Healing Solutions For You - Alternative and Integrative Healing Practices

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Emotional Growth: A Missing Link to Health – Part II

Emotions and thought patterns are an important link to our health. They affect our physical and spiritual health. Without mental/emotional health we cannot be balanced individuals. In order to achieve this balance, we must deal with our thoughts and emotions in a constructive way. In his book, “The Celestine Prophesy”, James Redfield talks about different dysfunctional ways that people try to interact with others and deal with their emotions: by attacking (blowing up), being aloof (avoiding things/holding things in) and poor me syndrome (complaining/whining/being high maintenance). As I highlighted in my past article, there are many additional patterns that we follow or things that we do when we don’t deal with our emotions in a healthy way. However, we can choose emotional/mental health instead of dysfunction. In this article, I seek to demonstrate some practical tools which we can use to create that healthy balance.

How Not to Hold Things In
There are certain topics we tend to avoid as a society such as aging and death. Many people feel uncomfortable talking about or will even broach the subject of end of life care. People who have had serious illnesses describe how they discovered who their real friends were as many of their previous friends felt uncomfortable around them or didn’t know what to say so avoided them altogether. Although we are becoming more comfortable discussing things such as living wills and wills, I believe we need to start a society-wide dialogue about these things. After all, they are a normal part of the cycle of life.
Holding things in eats us on the inside just like a cancer. Learning how to communicate with others in a constructive way can help us to voice our concerns and come to a positive resolution. I highly recommend the book “Nonviolent Communication” by Marshall Rosenburg. It provides concrete tools for communication with others as well as ways to overcome negative self-talk. There are many Nonviolent Communication (aka NVC or Compassionate Communication) study circles and trainings, as well, around the nation and world. The study circles are forums where people can hone their NVC skills. I have personally successfully used NVC to stop a sexual harassment situation. Another time, I was absolutely livid about a situation with my bosses at work. I knew if I spoke to them with the anger that I felt, the situation wouldn’t get resolved and I might even be fired. Using NVC, I was successfully able to voice my grievances, they compassionately responded (which astounded me because it was out of character) and the situation was resolved. Sometimes, all it takes to resolve a situation is to say something. Speaking up can be helpful because people might not think or feel the way you do. They may be happy to change something. You’ll never know unless you speak up. Just make sure to speak compassionately so that your message will be heard.
There are times when it is not appropriate to broach a subject. Then the thing to do is to find a way and time to discuss it later. There are people who because of their life experience, culture or personality might not ever listen. If you really cannot broach a subject with someone then you must find a way to heal that emotion within yourself: a new way to look at the situation or a new way to interact positively with that person.

How Not to Blow Up
Blowing up is the result of things reaching a breaking point from being held in, a reaction to stress or the result of poor anger management. The way to prevent things from reaching breaking point is to deal with them before they build up. The way to deal with stress or to manage anger is to find ways to diffuse and decompress. Numbing doesn’t count because it causes additional problems! Get regular massages, exercise tension away, walk away and count to ten, breathe deeply, anything that is healthy for you and is supportive to others too. Try various things and find what works for you. I don’t like the word “anger management” (I use it because simply for ease of communication) because to me it implies that anger is something to be suppressed instead of dealt with. Allowing yourself time and space to decompress can reduce the intensity of the emotion. This allows you to think more rationally and clearly enabling you to address the situation with wisdom and compassion. When angry, consider what it really is that is causing you to be angry instead of immediately deciding that it’s the other person’s fault. Maybe their behavior or personality remind you of someone else, maybe it reminds you of an old situation that you are still mad about. Once you realize the source, try to look at this situation as a unique situation. If you cannot, then perhaps you need to discuss together how you can interact on a positive level so that these things don’t arise again. I highly suggest NVC for that. NVC also helps to remind you that it doesn’t matter the person or situation, it is how you choose to react that can result in a positive or negative impact to yourself.

Avoiding Passive Aggression
Passive aggression is completely unnecessary. Deal with your stuff internally. Catch your own thought patterns and measure your own responses. Then, interact with others in a constructive manner.

