By: Starielle Hope
As you continue to hone your recognition of physical sensations in the body, you can utilize this recognition to:
- Begin to notice physical sensations before you recognize the emotion that accompanies them.
- Bring a deeper focus and awareness to the physical sensations to be able to understand your emotions more deeply.
Often times, we experience emotions and are reacting to them before we even realize what’s happening. This can lead to reactions that foster disconnection such as:
- Needy/clinging/anxious behavior (i.e. calling your romantic partner 20 times in one day)
- Avoidant/distant behavior (pushing someone you care about away)
- Fight or flight response to a stressful situation (could look like yelling angrily or walking out on an argument or disagreement)
The more we are able to slow down and stretch out that moment between experiencing an emotion and reacting to it, the more intentionality we are able to bring into how we respond.
So how do we do that?
By tuning into our physical emotions to recognize we are about to react before it actually happens.
Let’s say the person you’re dating shows up late to a date, AGAIN. You’ve talked about this before and he or she has promised to show up on time, and here they are late once again.
What do you do? Do you tell yourself it’s not a big deal and pretend to be “fine” while being cold and closed off for the whole date? Do you yell and say cruel things about how selfish or careless that person is - how they “can’t get anything right”? Do you walk out on them? Do you make it mean that they don’t value you or care about you enough to show up on time?
These are all reactions to how you’re feeling that will probably put the other person on the defensive and make it incredibly difficult to enjoy the date or reconnect.
Try this: As you’re waiting for your date to arrive, feeling the anger, frustration and/or hurt build as the minutes tick by, tune into the physical sensations in your body and specifically where they are occurring.
You may be feeling:
- Tension in your shoulders/back
- Tightness or a closed sensation in your heart or stomach
- Heat rising in your chest/back/neck/face
Now is your opportunity to bring a deeper focus and awareness to the physical sensations to be able to understand your emotions more deeply.
Place your hands over the part of your body whether the strongest physical sensations are emanating from. Begin to tune even more deeply into this energy. See if you can allow it to grow, to feel it even more strongly, until you are truly feeling it fully. Breathe deeply into this part of your body and bring your full awareness to it. What does it want to express? Is it angry? Hurt? Sad? Annoyed? Maybe some combination of those?
Give it a personality. Which part of you is experiencing this emotion? It is 5 year old you who would always be waiting along after school for a parent who was frequently late to pick you up? Is it 17 year old you who waited forever for your prom date to show until you finally realized you had been stood up and your date was never going to come? Is it an early adult version of you who’s first boyfriend would never show up on time and you found out later he had been cheating on you?
Whichever part of you is feeling this emotion right now, that wants to fight or run away, or needs reassurance probably has an excellent reason for that need. Listen to it, allow it to be heard.
When your date finally shows up, you’ll be able to give them a lot more context about why being on time is so important to you.
You could say, “When I was five years old, I was always the last one left after school because my mom would be late to pick me up. I always felt like an inconvenience to her and I didn’t feel loved or taken care of. When you’re late I feel like I’m an inconvenience to you and you don’t really want to be here with me.”
From this opening, you show vulnerability and invite your date to understand you more, and to enter into a deeper connection with you. They also may be able to understand why it’s important to you that they be on time in a way they never understood before, or tell you why they have such a hard time being on time and that it has nothing to do with how much they care about you.
It’s always possible that a person won’t receive this well, and in that case, thank them, because you probably want to know now if they aren’t able to receive your vulnerability as you begin to open up. You may be surprised though, the vast majority of people will soften and open to you in response to an honest and calm share of vulnerability. You may even find a deeper connection with that person on that date than if they had showed up on time and you didn’t have the opportunity to share this part of yourself.