wellness coaching

What's so wrong with emotion anyway?

Have you ever felt blue and told yourself “get over yourself. Just smile and be happy?” You’re not the only one. As a holistic practitioner, I've been lucky to meet and be treated by some of the most brilliant people around the world helping people rediscover their sense of self. Here's what I've learned.

Bottling up emotions is part of living in Western culture, and many holistic psychologists think suppressed emotions could be the reason psychosomatic disorders like depression, anxiety and insomnia are on the rise.

how to manage emotion

As the West looks more and more to the East for guidance on wellbeing, we’re discovering that healing inside, rather than outside ourselves could be the key to a more balanced life, mind and heart.

In modern Western culture, feelings are grouped into two categories; good and bad. Anger, pain, guilt, fear and shame get stuffed into the bad group, while joy, passion and love are in the good group. 

Life is like a box of chocolates

"Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get,’” (thanks Forest) so you may have encountered some pretty tough stuff that causes you to feel strong emotions.

If a parent left you when we were young, you may feel ashamed of having a parent you didn’t feel loved you. You might feel fear that other people in your life will leave you too. But! Imagine if you told someone that! You’d feel weak and ridiculous! So you pretend you’re fine, even convincing yourself your fine and burying your feelings so deep, you don’t know they’re there. 

We’re programmed to avoid bad feelings at all costs. So we put on a smile, and go about our daily lives. We might even think people won't like us without our mask on, so instead of connecting with people, we connect with other things like a dependent partner, social media, drugs, alcohol, sex, food, exercise, eating disorders and other dependencies. 

What causes addiction? Easy, right? Drugs cause addiction. But maybe it is not that simple. This video is adapted from Johann Hari's New York Times best-selling book 'Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs.'

Essentially, we put a bandaid on the feelings and we pretend they’re not there. But what happens when you leave a bandaid on? Slowly, the adhesive wears away, and it starts to slip, until it’s fallen off completely.

When we bottle up emotions for too long, they end up showing up in different ways.

We may be the absolute picture of composure at work, then get home and scream at our partner for not replacing the toilet roll.

The shield around our feelings begins to crack, and we take it out on those closest to us.

Get Comfy with ‘Bad’ Emotions

Nigel McFarlane, psychotherapist and holistic counsellor of the Ayusha Wellbeing Clinic says we need to be able to experience pain, fear, shame, loneliness, and sadness, and not run away from them. Instead of slapping on your happy mask or turning to wine on a lonely night, what if you could just experience feeling lonely while reminding yourself you’re complete within yourself?

why is emotion bad

If we experience these feelings, and can see them objectively, we’re less likely to be overwhelmed by them. We come to know them, and without latching onto them, we can see them come and go as they will do throughout our lives.

Think of it like meditation. Many meditations teach you to notice your thoughts as they come, but try to watch them pass you by, rather than digging deeper into the thought. Of course, if you’ve experienced trauma or are struggling with elements of your past, seeking help from a trained professional is the best place to start.

Take responsibility for your feelings

own your feelings guys

Pia Mellody, an incredible professional working with addiction and co-dependency says your feelings are yours. No one can make you feel a certain way.

Have you ever heard someone say “I didn’t want to do it, but she made me.” These statements always sound ridiculous don't they? You know no one can make you do something you don’t want to do, much like no one can make you feel a certain way. Pia Mellody suggests changing the way you communicate feelings and taking ownership of them, rather than blaming them on others.

eg. When you came home and slammed the door, you made me furious. You’re so selfish you knew I was sleeping.

The response to this will never be good. But what about this?

eg. I'm feeling angry about last night and I wanted to tell you so I can move on. When you came home and slammed the door I felt angry. I was asleep and I also got a fright. 

Ultimately though, not latching onto our emotions can be difficult, particularly when we’re having a tough time in many areas of our lives. Here are some ways to make it easier:

1. Yoga

Yoga not only teaches you to stay calm in the face of stress with metered breathing, it also teaches you to appreciate your body and what it can do. This helps to build that understanding of ‘inner self’ so when you’re lonely, you don’t feel worthless. You feel alone in yourself, but that self is pretty great!

Yoga/Pilates fusion at an Aprivé Wellness Retreat 

Yoga/Pilates fusion at an Aprivé Wellness Retreat 

2. Breathing and meditation

There are now hundreds of medical journals showing the benefits meditation has on the mind; not just for clarity of thought, but in conflict resolution, ability to problem solve and to control your thoughts. Luckily, the benefits aren't only cognitive. 

Meditation and breathing also changes the parasympathetic nervous system response and switches off your stress response to help keep you calm, which means when you experience tough emotions, you’re able to observe them in a controlled way, rather than become overwhelmed.

Aprivé Wellness Meditation.jpg

3. Remind yourself emotions are good

Feelings and emotions are how we’re able to experience love and joy, but fear and loneliness are also huge part of our lives. Instead of putting on your mask, try sitting with your feelings; whether they’re happy or sad. Notice how it feels to experience them, and see them as a part of you that ebbs and flows.  Don't condemn yourself, or others for showing emotion. 

4. Share your feelings with people close to you

Sharing feelings is tough, and makes us feel weak and vulnerable, but maybe that’s what it takes to have a more meaningful life?

