The Healing Power of Emotional Expression
Emotional Healing: Blocks or Levels of Expression
Emotions are energy, and energy has to go somewhere. Imagine emotions as energy that courses through your body that needs an outlet. So when we suppress that energy, the expression of our emotions, it is like letting food rot inside your fridge; it starts to spoil and affect everything around it.
The universe is a vibrational match-maker; when you suppress emotions, you attract situations that mirror your inner chaos. The only way to heal is by allowing yourself to feel and express these emotions, even if it makes you vulnerable.
The Importance of Vulnerability
Stepping into the arena of vulnerability can be very difficult, especially for those of us that equate vulnerability with getting hurt and emotional pain. That is why it seems very risky for many of us to allow ourselves to come in to touch with our own emotions. But here’s the kicker: vulnerability is not your enemy. It’s the gateway to emotional honesty and personal growth. Refusing to be vulnerable is like trying to navigate through a maze blindfolded; you can’t move forward efficiently.
Levels of Emotional Expression
This approach serves as a blueprint for authentically communicating our emotions, providing a full picture of our internal landscape. Consider retreating to a private space to consciously tap into emotions that you might be disconnected from.
Think of emotional expression as a five-story building, where each floor represents a different emotional state. Your upbringing and personality determine which floors you’re encouraged to visit and which you avoid. But true healing requires visiting every floor in the building.
For example, some people are conditioned to freely experience sadness or disappointment but are discouraged from feeling anger. In this metaphor, they’re allowed on the ‘Sadness’ floor but not the ‘Anger’ floor. Others may have been taught that displaying fear or insecurity is off-limits, but expressing anger is acceptable.
Your emotional well-being hinges on your willingness to explore every floor of this emotional building. To fully articulate how you feel, it’s crucial to journey through these levels in a specific sequence. This structured exploration ensures that you’re confronting and expressing the entirety of your emotional truth.
The 5-Level Building of Emotional Expression
Level 1: Anger and Resentment
The natural progression of expression starts in a place of anger, resentment, fury, blame, and repelling the other person or ourselves.
This is your emotional basement, where the raw, unfiltered emotions live. Anger, blame, and resentment fill this space. Instead of bottling it up, voice your fury. Imagine your anger as a cannonball; fire it out instead of letting it rust inside you.
This is not the time to be delicate with your emotions, this is the time to express the nitty-gritty darkest aspects of what you’re actually feeling. Yelling at… Blaming… Talk about Resentments….
Example in Adult Relationships:
Your partner forgets an important date. You might feel deeply moved because it’s a repetition of how your mother always forgot your school events, making you feel neglected.
Once you’ve expressed all the anger, you move on to level two.
Level 2: Disappointment, Sadness and Hurt
After the dust of anger settles, we find the layer of disappointment and hurt.
How much it hurts… How disappointed… How sad…
Example in Adult Relationships:
Continuing the above example, your disappointment in your partner may make you realize it’s not just about the date; it’s about feeling unimportant, just like you felt unimportant to your mom.
Level 3: Fear, Insecurity, Bad Memories and Deep Wounds
Fears and insecurities is the real thing underneath our anger. It’s not just about what others did; it’s about how their actions made you feel diminished. Beneath the surface-level emotions lie the real culprits: fears and insecurities, stemming from past experiences.
Fears always have to do with bad memories. That’s why we seem to overreact relative to every situation, even little things. They’re not really little things because they’re linked to big things, very big things embedded deep inside of our memory.
Examples in Adult Relationships:
– You feared your mother’s neglect signified you were unlovable. Your partner’s actions trigger this same fear.
– When I was a little girl and my father always used to find fault with my appearance. I was never good enough for him.
After you have expressed all of your emotion relative to the layer of fear and securities, and bad memories and deep wounds, you may experience a serious emotional release relative to this particular level. This is the layer of vulnerability, which we are really looking for. This is where real healing takes place.
Level 4: Understanding, Empathy, Responsibility and Regret.
This is where you start taking emotional responsibility, expressing empathy and understanding towards the situation or the other person. It’s a reflective stage, analyzing your own actions and how they contributed to the issue.
Sentences like: I totally understand… I’m so sorry that you feel that way… I know that I can be difficult sometimes because…
Example in Adult Relationships:
You understand that your reactions are partially about your unresolved issues with your mother. You express this understanding to your partner. You’re not obligated to share but, at least, acknowledging your feelings to yourself.
Once you’ve expressed all of your emotions relative to each particular level of the building, you sink down to the final level.
Level 5: Love, Intentions, Wishes, Solutions and Connection
The top floor is where constructive and loving communication occurs. Here, you connect and look for solutions, expressing your intentions and wishes for the future.
Sentences like: I really do care about you… I’m really sorry… I have a suggestion for how to make it better…
Example in Adult Relationships:
You tell your partner that you’d like both of you to be more mindful of important dates and suggest setting reminders, thereby growing closer through the experience.
