This week I am starting from a phrase used often by one of our therapists, Jesalyn Eatchel, LCSW:
"Our issues are in our tissues!"
This is a lovely way of saying that the thoughts, emotions, and stuck patterns live not only in the mind and heart, but also in our body! Our emotions issues quite literally live in the tissues of our body.
Think of the last time you felt angry. Were you hot? Was your jaw clenched? Were your shoulders tight? Those sensations are the emotion of anger living in your body! What about the last time you were sad - were you cold, especially in your hands and feet?
Different emotions live in different areas, as shown in the picture below from a research study several years ago (click on the photo to read the article). Look at the image of shame - do you see the "hot spots" in the cheeks where we blush?
Where do you feel emotions in your body? Sometimes when you can't figure out exactly what you are feeling, your body sensations can help you figure it out. People usually think that therapists work with the mind and heart, but some of us also work with the body. In fact, people who have experienced trauma almost ALWAYS need to work with symptoms that live int he body to have full resolution. This can be done with body-based talk therapy (somatic psychotherapy), trauma-sensitive yoga therapy, or energy work. Working with the body is like going through the side door of the psyche because the front door (the mind) is too heavily guarded. That is why some people ended up feeling stuck if they have done talk therapy only.