Our emotions have a powerful influence on our lives that give us the ability to feel and experience the world. It is our emotions that truly make us human, ‘e-motion’ stands for energy in motion and energy is what everything in this world, including us, is made of.
Our body is constantly moving through cycles of thoughts, emotions and the behaviours that follow it, whether we are fully aware of this or not. We develop our emotional regulation as children by modeling and receiving guidance from our parents, caregivers or peers.
Depending on how our emotional needs were met (or not) as children determine how we process our emotions in adult life. Experiencing emotional neglect as children can be extremely subtle and may be difficult for a guardian to know they are doing it. Especially when they may be going through their own struggles and they themselves were not taught or modeled how to manage their emotional needs.
This emotional neglect can be as simple as a child sharing a story of something that upset them in school and the parent or guardian not being present or brushing it off instead of listening and helping the child cope. This can create an imprint in the child that their emotional needs are not important as well as not feeling safe to express their emotions. This is where cycles and patterns have a way of repeating until consciously broken and the only way to break a pattern is to recognise where you too have adopted it.
As a result of experiencing emotional neglect as a child, being able to deal with emotions in adult life becomes challenging. Often leading to feelings of emptiness, guilt, shame, shunning intimacy with self and others, anger or aggressive behaviour, and difficulty in trusting others or being highly reliant on others. This disconnection with self as a whole body (mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual) is what causes much dis-ease within a being’s system to function at an optimum state of well-being.
Emotional regulation is a practice and a learned skill that gives us the ability to manage our emotional responses which ultimately gives us back the power to choose from a conscious place rather than an autopilot response that derives from the pool of the unconscious. Regulating our emotions as they arise gives that healthy space between feeling an emotion and our reaction to that emotion.
When you feel triggered by someone, an event, or a situation that brings up difficult emotions, your body signals sensations as a cue to emotionally regulate. These sensations may be tightness in the chest, nausea in the stomach, or head fogginess. The sensations will differ from person to person but over time you learn to pick up on their cues and start to listen to your emotional needs and respond by managing them to return to a state of neutrality. From this space, you can make conscious decisions and responses that are objective rather than emotionally charged – here you get to break the unconscious patterning.
The key is to allow your emotions to be seen, felt, and expressed through the eyes of acceptance for exactly what they are ‘energy in motion’ and not attach to what your perception of them is to be, or have to make sense of or something to ‘solve’ instead give room for them to flow through rather than stagnate.
3 Embodied Practices for Emotional Regulation:
Utilise the Breath as your Anchor
You can easily return to your breath as your anchor point. Our breath helps synchronise body and mind bringing us back into present moment sensing. Take a pause close your eyes briefly to draw your attention inward, make sure both feet are pressed firmly against the ground (taking a second to notice this) and then take in a slow, deep breath for a count of 6 in through the nose, allow the air to fill your entire belly, feel the rise of the shoulders and then exhale through the mouth for an equal count of 6 feeling as the belly contracts inward and the shoulders drop bringing you back into your body. Take as many of these breaths as you feel necessary to reach a state of neutrality.
Self-Touch to Self-Soothe
Place your hands somewhere on your body that feels safe and supportive for you. I can suggest one hand on the heart and one hand over the stomach or lower abdomen (womb space). Begin to make small circular clockwise motions with the palm of your hands and/or gentle tapping with your fingertips. Let your body be your guide as to how fast or slow you rotate/tap until you reach a feeling state of comfort and safety. This self-touch practice reduces cortisol responses to psychosocial stress, it also signals a reminder of the need to be cradled, rocked, and soothed just as we had been by a carer as babies to help regulate and return to a state of calm in moments of discomfort. Through this practice, you create this comforting and safe sensation for yourself through your own physical touch and embrace.
Dance or Shake out the Body
When the body is feeling overstimulated and overwhelmed by stress triggers you can regulate the nervous system and calm the body by physically shaking or dancing it out. The shaking or movement vibration helps to release muscular tension, burn excess adrenaline, and allow the nervous system to return to a neutral state which thereby manages stress levels in the body. You can start with just one leg and shake it, then the other, then an arm, then the other, and then incorporate the whole body shaking at once. Another way is to play some music with an emotional charge that matches how you are feeling and let the body express your emotional state through the movement, the key here is not to think about it just let the body move as you evoke trust in its natural ability to heal itself.
The truth is we cannot control external factors that life throws at us and one thing is for sure, uncertainty in that which is outside of you is always a given but the certainty you cultivate within and how you choose to respond will always remain.
Try practicing emotional regulation through the above-suggested embodied practices and reflect on the difference you feel in your body, asking yourself:
- How did it feel to return and be in my body?
- How did my body and emotions feel before I did one or more of these practices?
- How did my body and emotions feel after I did one or more of these practices?
When we move away from the mind and into the body we regain a sense of ourselves and from here we can make new choices and form new patterns that ultimately change our outer reality and how we show up in the world.
If you want to experience an embodied coaching session where we utilise our body as our source of truth to reveal your aligned action then book a free initiation call with me here!