Emotions can affect the nervous system: How to deal

If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know that emotions happen in the body, not in the mind.

Yes, it’s true that we concoct all kinds of stories around our emotions that might make us think our emotions are psychological, but the truth is, emotions are energy that change the cellular structure of our bodies. They live in our bodies and affect our psychology.

Some emotions move through us quickly and don’t trigger any sort of major nervous system response. This happens when we’re watching pleasant TV shows or books, for example.

But more difficult or just plain strong emotions can trigger a nervous system response. Emotions change our cellular structure, which can set off a cascade of events within our system.

It’s important to note that all emotional energy is inherently neutral—it just wants to move. It’s the body alerting us to a system change and asking us to move that energy. If we want to be healthy and emotionally intelligent humans, we need to learn how to allow all emotions–even and especially the difficult ones–to move through our bodies.

You already know how to allow pleasant emotions to flow through you. Let me explain.

Try this with me: imagine walking outdoors in a beautiful place. You’re taking an easy stroll, just looking at the nature around you: the sunlight shafting through the leaves, the sky clear and blue, the slight breeze carrying leaves from one place to another. It’s so peaceful, and a wave of joy washes over you. You close your eyes and let it in. It soaks through your pores, into your cells, and in that moment you experience the bliss that is gratitude.

Then it’s over, just like that, and you’re walking again. You just allowed an emotion to move through you. And it was easy, because the emotion didn’t scare you.

Emotions tend to affect our nervous system when they frighten us or shake us up in some way. If we have a negative childhood experience with sadness, for example, then coming to tears could activate a fight, flight, or freeze response in the nervous system. If we watched adults lose control
when they were angry, our own anger could scare us into a freeze state. On the other hand, if we never learned how to manage the intense energy of anger, we could feel motivated to fight.

In other words, emotions can affect the regulation of the nervous system.

They can throw us into dysregulation, and on an energetic level, they can eject our auras from our bodies.

So how do we work with these difficult emotions? We create permission to have the emotion, validate the importance of the emotion, and create circumstances to allow the emotion to flow.

Want to learn how? Check out this post or, better yet, check out a full list of practices in my book, Embracing High Sensitivity: Your HSP Guidebook to Eliminating Overwhelm, Handling Difficult Emotions, and Becoming the Boss of Your Life. Get it here.

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