Before I answer that let me share something else by drawing your attention to the quotation in the photo. I was drawn to it for two reasons. I find it intriguing that joy has a higher vibration than love especially when from a societal perspective there is so much more emphasis on love. And yet if we look at it from the perspective of colour psychology, Coral, which is the colour of the text, is made of yellow (joy) and pink (love). When you are dealing with pain you need both love and joy.
I myself experienced sadness and a sense of loss on Sunday night that had nothing to do with my exhaustion! My girls who have been with me since March were no longer in the house it was just A and I. The house felt empty I missed them hugely and yet at the same time I had been looking forward to having a week on my own so that I could get things done ready for my month off.
The paradoxical nature of emotions
In some ways it was lovely as we suddenly had so much space and time. A and I had a bath, gave each other a massage and spent time together – couple time is so rare for us. I enjoyed those precious moments and yet still I felt a sense of loss and a little bit rudderless!
In the midst of navigating my way through these feelings, I was mentioned in a post by a new friend and fellow entrepreneur, Tanya Obeng, and it felt wonderful to be appreciated. It gave me such a lift. And I knew that I wanted to give others the experience so I created a post with these words making sure the quotation was in Coral. It is a photo where there are people with others because it is so lovely to be able to share our lives with others. This can bring us such joy and meaning.
Why is working with emotions so complex?
At a deeper level I chose this quotation because I find it to be true in the healing work that I do. Last Saturday I had a very broken night’s sleep because one of my daughter’s was in pain and could not sleep. Like her mother she shows up as a tough nut very often but that exterior is hiding a deeply sensitive soul within who at times has very little confidence. People are such complex characters in some ways. How often do you notice contrary emotions inside yourself?
I felt that same pull when I went into my daughter. Initially I felt irritated and was scolding in tone because a part of me knew she was perfectly well and just seeking attention. Not surprisingly she asked me to leave. I managed to catch myself, took a deep breath and found that compassionate part of myself. I felt into that place, found my softness and tenderness and spoke from there. I didn’t deny her pain but I helped her find joy. We talked about what she loved the most and I started to create a meditation out of that.
Healing takes time and can be an interactive process
She had another wobble having calmed a bit as her ego tried to reassert itself. So we went deeper I brought in Reiki and I discovered she loves the idea of travelling. I then created another guided visualisation.
I think what also helped was that I could share personal stories of when I had been in excruciating pain and how when it had been very bad, I had also felt a lot of fear. I then told her a story of how I had managed similar pain as a child. I visualised food that I would eat when I was well and that took me out of my body and helped me to sleep.
What’s the science behind this?
Belief can shift biology: the brain produces what it needs to produce to give us what we expect to happen. My daughter believed she was ill so her brain colluded and the pain felt real. As we focused on joy, her brain produced its own natural versions of morphine – known as endogenous opioids. These endogenous opioids then produce a very real reduction in pain.
Emotions have physical effects: Release of stress hormones, for example, follows feelings of stress. On the other hand, oxytocin accompanies warm and connected feelings associated with kindness and compassion. If you focus on stressful situations, the immune system can become depressed, while focusing on uplifting thoughts can elevate it.
Knowing all that and that sleep is the best cure, I had an idea about what could help my daughter. There was no forcing it, just lots of love and it took the time it took and when she finally let go and I knew she was going to sleep, I left her and returned to my own bed. As I felt her relax, her breathing changed: it became deeper and the pain reduced enough for her to stop fixating on it so she could get to sleep. What helped her to get there was to focus on what brought her joy so for a few moments she was not in the grip of fear.