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Listening To Your Body on Valentine’s Day

by | Feb 7, 2022 | Anxiety, Emotion Focused Therapy, Emotional Regulation, Tools & Resources, Wellness

Valentine’s Day. For some, it’s an opportunity to celebrate. For others, it’s the time of the year when they feel most alone. And for some, it’s a commercial ploy to get them to part with their money. But what does Valentine’s Day mean to you this year, and how does it feel when you think about it? 

I invite you now to take a moment and think about Valentine’s Day. You can close your eyes, keep them one quarter open or keep them open all the way – whatever is most comfortable for you. Try to visualize what you will be doing on Valentine’s Day and notice what body sensations come up for you. Some examples – do you feel light or do you feel heavy? Do you feel hot or do you feel cold? Is your breathing shallow and fast or deep and slow? 

Being aware of what you feel in your body (sensations) is important because to understand your emotions, you need to be able to connect with your body. So what are emotions, and how are they connected with the body? Emotions are pretty much reactions to things in your internal (these can be thoughts or sensations) or external environment, and they can be felt in the body. 

For example, if you feel warm and calm when you’re with your partner, you could be feeling love. If you’re sitting alone and feel heavy or empty in your chest or stomach, you could be feeling sad. If you see a social media post of your ex-partner and your heart beats fast and you feel hot, you could be feeling angry. And if you feel emotionally numb, this could also be telling you something important.

In all these cases, your body sensations and emotions are giving you valuable information. If you feel love, it could be telling you that you’re in a healthy relationship (I say could be because people can feel love even when they’re in an unhealthy relationship). If you’re feeling sad, you could be grieving a relationship that was lost, or the kind and loving relationship you deserve but haven’t been able to find. If you feel angry, your ex-partner could have crossed a boundary that was unacceptable to you. And if you feel numb, it could be your body’s way of managing difficult emotions (note that anxiety and depression are often clusters of too much emotion all at once).  

This information is important because emotions have natural inclinations that help you get your needs met. If you’re feeling love, it encourages you to take actions that help you get physically and emotionally closer with your partner. If you’re feeling sad, it lets you know you need to take actions to soothe yourself or find someone who can help comfort you. If you feel anger, it lets you know you need to take actions to set your boundaries or receive validation. Joy is sort of like our inner career counselling since it guides us towards what we want to do. If you feel numb, it could be your body’s way of preventing you from feeling emotionally overwhelmed.

So now I invite you to take the next step. If you contact your body and feel calm and happy with where you’re at, you could be getting your needs met in a healthy relationship. If this is the case, I’m happy for you and your partner, and I hope you continue to support each other and feel fulfilled. 

However, if trying this exercise leaves you struggling with painful emotions, feeling disconnected or confused, I invite you to get in touch by clicking on this link. I would be happy to provide counselling using Emotion Focused Therapy to help you understand the sensations and emotions you’re feeling now, how they helped you survive as a child, how they may be unhelpful for you now as an adult, and how you can tap into other emotions so you can get your needs met moving forward. Others may find the help they need through couples counselling, low-cost counselling or even psychedelic integration.

In any case, whatever Valentine’s Day may mean to you, I invite you to use it to take you deeper into your body and awareness of your emotions. Healing may be hard sometimes, but when it gets difficult you don’t need to do it alone.

Marwan is a counsellor at Thrive who specializes in both Emotion Focused Therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

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