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I’ve had two clients this week both of whom are very much in their heads and as a consequence have built very successful businesses and really have nothing in life to be bothered about. So why have they come to see me?

They have both experienced extreme anxiety and can’t seem to get it under control and have tried every tactic in the book to run away from it and it’s not working!

The thing is. if you don’t find a way to work with your emotions, they can get stronger and for my two clients their emotions were getting in the way of doing the things that were important to them.

So whats going on?

I’ve written before about the divided brain and how emotions are generated in the older limbic brain to protect us. So when we get stressed by moving house or a challenging meeting or an argument with a loved one, this older part of the brain feels threatened and it triggers a strong fight, flight, freeze response. This can trigger a whole range of emotions; frustration, sadness, guilt, fear and anxiety to name a few. Most people tend to bury their heads in the sand and avoid these emotions through distraction, resorting to unhealthy habits like drinking or eating too much and the list goes on. These strategies can provide a temporary fix but if the emotions are too strong they can start a whole set of behaviours that make us feel even worse.

The best way to deal with these strong emotions is to face them and understand them. The unconscious mind generates these emotions because it’s concerned about something and it wants us to do something. Emotions are a call to action.

Lets have a look at what this could mean:

  • Anger in its various forms usually means that a line has been crossed. Once you explore this, you can move into the logical mind and then you’ve got some options and choices about what you can and can’t do.
  • Anxiety is fear associated with the future. So what is it that the older brain sees as threatening and what can you do about this threat?
  • Sadness and grief are normal responses to the loss of someone or something that was important. It’s an emotion that enables us to reconnect with others to find a way to overcome the loss

When you begin to explore emotions in this very different way, it’s surprising what a difference it can make.

Both my clients this week left understanding their emotions much better. One was able to fly again having been crippled by a phobia for some years, the other was confident that he was able to grasp a new business opportunity in both hands using his anxiety as a checklist of what needed attention to take his business to a new level.

I like this article in psychology today on the purpose of our emotions in evolutionary psychology. In evolutionary terms, if we didn’t have positive and negative emotions, we would be extinct. They are at the very core of what makes us human. All of the magical experiences in our lives wouldn’t have happened without them and at the same if we don’t work with the negative ones, we can feel tortured on a daily basis.

Jill Tonks

Jill Tonks