You are more than your intellect
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Caroline Le Vine
21st November, 20150 Comments
We are thinking beings; we use our powerful brains to great effect. Crossing the road requires thought as does arriving at the latest scientific breakthrough. We need to plan our time, consider options available to us and solve problems. It‘s easy to believe that our intellect is the most important aspect of us, but we have physical bodies and we have emotional realms as well. These can be easily overlooked as we bustle through our lives. It‘s not unknown for me to ask someone how they feel about something and for them to begin their response with, "I think...". Going straight to thinking, ignores feeling. For some, the safest place to be is in thinking. It‘s rational, logical and tidy(ish). Feeling is messy, illogical and can be frightening because it‘s less controlled and not so easy for the mind to understand.
Ignoring the feeling world is a high risk option, though. It might seem like a good idea because you feel you are protecting yourself but, at some point those boxed up, stuffed down feelings will emerge, possibly with some force. You may become suddenly and uncontrollably angry for no reason that is apparent to you, you may find yourself weeping torrents of tears. Or you may succumb to deep depression. Your physical body will often offer clues to your unease as well. Churning stomach, tight chested-ness, headaches, insomnia and so on; these can be manifestations of deep unexpressed unhappiness.
If you recognise in yourself a reluctance to feel, it‘s important to acknowledge the fear that can be associated with overwhelming emotion and not to rush in. We need to go gently into that unfamiliar world and be reassured that we can come back to a safer place when we need to, rather than drowning. Generally, I‘d suggest that you do this with a therapist who can be with you in the moments that scare you and who can help you back into a more comfortable place.
If however, you suspect that there‘s a feeling lurking that you‘ve yet to connect with but that probably isn‘t too much to handle alone, you could try spending some time (just a few minutes will do) focusing on your inner, emotional world and see what you find. You‘ll need a quiet space, away from distractions.
Sit comfortably with both feet flat on the floor and close your eyes. Bring your attention to your breathing only, just for a few breaths. If your mind wanders, just gently bring it back to your breathing. Then start a brief body scan: begin with your feet and work upwards to the top of your head, pausing at each part and checking how it feels. Is it hot? Cold, tense, relaxed, stiff, churning or soft? Whatever you discover - comfortable or not - see what feelings are associated with that physical state. Try to remain curious and not judge what you find. If your stomach is churning say, is there some irritation there, or anxiety? What might the feeling be connected with? What do you need to do about it? Express it? Talk to someone? Explore or consider it further? Take some other action?
When you‘re ready to stop, bring your awareness gently back into the room. Focus on what you can hear, smell and touch. Finally, open your eyes and acknowledge what you can see. Pause a little and then gradually engage with the outside world again. I hope you‘ll have got to know a little more about your emotional and physical aspects and about the relationship between them. If you find this useful, do it some more!
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