alignment and care for ourselves.
When we can understand the ecosystems of our emotions and deep needs, then we can also understand that we make sense.
That there’s nothing wrong with us. That we are feeling the way that we feel for very good reasons.
It is from this place of warm curiosity and awareness that kindness and compassion live.
P.S. This is a comprehensive Feelings And Needs list, which I find to be a very helpful tool to use when my body is traffic-jammed with a deep need to be heard and understood.