This post is with thanks to hubetsy and Kmacgamwell whose open hearted posts touched me quite a bit and which got me thinking about one of the hardest parts of this journey.
Your posts were a gift as well. They helped me with my troubled journey.
PSP and CBD are an emotional roller coaster with wringers thrown in and often fatigue as well.
We’ve all been there I expect.
This post is about ways to manage this.
For the fatigue: Sleep, practical support and breaks are the only answer.
Getting time away from caring so that we are not continuously immersed in the emotional hot house of it and to get some other social input to stabilise ourselves is also important. Those ‘outside’ relationships are a little like lines holding a ship steady against the dockside. We need them.
But what of the strong emotions we experience? The ones that debilitate, or overwhelm us, from time to time?
They can be diminished to a manageable level. This post is about how emotions work and ways to ‘turn down the tap’ so that we are less dominated by them.
This approach can be found in Third Wave Cognitive Behavioural Therapies, Mindfulness and in the work of Eckhart Tolle who pre-dated the other two and who I suspect was the father of it. His material on managing emotional distress, confusion and pain is well worth a read (or listen to him reading his work on audio - his voice caries it so well). It’s not technical and it is superb.
Dissolving Painful Emotions (with an added freebie at the end of how to amplify good ones.)
This is a little repetitive for a reason. I hope it doesn’t bug folk.
Diminishing troublesome emotions is not difficult to do and there is no need to try to be perfect. Just allow it to work for you in your own way.
Take an upright chair and sit comfortably with a fairly straight spine and your hands in your lap. Shuggle your shoulders a bit to relax them.
Now breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. If you can’t breathe in through you nose, best just use your mouth alone. Allow your breathing to find its own rhythm, there is no need to force it. Focus on your breathing. Focus on the air going up your nose and down your throat into your lungs. As it goes down feel you ribs lifting and diaphragm moving to draw it in. Then feel your ribs falling, the air coming up your throat, into your mouth and past your lips. Just follow it. Don’t try to control it. Just focus your mind on it.
Thoughts will come and interrupt you focus. That’s fine they’re only thoughts like leaves passing on the wind. Just re-focus on your breathing and allow them to drift away Just leaves on the wind.
If you are suffering physical pain try to let it dissolve into your outward breath. Treat it to as ‘just something happening’ that can be let go. If you can.
Feel the troublesome emotions in your chest and solar plexus. Don’t sink into them. Like gently holding a ball allow them to be. What do they feel like? Where are they from? What are their names? Pain, anxiety, fear, anger, shame and guilt? Just gently name them if you like.
Don’t think of self-blame or blaming others. Those are thoughts, leaves, let them blow away. We are here to deal with emotions not the monkey mind thoughts of the cortex.
They are just emotions. You are experiencing them for a reason. They are actually messages from your more primitive brain which was there long before humans developed a cortex and higher level thinking. They come from an ancient layer of the brain which uses hormones to inform you. Not the nervous system with its thoughts. Nothing more.
Gradually, whilst still concentrating on your breathing, allow the emotions to detach from you. Just to reside in you as something which merely are. They are after all merely your ancient brain talking to you. They are not you.
Accept them as something which just is. Accept them as merely the consequence of life which happens. There is no blame. They are merely endocrinal consequences. They have delivered their message and can be allowed to fade. Just allow them to be.
Finally, at a natural breathing rate, through your nose and out through your mouth, feel the air coming in and on the outward breath imagine the emotions being exhaled. Each breath and a little more dissolved into the breath and allowed to go.
Stop when you wish.
Don’t worry if it doesn’t work the first time, or you get itches which distract. Just stop and try again when you wish. If you are like me you are pretty beaten up so please don’t beat yourself up over this as well.
Here is a list of the key emotions. Each is closely tied to different mixes of hormones released by the pituitary gland.
What are emotions?
A functional explanation is that before we had a cortex with higher levels of though capable of explanations we managed using an endocrinal system which we still have. The hypothalamus ‘tells’ the pituitary gland what cocktail of hormones to release and we experience them as emotions. Emotions stimulate appropriate behaviour.
Fear/ anger gives fight and flight.
Shame drives us to repent and signals to others we want to re-join the ‘group’ and that we think we have broken the ‘code of behaviour’ Remember we can only survive in groups and the shamed look is a powerful signal to others.
Loss or expected loss maybe stimulated us to rescue others or care for them when in need.
Love of course creates bonds which bind the group.
Curiosity is a powerful positive emotion which got us to where we are now.
Each comes with a posture and facial look which communicates to others in the group.
They are hormonal messages from the brain, they inform us as to the 'value' of what is going on. They tell us what we need to do and they stimulate postures and facial expressions which tell others what is happening for us, in the case of a tiger, to run for it.
However they are not who we are. They are what we are experiencing.
Crudely the hypothalamus is the culprit. It ‘instructs the pituitary gland to release the correct cocktails of hormones for each emotion as required. We can not tell it to stop with cognitive thought, but we can change our mood and use the endocrinal feedback mechanisms to get it to turn the endocrinal tap down and eventually off.
This technique was proven by lab work where the participant’s different relevant hormone levels were measured as they used the technique. The hormones have a short lifespan, usually around 15 minutes, or less and the approach 'turns off' the instructions to the Pituitary to make them diminish, or stop for a while.
And here's a thing: Have you never used this in reverse? Feeling a strong positive emotion and breathing in deeply, savouring it and the sighing with an outward breath of pleasure. It’s the same innate method in reverse. So, you can amplify positive emotions to. Just breathe the emotion in and hold it when you rhythmically breathe out.
Today Liz was out for the count - too tired so I held her hand and brought my love for her into focus in my chest held it lightly, experiencing it gently. Then whilst breathing out, projected it at her.
Did it help her? Maybe she was smiling and relaxing just because I was holding her hand. But, I felt a whole lot better afterwards.
I do hope this is of some use to someone.
Best to all
PS - This is not about killing emotions. We thrive on them. They are part of us, but sometimes like when someone shouting at us about how to get it right, we need to say, "Hey, I can hear you, please stop shouting it's too much."