Flow of Emotional Intelligence - Appreciating the Gift of our Emotions
While most of us appreciate our good feelings, we often try to push away the negative ones, hoping to feel good all of the time. We learn to ignore our so-called negative emotions, stuff them down with food or other addictive substances, or be victims of them, swinging wildly from emotion to emotion with little understanding or ability to integrate what they were trying to tell us. However, even unpleasant feelings are part of our dynamic flow and can help us to increase our health and vitality.
Our thoughts and emotions are powerful and can lead to strong - and sometimes uncomfortable - sensations. In our ongoing natural attempts to move away from pain and toward comfort, our subconscious will label some thoughts or emotions as “bad.” As a result, we shy away from them and, over time, become more and more reluctant to experience them. In the worst instances, unprocessed emotions manifest in behavior that is destructive or self-destructive. We truly limit ourselves when we refuse to experience some of our emotions when they come up.
Sometimes the discomfort of challenging emotions causes us to stuff them deep down inside and try to lock them away. For some people, alternating between no emotional flow and excessive emotional flow seems normal but because there is no balanced flow, those emotions accumulate and build up pressure mentally and physically. Eventually, they may burst out despite our best efforts, which can be cathartic but also scary if we don’t have tools for processing what’s happening.
You may be thinking that experiencing positive emotions such as joy, kindness, and courage is well and good, but that you do not particularly want to experience impatience, anger, or sadness. It is easy for us to understand the benefits of our positive emotions because they feel good, but it can be more difficult for us to acknowledge the gifts that our challenging emotions bring as well. Often, it is the discomfort of negative emotions that awaken us to their presence and increase our awareness of what needs our attention. And it is that same discomfort that creates motivation for us to move mindfully toward harmony and balance. The more discomfort, the more we are motivated to do something about it. Emotions provide us with valuable feedback and guidance; even the uncomfortable ones. It is only when our emotions get stuck or we ignore them that they create problems. Rather than avoiding negative emotions, our focus should be on encouraging optimal flow so that they arise, present their gifts, and then dissipate in a healthy way.
Eastern traditional medicine use the framework of five elements and their associated emotions, both positive and negative. Five Element Shiatsu aim to smooth out stagnated flows so that we can experience all of our emotions fully, as well as express them skillfully and authentically. This not only helps with calming the mind, but it also helps to heal physical illness and symptoms. Five Elements system can be drawn as a wheel with a five-pointed star in the middle, connecting the elements in two different patterns. There is a circle on the outside (the flow cycle) and a star on the inside (the control cycle). This visual description helps us see how the elements are in a constant dance with each other.
Love, joy, happiness
Impatience, hatred: reveals the ways in which we create separation from others and invites us to connect with them.
Trust, fairness, openness
Anxiety: encourages us toward comfort and stability.
Courage, right knowing
Sadness: sensitizes us to pain and loss and moves us toward clarity and connection with spirit.
Fear: causes us to pay attention to our safety, protection, and self-care.
Anger: motivates us to change and grow.
Western society has also begun to acknowledge the important influence of emotional intelligence on both our well-being and on our ability to navigate life successfully. It's well-known in the world of CranioSacral Therapy that emotions trapped in body tissues can lead to pain and other ailments. An energy cyst is a highly compressed ball of disorganized energy that originally entered the body in the course of an injury or trauma. Essentially, it’s the “energetic imprint” of trauma, and it can contain emotional as well as physical energy. We can locate the energy cyst when we encounter areas of the body so tight that energy flow, fluid flow and craniosacral motion are all restricted.
Emotions are designed to move through the body. Imbalances often occur when we resist an emotion and its natural path through the body. Resistance can cause an emotion to lock into body tissue, eventually leading to physical ailments. Craniosacral techniques can cause the emotion to regain movement along its natural trajectory out of the body. Intellectually, we also might be curious to learn which emotion has created the disharmony. There certainly are times when an emotion will manifest or even declare itself. But what we are seeking is the release of the held emotion, not its identity. Craniosacral therapy is not a psychoanalysis; it is a body-based therapy. The goal of Craniosacral therapy is to assist the body in its own natural self-corrective capabilities so it can regain its full health and function.
The fundamental building blocks of our emotional intelligence are our capacities for self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. The more that we recognize the gifts inherent in challenging emotions, the more willing we will be to experience, accept, and benefit from what they offer.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.