Those are the five levels of the natural progression that the expression of emotions takes.
Where to Start?
What you want to do is to put yourself in a room where you don’t have to be disturbed by anybody. You may either type this out on the computer, write it out, or just speak it verbally to yourself. Try to express your emotions relative to every single layer emotionally in succession.
Once you’ve gone through this entire process, you’ve fully articulated your emotions and the reality of the situation is laid bare. This sets the stage for genuine healing. At this point, you might revisit your breakdown of emotions and consider sharing them with the loved one involved in this challenging circumstance. You’re not obligated to share, of course—sometimes simply acknowledging your feelings to yourself is enough. However, if you wish to further the healing process, you might opt to share your insights with that person, emphasizing key points that you find most crucial.
If you’re in a relationship—romantic, platonic, or otherwise—this approach can be mutually beneficial. Imagine sitting across a table, agreeing to tackle conflicts differently: no immediate arguments, no interruptions. One person takes the floor, working through each emotional layer from top to bottom. The other person listens attentively. Then, roles reverse. If you go second, you may find it tough to revisit initial feelings of anger, especially after hearing your partner’s heartfelt confession. But sharing your side of the story is essential, as it can pave the way for true resolution and emotional release.
By openly expressing yourself and allowing your partner to do the same, you both gain clearer insights into the real issues at hand. This approach eliminates the buildup of repressed emotions, and ultimately, fosters a more transparent and healthy relationship
Difficulty accessing your emotions?
For those of you that have a very difficult time accessing your emotions, here are some probing questions which will help you to access the emotions relative to each one of these levels. The first being anger.
First Level: I hate it when… I am so angry that… I’m fed up with… I am filled with rage when…
Second Level: I feel so disappointed that… I feel so sad when… The thing that hurts me so badly is… This is why it hurts me so badly…
Third Level: I’m afraid that… What I’m truly afraid of is… It scares me when… It reminds me of…
Forth Level: I’m sorry that… Please forgive me for… It is completely understandable that… I regret that… I understand that…
Fifth Level: I want to… I forgive you for… I hope that… Thank you for… I appreciate you because… I love you because…
The Role of Questions in Emotional Access
If you still find it challenging to connect with your emotions, these questions will help with your emotional compass.
“What specifically triggered this emotion?”
“Why am I so angry about…?”
“Is this anger directed towards myself, someone else, or the situation?”
“Why does this hurt so much?”
“Did I have specific expectations that were not met?”
“Is this disappointment rooted in my actions or someone else’s?”
“What am I truly afraid of?”
“Is this fear rational or irrational?”
“Is this fear based on past experiences or future uncertainties?”
“What part of this situation do I regret?”
“Is there an underlying cause or pattern that leads to this regret?”
“Can I pinpoint where things went wrong?”
“What solution would make both of us happy?”
“Is my happiness tied to the happiness of the other person?”
“What can I contribute to solve the issue at hand?”
Additional Layers You Might Explore:
“What about this situation brings me happiness?”
“How can I sustain or replicate this joy?”
“What more do I need to learn about this situation?”
“What’s another perspective I haven’t considered?”
“What elements of this situation are unclear to me?”
“What information am I missing?”
Guilt or Shame:
“Is this emotion mine to own or am I taking on someone else’s feelings?”
“What can I do to make amends?”
“What aspects of this situation can I not change?”
“How can I come to terms with what has occurred?”
The Power of Emotional Honesty
It is reasonable to expect that at the end of this process you will feel incredibly vulnerable. You will access that raw space which most of us are very uncomfortable of, most of us try to numb it out with pills, or numb it out with addictions, or numb it out in other ways, but I promise you that if you allow yourself to be with that rawness, you will have access to healing, your life will start to improve, because that emotion, you can’t just ignore and suppress it. It will come out, if not verbally, it will come out through your subconscious actions, it will come out through your body, via illness, if you don’t express that emotion.
So expressing your emotions is not only the key to physical health, it’s not only the key to having your relationships work, it’s also the key to you feeling a sense of peace. Getting raw and getting vulnerable is incredibly beneficial, and it’s necessary if we are ever to find any kind of balance here in our lives. So try this process. I hope it benefits you.
The Connection with Family Systems
The way we express emotions in our adult relationships often echoes how emotions were handled in our family systems. If a child grows up in a home where vulnerability is discouraged, they carry this emotional blueprint into their adult relationships, often replicating the same patterns. By navigating through all five levels, you’re not just improving your current relationships but also revisiting and healing past family dynamics.
The Gift of Vulnerability and Healing
This process leaves you raw and emotionally bare, but it’s in this state that true healing can occur. Ignored emotions don’t fade; they find a way to surface, whether through disruptive behavior, relationship issues, or even physical ailments.
So, are you ready to step into your emotional building? You’ll find that each level you visit contributes to not just your emotional health but also the quality of your relationships and your overall sense of peace. It’s time to get raw, get real, and get healed.
–El Llanto y las Rabietas en los Bebes (Spanish)