This month, we offer this article by Gay and Kathleen Hendricks, internationally renowned authors and teachers of conscious living and relationship. We trained with the Hendricks for two years and incorporate many of their concepts and tools into our own work with individuals and couples.
You have a certain super power within you. This power can produce two very different outcomes: It can subconsciously drive your life and your relationships, leaving you confused and frustrated. Or, you can consciously use this power to your advantage. This power flows through your emotions. More importantly, your ability to detect and understand your emotions are a powerful asset or liability in the connection you have in your relationships.
The problem is that reading our own emotions is tricky, and expressing them can be even more challenging. When you’re feeling a difficult emotion, all you know is that you want it to go away. We deny our anger because we think anger is “bad” and we don’t know how to express it. We stuff our sadness down, or try to make ourselves happy with some kind of quick fix or distraction. This conditioning to ignore our emotions has made it very difficult for us to know what we are even feeling.
Our automatic responses kick in, and we end up acting on the emotions reflexively without ever even understanding them. And because we don’t truly understand exactly what we are feeling, we lash out or make decisions that hurt us and our relationships.
Even though you’ve been feeling your emotions your whole life, you probably don’t actually know exactly what it is you’re feeling and why.
Men learn to repress fear and sadness, while women get conditioned to hide their anger. A woman might feel depressed because she feels overwhelmed with motherhood, but deep down she’s actually angry at her husband for not being more proactive. Instead of expressing her anger, she bottles it up and it comes out in other ways: she doesn’t want to have sex, she’s impatient with him, or she pulls away and turns to friends to support. He knows something is wrong, but doesn’t know what it is, and intimacy breaks down.
A man might get mad at his wife for talking to a handsome stranger, and he’ll lash out or sulk or withhold affection. But anger isn’t at the heart of his behavior — fear is. He’s worried he might lose her, and inadvertently drives her away with his misdiagnosed anger.
You’ll be a hostage to your emotions unless you understand how they are secretly running your life. But decoding them isn’t always easy, especially after years and years of suppressing them, not understanding them, and letting them run you without your conscious knowledge.
Luckily, you have a built-in emotion decoder that’s always available to you. And this emotion decoder is at the heart of all of our teachings, because it works faster than your brain, and is virtually foolproof when you know how to use it. We all have it, but we’re conditioned to ignore it.
Fortunately, we can quickly learn how to undo this negative programming, and tap into the power of our most valuable emotional asset: our body. Your body is intimately connected to your emotions. Before you can even name a feeling, your body has already registered it. In fact, your body is so finely attuned to your emotions, that it’s the best translator you have for what’s really going on for you.
Your body is constantly giving you cues to help you understand what you’re really feeling. Think about the heavy feeling in your chest after you’ve lost someone you cared about. Or the tightness in your throat just before you go on stage. Remember the last time your stomach was in knots when you were worried about something.
These connections between your emotions and your body are quite straightforward. But your body may be sending you other messages that are much more subtle. For instance, did you know that chronic headaches are often linked to unresolved anger, and that stomach issues tend to show up out of deep-seated fear? This might sound hocus pocus or New Age-y, but we’ve seen it happen all the time. And that’s because it’s impossible to fully repress strong emotions like these. Emotions have energy, and if you don’t fully allow yourself to feel them and express them, they show up in body symptoms.
And these misunderstood emotions mess up your relationships. Aside from the discomfort these body sensations cause, repressed emotions make themselves known in other ways, like passive aggressive comments, emotional withdrawal, cheating, lying, and impatience. Yet we often bypass what our bodies are trying to tell us. We use our intellect to think our way through emotion.
But analyzing emotions doesn’t work – unless you learn to listen to what your body is really telling you, you won’t know what you’re really feeling. And you’ll make decisions that aren’t in the best interest of what you and your relationships truly need.
Bring two people into a relationship with their own confusing set of emotions, and you can see why keeping a positive connection can be so difficult.
In their programs, Kristine and Barry will teach you how your emotions are driving you and how to express them so that you can build the intimacy and connection you want. Visit their web site here: ChooseConsciousLiving.com