Roughly a year and a half ago, I became dairy free but not for the usual reasons. I didn’t have any obvious stomach problems, bloating or inflammation. I gave up dairy because I was in an emotional crisis and I knew in order to heal I had to feel my emotions. Fortunately, before hitting rock bottom I had done quite a bit research about emotional trauma. Perhaps it was some kind of premonition but something told me I better get prepared.
Ditching dairy would be one of the many ways I would nurture myself back to wholeness, the other was to keep a close eye on the ways I was labeling or in most cases mislabeling my emotions. You see when you are experiencing an onslaught of emotions (like I was), labeling can do more harm than good.
Now certainly, I am not advocating that you don’t ever label your feelings as they can be a means for creating healthy communication, connection and true intimacy. What I am suggesting, is you pay attention to how this habit may or may not be serving you. If labeling your feelings is contributing to more chaos, disconnection and angst in your life then consider curbing this tendency for the reasons below.
- Labeling can interfere with processing your emotions. Here is the thing, talking about your emotions keeps your left hemisphere of your brain active. This is the part of your brain where you use language, problem solve and make decisions. In other words, it is your thinking brain. It isn’t until your use your whole brain and body that you are able to truly feel your emotions.
- You are more likely to become stuck in the past or fixed in the future. As a result, you become attached to what may or may not happen. Labeling your feelings makes you more result rather than process focused. It is the process rather than the outcome which promotes true healing.
- You may mislabel your emotions. If you have ever told someone to leave you alone or how pissed you are, initially that may be a fairly good description of your current mood however, underneath all that anger is probably some deeper feelings of hurt, sadness or disappointment. The reality is without truly feeling your emotions you may never really know.
- When you label your emotions you are simultaneously creating a narrative. Sure you might want your loved ones to know you feel anxious or depressed however, similar to a broken record your body and brain (without awareness) will begin to memorize the words, feelings and beliefs you repeat.
- Labeling rather than feeling your emotions deprives you of vital, healing and transforming energy. Since your emotions are defined as energy in motion, the more you label or talk about them the less movement you will create. It is the movement which allows the healing to take place.
So rather than label your feelings I suggest you digest them. One way to do this is to breathe slowly in and out through your nose, inflating your navel on inhale (counting 1, 2, 3, 4) while deflating (pulling navel toward spine) on exhale (4, 3, 2, 1).
Sherianna Boyle, MEd CAGS is the author of the new book Emotional Detox: 7 Steps to Release Toxicity and Energize Joy (Adams Media, a division of Simon & Schuster) and founder of C.L.E.A.N.S.E Yoga. ™. She is an adjunct psychology professor, certified energy practitioner, yoga instructor, mother of three girls, and author of seven books; she has also been published in more than fifty articles. She is the author of The Four Gifts of Anxiety, Mantras Made Easy, The Conscious Parent’s Guide to Childhood Anxiety, Choosing Love, and The Everything Parent’s Guide to Overcoming Childhood Anxiety. Her transformative Emotional Detox program is also featured as part of the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health’s workshop series. Her book The Four Gifts of Anxiety, was endorsed by NAMI. Sherianna’s resources and videos can be found at SheriannaBoyle.com.