The key to successful healing is the understanding and the acceptance of feeling all emotions. In short, you need to allow yourself to feel if you want to heal.
Healing allows our emotions to be a self-expression of what is happening both in our internal world and external worlds, rather than the two worlds being in entirely difference spaces.
Often, the ‘external self’ does not allow the expression of feelings, as we try to protect ourselves from what was, or is, happening. But this only does more damage.
All emotions are important to your healing
Taken to the extreme, a shutdown of emotions can lead to physical illness, depression, anxiety (including anxiety attacks), panic attacks, flashbacks and nightmares. All of this is our internal self struggling to be acknowledged and to be listened to.
Many survivors spend their time trying to deny their emotions, not realising this is what has led to their depression and anxiety.
Allowing ourselves to feel and express emotion is critical. All emotions are important to your healing – there are no negative emotions.
When we release an emotion, it cannot overwhelm us. It is only when we try to suppress an emotion that it feels overwhelming and causes us great damage.
A simple tool to help you identify what you are feeling
Some survivors find it hard to even know what they are feeling. This is because they have suppressed their true feelings for so long, or they never learned from caregivers that it was okay to feel and to express their feelings.
Some survivors are so inexperienced at feeling that they can’t even recognise a feeling or name it. With this in mind, a necessary first step is to learn ways to recognise what the feeling is.
If you have difficulty recognising what you are feeling, you might find the chart below helpful. You can look at it whenever you aren’t sure what the emotion or feeling is.
It might be a good idea to print it out and put it up on a wall or on your fridge. You may even find it helpful to draw the emotions for yourself.
Other useful ways to identify your feelings
When you cannot identify a feeling, it can help to ask yourself: If the feeling had a colour, what colour would it be? Does the feeling have a shape or texture? Sometimes, trying to visualise helps us connect to the feeling.
Another way is to take deep breaths to connect with what you are feeling. A word may come to you, like ‘frightened’. If you say out loud, ‘I am frightened’, the feeling often follows.
Once you have a word for the feeling, you can acknowledge the feeling, release it and then comfort yourself – often with reassurance that the feeling is from childhood and not from what is happening in the present. Learning how to release your emotions is discussed in more detail in Heal For Life.
Identifying and validating your feelings every day leads to empowerment
Every morning and evening, identify and validate how you are feeling. You can do this by looking into the mirror and telling yourself how you are feeling, knowing you can choose to change how you are feeling if you really want to.
Notice when something really upsets you and then consider where this may have come from in your childhood. You can also follow the Heal For Life Process to avoid feeling upset by a similar situation in the future.
Learn more about healing and trauma recovery...
Heal For Life, by Liz Mullinar
How to Heal Yourself from the Pain of Childhood Trauma and Abuse
This practical guidebook for survivors of childhood trauma or abuse, presents the Heal For Life model of trauma-informed self healing that has already empowered thousands of survivors to find inner peace and hope for a brighter future. This book is highly recommended by survivors and mental health professionals alike.