How to Heal and Process an Emotion


Have you ever wondered what emotions are good for, anyway?

And what happens when you refuse to deal with an emotion?

Let’s say you feel sad about something, now. Growing up, if you showed sadness or cried, it made your parents feel uncomfortable. Feeling sad made you bad for making them feel uncomfortable. (You can substitute any other feeling you “weren’t allowed” to feel.)

If you were male and you cried, you may have been told, one way or another, to toughen up.

If you grew up this way, what are you likely to do with that present sad feeling?

If you let yourself feel it, you might find guilt being added to it (because when you felt sad in childhood and other people didn’t like it, you came to believe your feeling sad made someone else feel bad). Or shame (“I’m bad for feeling sad and causing a problem for someone else”).

Perhaps now you try to stuff it, or escape from it, or somehow numb it out. Many people use drugs, alcohol, shopping, etc.–any kind of escape or addiction–to drown out the feelings they were never allowed to have.

The truth is, feelings can never really be extinguished. They are energy, and that energy has to go somewhere. They can be “walled off,” but they will just go live on the other side of the wall.

And on that other side of the wall, they can do much covert damage.

When you disregard an emotion, Dr. Jonice Webb says, “you are actually empowering it. Ignoring, pushing away, or walling off a feeling may seem to make it go away but it’s the feelings you’re the least aware of that can affect you without your knowledge.”

One way they can affect you is physically. For many of us, especially Highly Sensitive People, the feelings literally go into the body, and can cause illness and disease.

What are Feelings Good For, Anyway?

Having grown up in a household where most feelings were ignored–at least my feelings were–I came to believe feelings weren’t important. They were kind of frills, you know? Some people had more of them, and enjoyed them. I would just as soon go without.

Or so I thought. Until I began to be diagnosed with physical ailments. Once I decided I didn’t want to take pills (and experience their side effects all my life), I got serious about pursuing health.

That’s when I discovered the connection between emotions and physical health. I realized I couldn’t ignore emotions after all.

But really, what were they good for? I was somewhat mystified.

I understood you have to heal the negative emotions or they could make you sick. But why do we even have them?

One clue comes from reading the Scriptures. God has lots of feelings. We’re made in God’s image. So, there’s a reason for feelings.

As I’ve healed, I’ve come to see feelings as a tremendous gift. Feelings are valuable messages from our deepest self. When we learn to process our emotions, we listen to the messages from our soul. We honor ourselves, we get to know ourselves.

Your feelings are a big part of what make you unique. When you’re in touch with your feelings, you begin to know who you are. When you share your feelings with another person, they begin to know who you are. The relationship is strengthened.

How to Process “Negative” Emotions

Let’s get back to the original example: feeling sad. If you feel sad about something and don’t want to ignore it, what do you do?

You let yourself feel it. The only way you can make it go away is to let yourself feel it. (Why did it take me so long to learn this??)

Once, in prayer, these words came to me: “You have to feel it, so we can heal it.” “We” meaning God and me, I guess. It’s a partnership. My part is to feel it, God’s is to heal it.

How does he heal it? By being with us while we’re feeling it. In the presence of God, you sit with the feeling, and ask him to help you understand it, know why you’re feeling it, what it means, what it’s telling you.

You might journal about it, if you’re so inclined. Or just allow yourself to sit with it in God’s presence.

I love the Psalms, because most all of them are examples of how to do this with God. Most of the Psalms were written by King David. He would start off by saying exactly how he felt (and it’s not always pretty!). As he pours out his heart to God, you can begin to see some shifts. He moves from his own feelings and perspective, to a sense of who God is. David finds comfort as he considers who God is, and he begins to get God’s perspective.  By the end of the psalm, he’s usually singing God’s praises. Talk about going from “low vibration” to “high vibration”! You see that everywhere in the Psalms.

It’s also very healing if you can do this kind of processing with another safe person. As my husband and I have been working through “Comfort Circles” recommended in How We Love, it has healed us and drawn us closer together.

You can learn so much by exploring your emotions. Often they are your soul, even God, giving you important information about your life.

For instance, anger can tell you something is wrong. Sadness and grief help you realize how much someone or something meant to you. Fear (False Evidence Appearing Real) can point you to wrong beliefs that need to be corrected.

An ironic thing happens with emotions. When you try to avoid the negative, you also dampen the positive. Once you learn to process the negative emotions, you also open yourself up to all the positive feelings. Don’t be surprised if you feel more love, joy, peace, tenderness, and a myriad of other wonderful emotions also coming in.

It’s like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, stepping from the black-and-white world into a world of color. Who knew it could be this wonderful?

If you need help in processing your emotions, check out my coaching at https://healingcodescoaching.com. I have a special Tracking Sheet I use with clients, where you can use to explore your feelings and the roots of them, and heal all parts of the “four-part program.

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