The secret battle women have with emotions
This week I spoke to women about attending a workshop on emotions and the loudest message was that they did not feel safe to work through their emotions in a group. The lack of trust towards other women when it comes to us expressing emotions was undeniable. These women were strong. They ran businesses, managed families and some even had public profiles. They held it all together for other people in lots of different contexts, and saw themselves as in control of their lives, or at least on the surface. Yet the thought of revealing how they really felt with other women in a workshop was unpalatable. They stated they were more comfortable in psychotherapy on a one on one basis. Moreover, it was not just themselves they were talking for. They spoke about how this would be quiet normal for most women who moved in their circles.
The importance of emotional well-being
What really stood out for me from these conversations was just how ill-at-ease we are with our emotional selves and how deeply we fear sharing how we feel. Yet our emotional well-being underlies so much in our lives. Our relationship with our emotions forms the foundation of our relationships with our partners, children and friends. It forms the basis of our eating patterns and addictions. It underlies physical health problems and our ability to experience joy. Additionally, it is fundamental to femininity and our emotional wisdom.
This made me wonder… as women, how healthy are we? There is so much emphasis on physical appearance and sex and yet half the country is suffering from depression and anxiety. This says something!!! It says we do not understand or accept ourselves as emotional beings.
By being ‘emotionally sick’ what we are really talking about is being disconnected from our adaptive emotions and being stuck in painful conditioned patterns from our past. Metal illness may be a huge industry in the Western world, but really the truth is that we are caught in the grip of powerful emotional patterns without the tools, wisdom or knowledge to find our way out.
The first step to discovering freedom from emotional overwhelm is to acknowledge our authentic feelings in a safe environment and work through our patterns. It is about knowing we are perfectly acceptable for having the full spectrum of emotional states, and that owning them and safely expressing them is healthy to our body, mind and soul. It is sad that we believe there is something wrong with us when we experience intense emotions. The truth is that this is inevitable at some point in our lives. What is more, we can learn to be at ease with who we really are only if we allow ourselves to feel without being ashamed of our emotions. This needs to be done both in individual therapy as well as in safe psychotherapeutic groups for us to experience being accepted by ourselves and others.
Cultivating Emotional Wisdom
Learn more about how to work with your emotions rather than be overwhelmed them, in my new book.