I’m certainly no master at acknowledging emotions. I’m much more of a ‘put on a happy face and get on with it’ kinda gal, but after being lucky to have worked in holistic wellbeing around the world for the past few years, I’m learning the bandaid fix is not sustainable. We have to deal with those things we’ve buried away as they’ll find their way up to the surface when we least expect.

One part of dealing with those things is telling the ones we love how we feel; not just negatives but positives too. This creates real, meaningful connections with the people around us. Communicating emotions can open us up to those true friendships and partnerships that generate the emotional support many people in the Western world are searching for.

what are emotions

As the West looks to the East for more and more spiritual guidance, we’re learning that looking inside ourselves and noticing our emotions, then dealing with our own inner pain and not being shy to share it could be the key to happier, more fulfilling lives.

What do you think?

4 Small Changes for a Happier, Healthier You

With so many wellness pros around the world, we chatted to one special woman, Pazit Barak, who helps people from around the world enhance their health and wellbeing at her retreats in Cambodia. Here are her top wellness tips.

Tips for a Healthy New Year with Pazit Barak

Long working hours, lunch on the go and minimal sleep has become a normal way of life in today’s western society. Balancing work, family and friends as well as finding time for ourselves seems almost impossible.  However, finding time for ourselves is vital, yet somehow we put it on the back burner behind looking after everyone else. As Eleanor Brownn once said “Self-care is not selfish, you cannot serve from an empty vessel.”

When we push ourselves to the limit on a daily basis we slowly become more and more drained. We start getting aching, lethargic, can develop skin problems, anxiety and even depression.

For most of us, a demanding lifestyle is unavoidable, but the good thing is that we don’t have to change our lives completely to improve it. If you can make the time, signing up for a yoga and meditation retreat is a great way to reset and re-balance. However, the following small changes take up little time, can be integrated into your daily life and are guaranteed to result in a happier, healthier and more positive you.

 1.     Regulate your sleeping pattern

health resort spa

In Chinese medicine and throughout the practice of yoga we are taught that our bodies are at one with the universe and flow to the same natural rhythm. It is believed that when we fall out of sync with the universe and become disconnected that our energy levels drop. With this in mind, it is recommended that to shine our brightest we should rise just before the sun and sleep when it sets or no later than 10pm.

In Ayruvedic medicine it is understood that before sunrise the hours are governed by air and space, making us feel lighter and providing us with support for the day. After sunrise the hours are run by water and earth making us feel heavier and less energised.

Eight hours of sleep in total works out perfectly. If you do not feel like this is possible in one go, take an hour and a half nap in the day if you can, no more and no less. This is a full sleep cycle and will leave you feeling rejuvenated.

2. Exercise for 5 minutes a day

You’re probably wondering how 5 minutes of exercise a day could possibly make a difference, but trust us, it does. Whether you, walk, skip, stretch or practice yoga they are all great. Just make sure you are consistent and you will see a shift in how you feel both mentally and physically.

By being active each day, even for such a short amount of time, you will improve your overall fitness including cardiovascular health, burn off stress resulting in an elevated mood and even increase brain power. Make sure to pay attention to your breath for a more powerful practice and a deeper connection between the body and mind.

3.) Practice self-love

health resort spa

Every day we are mindful about how we treat others and try to always consider the outcome of our actions but, sadly, we do not tend to behave the same way when it comes to how we treat ourselves.

Today, in the West especially, we are constantly working towards the next achievement, living in competition with others and ourselves. Whether it’s a higher paid salary, a bigger house or a new car. The list goes on. We rarely, if ever, take the time to sit back and realise what we already have and how much we have already achieved.

Take a few minutes each day, at the same time if you can, to write down five amazing things about yourself. It can be anything from you inherent strengths to something wonderful you’ve achieved. Write it down, reflect on it and appreciate how great you are.

4.) Spend 20 minutes in nature

The setting of Aprivé Wellness'  January Retreat

The setting of Aprivé Wellness' January Retreat

It doesn’t have to be in the up a mountain or on a tropical beach, it can simply be your garden or the nearest park. We spend so much time in offices, houses, shops and transport we can forget how beautiful nature can be and how embracing it can benefit us.

Trees and plants are our best friends, our life source. Being amongst them cleanses our system as well as our soul. Venturing out barefoot can also help ground you as well as allow your body to absorb minerals from the earth. So get out there, connect with the universe and feel free!

We know this may not be easy to start with but give it a go for a few weeks and see how you feel. Fully embrace each change. Be consistent but if you do miss one, don’t be hard on yourself. You will still see change. You will still feel the difference. If you punish yourself you will only feel tension. Simply learn from it and change it for the next time.

By being mindful of your surroundings, taking time for yourself and being proud of who you are, you’ll feel lighter, happier and stronger. As Buddha once said “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”.

About the author - Pazit

The Temple Retreat

Pazit is a yoga and meditation practitioner and teacher as well as holistic healing therapist. She specializes in Reiki, Pranic healing and Reflexology. She is also a theatre coach and life coach at Vagabond Temple Yoga & Meditation Retreat in Cambodia.