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A comprehensive list of articles about the principles of holistic wellness written by our practitioners.

Emotions & Psychological Health

By Dr Elinor van Ommen.

“Am I too sensitive?” , “why can’t I move on from this?”… these are common questions I hear, and I often meet people who are in distress that relates to difficulty processing emotion.

What do I mean by “processing emotion”? Emotions are normal feelings that come and go in a relatively short amount of time. Or to be more precise, when we are in a state of more optimal functioning, our emotions are fluid: - they come and go but no one particular emotion will dominate our landscape in an unhelpful way. Normal exceptions might be during a time of grief where we feel the “typical” grief feelings in a process will tend to linger for months (a slower state of flow) depending on the severity of the loss. In general, when emotions get stuck for longer than is helpful, or are denied and repressed, we tend to find that physical or psychological problems will manifest. When we can’t let go of worry, and we amplify our concerns, we find ourselves in a state of anxiety and frequent prolonged states of anxiety create certain wear and tear in the physical body. Another example might be when we have experienced sadness and judged it as ‘wrong’ or ‘weak’ we can build a defensive wall of anger around the sadness, and find ourselves short-tempered and lashing out at people we care about. Or we can become totally identified with sadness and loss and descend into a state of hopelessness and depression that blocks our ability to connect with life.

Healthy emotional functioning is when we can feel whatever we feel without judging it. There so many social “rules” that get in the way of this normal flow of emotion and we can absorb these attitudes without even knowing it, common ones are :- “boys don’t cry” or “good girls shouldn’t feel irritated/angry”… and many more. Dropping all the “shoulds” can really boost emotional wellbeing. I’m not saying we drop all moral codes, but the rules about how to feel are not helpful. Sometimes we judge an emotion as so very justifiable that we refuse to let it go. This might be when we have been ‘wronged’ in some way and decide that hanging on to the anger will somehow keep us safe from future emotional pain (really, hanging on to anger usually winds up creating more pain). Hanging on to any wisdom attained from the experience can be good, but not the anger. It may take a different focus, but we can simply feel what we feel, without judging it and then move forward.

 

A combination of factors are at play in emotional distress. Firstly, there is usually some kind of trigger – an external event or an internal thought process, that sparks an emotional response. The things that stop this emotion from flowing freely are usually related to our mental chatter – the thoughts we have that place meaning on things that either amplify the ‘problem’ or diminish our view of our own ability to handle the situation. Or more typically a combination of both. So we simultaneously inflate our perception of the problem and deflate any appreciation of our own abilities to cope.

Learning to process emotions is greatly supported by living life from a state of basic self-acceptance. Starting with the premise that a human life is worthwhile, and that MY human life is worthwhile. A simple affirmation like “I’m a decent person and I’m having a go at life” can really help (any affirmation is more useful when it’s in your own words). This aligns us to a positive view of self. From here, with feet planted firmly on the ground (connected to the present moment) and a sense of myself as a more enduring presence than simply being defined by the most recent thought, or emotion that I just had, then much more is possible. These things are fundamental starting premise for psychological balance. I AM the context in which my thoughts and emotions happen. I am NOT defined by them. I am accepting of myself and I choose to maintain a sense of self-acceptance, self-worth, and self-love.

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Emotions & Psychological [...]

By Dr Elinor van Ommen.

“Am I too sensitive?” , “why can’t I move on from this?”… these are common questions I hear, and I often meet people who are in distress that relates to difficulty processing emotion.

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