Avoiding Denial!
Carl Jung said, “What you resist persists.” Ignoring issues don’t make them go away. Let’s use procrastination as an example. If you were to procrastinate on doing the laundry and dishes for a month, they would pile up. You would run out of clean clothes and dishes to use. The house would begin to stink. What if you procrastinated on something more important like the bills for several months? The electricity might get turned off, the water might get cut off, you might be evicted. Our emotions and issues are the same. Not only do problems persist if we don’t deal with them but they get worse and cause additional problems. For example, if a couple avoids talking about how they’ve drifted apart, it might turn into an affair or even a divorce.
Being aloof is one way in which people actively avoid people and situations which might prove painful to them. The subconscious reason people act aloof is that if they are antisocial, people won’t approach them (ie can’t hurt them). The Truth is that by avoiding people and situations they are avoiding life and preventing themselves from living. Our internal dialogue and our own reactions are the real cause of our pain. Rather than avoiding life, we must engage constructively with it.

Numbing No More
Numbing is an emotionally and physically unhealthy way to deal with unpleasant emotions or issues. It is another method of holding things in and avoiding them. It is not necessary to be working on issues 24/7 as long as you generally deal with them. If you need some time to simply relax and decompress there are many healthy activities to choose from: sports, exercise, board games, cooking, reading, playing with your kids.

Its All in the Interpretation
A major key to our own pain or issues is our interpretation of things. Human beings are unique with unique life experiences, thought processes and ways of communicating. Sometimes we are hurt simply by our own perception of a situation or because we speak or behave in a different manner (ie attach different meanings to a phrase or action) than the person we are interacting with. When in doubt, ask. You may discover there is no reason to be hurt, upset, jealous, etc. Even if there is, you can still choose how you let it affect you with your own internal dialogue.

New Vantage Points
A new way to look at a situation can work to relieve anxiety or stress from a problem or situation. For example, I use to work at health food stores before I went to holistic school. At one point, I couldn’t find a job at any health food store. I ended up working in a grooming salon. I was so angry that the universe had forced me into working there. It was hard, dirty work. I would be pushing, pulling, and lifting terrified, aggressive or untrained dogs in and out of kennels. Many of them were over 100 pounds. When I started massage school, my massage teacher suggested that by working there I had been preparing my body for the physical work of massage. Wow! What a difference a different point of view made!

Flower Essence Therapy
Flower essences can help make the growth process smoother and easier. Flower essences bring awareness to thought patterns that do not serve us and can even help us overcome some things without our even noticing. We can do our part by paying attention to what issues are being brought to the surface. They back us up by supporting us to think in new ways and engraining those new more supportive thoughts.

Consider This
It is easy to want to avoid painful thoughts or use dysfunctional methods to deal with our issues. Dealing with our issues can certainly be difficult in the beginning just like when we start exercising for the first time. We are rusty at first; our progression comes in bits and spurts even with occasional regressions. The reason is that at first we usually have bigger issues to deal with often relating back to our childhood. These are old and deeply ingrained issues. It’s like trying to pull out dandelions without breaking the taproots – very hard to do! Once we start to overcome some big issues and gain a little experience in growth work, things become easier and quicker to work through. Instead of struggling to overcome major barriers we are just polishing and refining our behavior and beliefs.

Emotional growth work is hard but it is so worth it! Negative thought patterns create smoke shields which prevent us from seeing the Truth. When we have unhealed issues, we approach life looking through this smoke. Therefore, we cannot see or even imagine the possibilities of people, situations or life except through this limiting view. Clearing our issues allows us to see things through a new vantage point and can open up endless possibilities. Another universe Truth: the possibilities are endless; this is backed up by quantum physics. Countless things have been invented; people have accomplished amazing things that others have said were impossible because they were looking through their life-limiting smoke shield. Life is so much happier and more exciting when you are able to look at the possibilities rather than limitations.

All content 2007 Healing Solutions, Healing Solutions for You and Serenity Dylan, all rights reserved. Contact Us.