Have you ever felt super emotional? Like, really sad, really angry, really overwhelmed/frustrated/exhausted by your feelings and wondered why the heck you can’t just get-it-together?! (🙋🏻)

Well, today we are so fortunate to have a guest writer, the wonderful Courtenay Crucil, back on the blog, reminding us why feel the way we do, in the form of a moving love letter.lineGetting to the heart of emotions: A love letter

Nothing can feel more invalidating than someone telling you to stop feeling a certain way, or, to just be happy? There seems to be a common belief that we can simply take control of our emotions and change the way that we feel, but Affective Neuroscience is proving that this is actually not the case.

While there are things that we can do to regulate our emotions, positively impact our mood, or increase our overall wellbeing, we cannot change our core emotions.

Core emotions are hard-wired into the brain and they are not within our conscious control. They originate as body sensations and give us direct information about our environment and our experiences. And, they trigger physiological responses that prime us for action.

So, given that February is the month of love, I wanted to write a love letter to Emotions, because the more I learn about them, the more I am in awe of their incredible power and guidance… and frankly, I WANT TO SPREAD THE LOVE.

So, here it goes:

Dear Emotions,

Happy (belated) Valentines Day! I want to give you a mega shout-out for everything that you do to make my life more meaningful and fulfilling. We’ve been together for 30 years, and it has been an interesting ride. I think I spent the first 17 years working hard to avoid you. Or, at least parts of you, like… sadness and anger.

And then, we got up close and personal, I did a lot of my own healing work, and we became better acquainted. Throughout the journey, I learned how to notice and express your core seven states: sadness, fear, anger, joy, excitement, lust/sexual excitement, and disgust. Not only have I learned to co-exist with you, but I’ve learned about the incredible insight that can come when I create space for you in myself, and with my clients.

It still amazes me that each emotion creates physiological responses in the body that prime us for action. With sadness comes a need to cry, mourn or seek comfort. When experiencing fear, we need to seek protection and flee from danger. When met with anger we experience a drive to fight, defend or assert ourselves.

When overwhelmed with disgust, we have an urge to expel or reject something. At times of surprise, we might need to pay fresh attention and stay open to what is true. And in moments of joy, we are drawn to expand, connect, engage and experience pleasure. Because of you (and these action tendencies) we have been able to adapt, evolve and survive. So, THANKS FOR KEEPING HUMANS ALIVE!

Sometimes it can be difficult to access and express you. It has become normal for us to avoid you, or to keep you at bay. Inhibitory emotions, such as guilt, shame, and anxiety, block you from our awareness. They might tell us that you are not safe, nor welcomed by the important people in our lives (like our parents, partners or friends).

At those times, we do all sorts of things to exclude you from our experience, like intellectualizing, distracting ourselves, over-eating, under-eating, using jokes or sarcasm, having too much screen time, or procrastinating (to name a few).

But, even if we have excluded you from our awareness most of our lives, we can welcome you back and celebrate the reunion when we feel safe enough to do so. As Diana Fosha says, “the roots of resilience…are to be found in the sense of being understood by and existing in the mind and heart of a loving, attuned, and self-possessed other.”

And thanks to neuroplasticity, moments like these can change our brains for the better… because neurons that fire together wire together!

So, I want to thank you for your patience and for continuing to show up in our bodies, even if we don’t always notice or express you! The more I trust in your abilities and create the space for you to be felt, the more expansion, healing and knowing I see in my clients and myself, so THANK YOU! May you continue to risk being known, and trust how important you are!

With love,

Connect with Courtenay

Courtenay Crucil, M.A. is a Registered Clinical Counsellor in private practice on the unceded territory of the Snuneymuxw nation (in Nanaimo, British Columbia). Her clinical specialties lie in interpersonal trauma, attachment, and ecotherapy. Courtenay now offers virtual counselling – so if you’re interested in working with her, you can do so from the comfort of your own couch. Get in touch with Courtenay here.

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