*Note: this article may be triggering so please take care and reach out if you need help.
Communication takes place as an intellectual process of cognition, language and vocabulary combined with an intuitive, felt sense that exists at a cellular level. Integration of the two can produce communication that is real, raw and from the heart – both logical and emotional. This holistic communication is understood and felt. It’s how we have healthy conversations with ourselves and others. But how do you know where you’re feeling what you’re feeling?
The full psychological and emotional impact of social distancing through COVID-19 is yet to be seen, although the number of deaths by suicide and the increase in domestic and family violence is tragic and heavy to process. This article in The Guardian by Susie Orbach, psychotherapist, psychoanalyst, writer and social critic, explores the effect of lockdown on our relationship with our own bodies, and the social body of our communities. It’s lengthy but worth the read, piqued by my interest in somatic psychotherapy that studies how the body stores or records stress and trauma, prompting me to think about where we feel.
Exploring where you feel emotions in the body needs to be practised with intention. We’re often asked how we’re feeling, a question that asks us to recall language and vocabulary to describe the feeling – an intellectual process. Identifying where you’re feeling requires being connected with your bodily sensations. For example, when I feel nervous I feel it in my tummy and I notice my body temperature and breathing increases.
Discovering how your body and intuition, or felt sense, communicates with your logic is an adventure that is revealing, scary, vulnerable and healing. Try it with yourself now – what are you feeling, and where are you feeling it? If icky things come up as you tune into where you’re feeling your emotions, I would suggest seeing a therapist (a somatic psychotherapist, if possible) to hold the space for you to explore with safety. I would suggest the same if you can’t identify where you’re feeling your feels. There is no shame in either or any of what you can or can’t feel, but I hope you’ll take the time to work on getting to know yourself as a whole person, bringing the mind and body together so you’re operating as one integrated being.
Further self-reflection can reveal why you feel what you feel in certain situations, and why you feel it where you feel it. You may logically already know the answers, or there might be new information lurking, locked away as a coping mechanism that is best uncovered with a professional. Our bodies store our histories in ways that were designed to keep us safe in the initial stages of trauma-response, but which may become maladaptive over time if left to manifest into a dark and unhelpful form hiding deep within ourselves, sometimes so deep we don’t know it’s there (although the niggling feeling we can’t put our finger on is often the hint that something is hidden there).
It’s only through questioning why and where we feel that we may get to know all the parts of ourselves, so we can begin to heal the hurt parts.