The Wisdom of Stress
Dec 03, 2013 07:17PM
● By Maia Rizzi
Our feelings are designed to motivate us to action by providing us with experiences of pleasure or pain; they make us feel alive; yet many of us continue to deal with challenging feelings in a Victorian fashion by denying, repressing or ignoring them, so we may superficially cope or deal with life.
We often think of challenging feelings as bad because they hurt, and sometimes the hurt feels never-ending, so we try to push them underground (usually unconsciously) to avoid experiencing them. We distract ourselves or may even withdraw from life to some extent. In so doing, however, we do not rid ourselves of the intensity of difficult feelings, we simply swallow them whole and bury them alive. Feelings are never bad, they are simply signposts on the road to discovering the self.
Feelings are not only in our head. They become stored throughout the body, in the tissues of our muscles, organs and nerves. Continuously internalized feelings or emotions result in discomforts such as tension and muscle pain, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, headaches, ulcers, acid reflux, the inability to concentrate and others.
Candace B. Pert, Ph.D., a research professor in physiology and biophysics, proposes in her groundbreaking book, Molecules of Emotion, that the body is not a mindless machine. The mind and the body are one interconnected whole, and therefore our thoughts and feelings affect our bodies and therefore, our health.
These intense feelings aren't simply meant to torture us or make us feel lost or inadequate. They are the “voices” from within signaling that we need to pay attention, because something important is being communicated. Carl Banyan, a board-certified hypnotherapist and author, states, “Our feelings are nature's built-in guidance system. This system is designed to let us know which of our desires aren't being fulfilled and motivate us to take the actions necessary to fulfill them. When we ignore our feelings, our basic needs remain unmet.”
There is innate wisdom in all our feelings. With the holidays upon us, we are prone to enhanced feelings of stress. Enhanced stress is the voice inside us saying, “Stop, I need a break. I have too much on my plate, but I'm afraid something awful might happen if I don't get it all done perfectly.” Stress tells us we want to successfully manage our lives, but we are spreading ourselves too thin and possibly feeling some fear of failure.
Some causes of stress are poor time management, requiring practicing skills leading to more effective organization; not learning to say no; an inherited belief that we can never try hard enough; anxiety passed down from a family that lives in “crisis mode”; carrying a lot of unsatisfied emotions about the past; and self-criticism. We often seem to look at our real or imagined shortcomings through the wrong end of powerful binoculars, magnifying what we judge to be faults. Here are some tips for coping.
Breathe deeply for about 15 minutes a day. Close your eyes and follow your breath; feel the oxygen coming in through your nostrils and out your mouth. Pay attention to how your chest rises and falls and follow the sound of your breathing. The oxygen infusion to your body is an immediate soothing tonic for frayed nerves.
Use your imagination to visualize a peaceful scene as if you were there. Feel the air, see the colors and sense the peace.
Exercise; time spent outdoors just “being”.
Practice gratefulness. Gratefulness puts us on that great spiritual highway named “counting our blessings”.
Reframe your issues and look for a more positive perspective.
Adjust your attitude. Its good to let ourselves feel the anger or the frustration, but we always have the ability to let go and forgive.
Listening to our feelings is the most positive thing we can do. The intensity will pass, and when the feeling has spoken, it will simply flow through you and then gently away.
Maia Rizzi, CCHT, is a nationally certified clinical hypnotherapist who has been practicing for more than 20 years. Call her for a complimentary consultation at 850-291-8041.