Balance & Beyond Podcast
#8: The Truth about Feelings: How to stop being numb and unlock greater joy, calm and confidence
Feeling flat, meh, or numb most of the time?
Ever wondered why we struggle to truly feel and process our emotions? Join us as we uncover the science behind emotions and the importance of emotional literacy with our mindset coach, Jaclyn. Learn how to tap into your feelings, create joy, calm, and confidence, and keep guilt, shame, and fear at bay with valuable insights, tools, and techniques.
Discover the significance of emotional regulation and its impact on our lives and those around us in this enlightening conversation. We also delve into the power of empathy, how it can help us develop a deeper understanding of ourselves and our relationships, and the importance of building true confidence in our children.
Balance your head and heart, mind and body, and transform your emotional landscape with the tools and strategies shared in this episode.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll uncover in this episode:
- The difference between feelings and emotions and why you struggle to process them
- The mid-blowing length of time an emotion lasts in your body and where you’re stuck if it’s taking longer for you
- How women get stuck in emotions like stress and overwhelm and the return available if you’re ready to move through them
- Why defrosting can be a scary process
- How to unlock more joy, calm and confidence in your heart and mind.
Despite being about feelings, there’s so much science in here that you will have a completely different understanding of what’s been in the driver's seat of your life.
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INTRO: Welcome to Balance and Beyond, the podcast for ambitious women who refuse to accept burnout as the price of success. Here, we’re committed to empowering you with the tools and strategies you need to achieve true balance, where your career, relationships and health all thrive, and where you have the power to define success on your own terms. I honour the space you’ve created for yourself today, so take a breath, and let's dive right in…
On today's episode, I'm delighted to be joined by our mindset coach here at the Balance Institute. Jaclyn, welcome!
Hi, happy to be here!
Love it! Today we're going to shake things up, and do things a little differently. We are going to be talking about these wonderful things called feelings, or emotions, and they are things that actually rule our lives, but we don't know it. And I'm going to ask Jaclyn some questions, and she's going to give us some insight as to what's actually going on. So you ready with the first question, Jaclyn?
I love it. So you are a Somatic Coach by training. Can you tell us a little bit about what is a Somatic Coach, and what does that actually mean?
Yes, well, somatic means "of the soma”, which is of the body. So that means I'm a body based coach in my methodology. So, even though my title says "mindset coach”, what I've discovered, time and time again, is that all of the empowering beliefs that we have, the affirmative statements, the well intentioned actions that we try to take in our lives, these are all well and good to create a life that we love, and we need that. However, for those out there who might have found yourself struggling like, "I know what I should be doing”, or I keep saying these mantras to myself every day, but it's not making a difference. Or, you know, I felt good for a week, but then, you know, it doesn't seem to last.
It's because there's a lack of harmony between your mind and your body. So meaning that the emotional landscape of your emotions inside your body, or your nervous system, is full with material that has not been digested. So this means, something that's happened to you in the past, or any disappointments. Or you name it: anything that feels heavy, or painful, that wasn't ever digested, or heard, or received, so that you could finally be at peace with it. It remains in your body. That's the nature of our pain, actually. If it's not seen or held well, it remains in our body, in our emotions, in our nervous system.
And so that's why my approach has to be body based, somatically based, to support people. To clean up the heaviness of that and actually resolve what has been unresolved in the nervous system and in the emotions, so that all those empowering statements and behaviours you want to employ in your life can actually be sustained, because your body is now a team with your mind.
And it can feel sometimes like those teams are at war, can't it? So tell us what, we bandy around these words, "emotions and feelings”, and most people listening to this would consider themselves intelligent, logical, have a good head on their shoulders, but our emotional literacy can be somewhat lacking. So what actually are emotions and feelings?
Yes, and this gets into a little bit of semantics, but for the sake of clarity, I'll share my definitions of emotions and feelings, and see if that's supportive. So emotions, in my experience, are the raw material of our response to stimuli. So meaning something happens, and I feel anger. Or something happens, and I feel grief. Or something happens, and I feel joy. And so it's your knee jerk, instinctive response to life happening.
