Emotional awareness - Integrating alternative wisdom
"It's not what happens to us but how we
Emotional awareness therapies work with the symptoms that arise from negative life experiences. The feelings from these experiences can actually disrupt the way our brains work! People who seek therapy might feel confused, unhappy, edgy, or dissatisfied or be unable to work, sleep, maintain relationships, or be pain-free. Many symptoms are after-effects of emotional trauma. Yet emotional trauma remains largely unseen or ignored as the source of such suffering.
According to the most recent Surgeon General's Report, 16 million adults in the United States ages 18 to 54 suffer from reoccurring anxiety. Every year, more than 11 million Americans are diagnosed with depression likely to recur throughout their lives. Millions more are unable to get permanent relief from reoccurring physical problems. Many people are in a lot of pain that can be explained by emotional trauma, but not enough of them know it!
Studies suggest that trauma can cause neurological disruptions that result in a "disconnect" among thoughts, feelings, and actions. This explains why, once we've been traumatized, a similar experience can rekindle our original feelings-again and again and again! When neural disconnection occurs, we feel overwhelmed, alone, and cut off from the help and support of others.
A revolutionary realization is that the brain remains plastic, or flexible, throughout life--something considered impossible until recently. This lifelong flexibility allows us to treat and end suffering, rather than merely treat the symptoms.
A variety of modalities have developed, all with three common elements: They are body-based; they reconnect us with "core feelings"; they require interaction with a trusted "other." All the new practices rely on bodily sensations and emotions to engage the non-verbal right hemisphere of the brain. Recognizing the experience throughout our bodies allows us to identify "core feelings."
Core feelings are biologically driven, primary emotions that arise naturally and move through us rapidly. We are born with these feelings. They energize and inform our lives by connecting us to our instincts, our intuition, and the motivation to act on our own behalf. When we're scared, we run; if we're angry, we fight; if sad, we cry and feel relieved. When our core feelings are unavailable, we tend to protect ourselves with secondary emotions: We may sense sadness or anxiety when our core or true feeling is anger or fear.
Trauma and loss are a part of life. It is not what happens to us that holds us back but how we respond in a crisis. The more aware we are of triggers and resulting symptoms, the more easily we can overcome them. In doing so, we open new doors to healing old mental, emotional, physical, and social problems. We give our lives more focus, energy, connection, meaning, and spirituality.
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