Updated: Oct 9, 2019
The ultimate goal of emotional processing is to awaken complete self-acceptance. When we can accept all of our emotions, we feel complete as we are and loved from within. When we are self-loving, our relationships can then be approached as a vehicle through which our love can be expressed instead of a place to seek or "get" love from another.
The aim of integrative emotional processing is to reclaim, accept and include what was previously apart from our conscious (everyday) awareness. Processing is a psychological term that refers to accepting and staying with an emotional process as it arises, allowing it to unfold by itself in the here-and-now until it is fully experienced, absorbed or dissolved.
Emotions need to move - they need to stay in motion so they can transform. Processing old, stuck emotions consists of four steps (as I apply them) according to John Ruskin, author of "Emotional Clearing."
1. Awareness: Something is arising in the here-and-now is triggering unhealed emotional pain from the past. Awareness of this strong emotional charge, and recognizing that a current life circumstance is triggering suppressed emotional energy is the healing task at this stage.
2. Acceptance: Resistance to our emotions creates most of our pain. Negative emotions might have a certain amount of inherent pain, but usually, we amplify, exaggerate and prolong our emotional pain through resistance. Learning how to accept every aspect of your emotional experience helps to minimize the pain at this stage.
3. Direct Experiencing: After we learn how to accept our emotions, we still must digest them through directly experiencing them - by feeling them fully. We digest our emotions by staying present in our body until the energy of the emotional charge has dissolved at this stage.
4. Transformation: When we "presence" to our emotions, part of our consciousness must be activated in the form of the "witness." We each have the capacity to feel our emotions and witness them at the same time. To activate the witness it is helpful to say, "Something in me is feeling upset" rather than say, "I am feeling upset."
When our internal witness is activated, internal catharsis ensues in its own spontaneous way. When the emotion unblocks, flow is spontaneously restored. After a deep period of emotional processing, fresh insights about how to better live our lives will arise.
A Loving Note:
The above method of emotional processing is simple but not always easy. If you are finding it challenging to stay with a difficult emotion, I invite you to book a session so that we can hold space for it together.
With much care,