Can you recognize what your body feels?
Did you ever feel so anxious that you felt sick to your stomach? Do you ever feel so angry that you felt like your head was literally going to explode? Have you felt so joyful that you got butterflies in your stomach? Can you recognize your body’s feelings? We tend to forget this, but our emotions evoke physiological reactions in ourselves. This is something that has been taught to us over the hundreds of thousands of years humanity has been on earth. When we experience great emotion, a physical reaction and feeling are there to accompany it. We have those in order for us to experience what this emotion is telling us. Sometimes trauma causes these physical feelings to linger long after the event has taken place.
Think about individuals with PTSD for a second. While the traumatic event in these individuals is only a distant memory, the memories can still evoke unpleasant feelings. And sometimes physical reactions occur just by thinking about the memory. Often times they experience something in their environment that is not directly related to the memory and still have a full-body experience of the trauma. While at times these reactions can be pleasant, there are times when these reactions can be unbearable and make us feel unwelcoming feelings.
Are you recognizing your body’s feelings? How do we deal with them?
I have a technique that I teach my clients to help regulate their physiological feelings. And that is for them to close their eyes, take a slow and deep breath, and place their hand on where they are experiencing intense feelings. By doing this you recognize that part of your body isn’t feeling comfortable. And you help give it comfort. Almost in a way like you are trying to comfort a scared child by saying “it is going to be alright! Do not worry!”. You start to notice that the uncomfortable feelings start to become more bearable. While it won’t go away 100%, it becomes more manageable and easier to cope with until you talk to your therapist about your physical and emotional feelings.
Arbin Memisi, LPC, NCC, MA Staff Therapist