Connecting with emotions

This question was in one of the PTSD facebook pages. I decided to share my answer here too.

Q: How does one connect to emotions in therapy? I have a super strong social/protective self which is hindering my progress.

A: Wow. That is a tough question. I survived by disconnecting then my counselor wanted me to sit with my emotions. Yeah —NO. It was probably the hardest thing I ever did. My counselor started with anger because he knew that was the easiest one to show up. He would actually tick me off on purpose. Once I felt it, I was then given the assignment to get clay targets and write on each one something that I was angry about. I could identify those. I went through 2 boxes of 90. Once I recognized, felt and identify anger he then explained that anger hid other emotions like hurt, fear and frustration. We started pealing back the anger to find out what was driving my anger. Slowly I learned to identify, recognize the feelings and finding things that I thought about or did that go with each feeling. I started researching emotions and used my analytical mind to systematically explore emotions. Then when I had an identifiable emotion, I learned to sit with it. Let that emotion tell me why it was there and why it needed my attention. As I let in the so-called negative emotions, the positive ones showed up too. I learned that each emotion has it place, it is temporary, and I feel like I did the day my parents bought a colored TV instead of black and white. Emotions Color my world with amazing stuff. When I have an uncomfortable emotion, I sit with it until it tells me why it is there. I learned that jealousy is telling me I am comparing myself with someone else and not seeing my worth. I learned that envy is seeing a goal I want to reach but not willing to work for myself. I reset my goals if that item is really as important as envy is telling me it is. I still remember the first time I felt exquisite joy. I was in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the freeway and thinking about some awesome stuff that was happening in my life and joy just washed over me. Wow. Learning to feel emotions is so worth it. Cheering for you.

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