And another way to think about emotion, is energy in motion. So energy starts to move through your body in response to stimulus. You feel your heart open when you feel joy. That's the energy literally moving through your body. You have an actual, somatic response in your body to stimulus in your environment.
Or someone says something that makes you angry, and you feel that heat and your jaw lock, and your face gets all flushed. So that's energy in motion. Those are emotions. It's that raw material, raw response, to life happening. The way I define feelings is then, what our mind makes meaning out of that, that energy moving through our body, that emotion.
So we feel that rush of anger, because somebody said something that hurt our feelings. Or was, you know, against our values or something. So, it felt violating in some capacity. So we have this rush of anger. That's natural! And we want to allow that anger there. That's a sign that says, "Ouch, that hurts! I don't like what you said, that was hurtful." And that's natural and good and valid! And then we have this whole feeling state that comes on and can last for hours, days, weeks, months, years. We can hold on to this anger in this feeling state. It becomes almost like a disposition, where we become kind of perpetually cranky, or perpetually edgy.
So if you experienced yourself as somebody who's edgy, like easily triggered, or easy to upset, it's likely that you have unresolved emotions, meaning you didn't let that emotion, that original wave of anger that was a natural response to whatever was hurtful, you didn't actually let the anger move through you and out. It wasn't actually expressed.
You might hold it in. You might hold your anger in and not let it out. Or maybe you didn't feel safe enough to let your anger out. That can happen a lot. We don't feel safe to let our anger out. We might be punished if we demonstrate anger. And so, we need to discover ways to move this emotional energy out of our bodies, and that could be screaming into a pillow, or it could be journaling. Writing in a journal and just getting it all out, so that that anger that was moving through you like a wave has natural expression.
And the nature of emotions is that it just wants to move through us like a wave. And really, if we just let ourselves be with that emotion, it would move through us in a matter of a minute or two. You could just get out that piece of paper and get out all the anger on the paper, and it could just take a minute and you'll just be like, “Oh, I moved it through.” And now I have an actual articulate thing I can say to the person who I felt hurt by and it doesn't have to be charged full of anger based on all the meaning I'm making about it and then I'm judging that person, and then I'm judging myself about the anger, and so we create all these stories around our emotions, but we don't actually just let it move through and be resolved, once and for all. And so then we end up perpetually cranky, like I said, or edgy. So that's what happens with emotions.
And you have a beautiful word for what happens when we get banked up, when we don't let it go, which I think is somewhat graphic, but it's very descriptive. What's that word, Jaclyn?
Emotionally constipated. Right. So we get backed up with all this anger. And again, a lot of it could just be based on a story. Like, we make it mean something. Like okay, "This person said something that was hurtful.” So, that means that they disrespect me, and that means that I must be a pushover. So that means that I must have to assert myself, and they're the villain, and I'm the victim." And then we go into this whole huge odyssey, and it impacts our relationships with people, and impacts our experience of feeling joy and peace, because we're just indulging this big, blown out story, when if you just reduce it back to its raw elements, you could just say, "Ow, I see where the injury was.” I processed it by screaming into a pillow and journaling.
And then I can go back and tell the person, "You know, when you said that, I felt myself get really angry. And all this heat came into my face, and I was just like, I wanted to feel like a volcano and just blow up. And I realised that this really hurt me because, you know, I thought we had this understanding. And when you did that, I felt not valued. And I felt disrespected. But I'm wondering if maybe you were trying to express something else. Can you tell me what you were trying to actually communicate?"
So, we can start to bring curiosity to these instances, where we're assuming the worst. Like assuming, “They must be just disrespecting me”, when instead maybe they were just, who knows? You won't know until you ask. So, having tools to be with your raw emotions. and not make any stories of it then allows you to be with people and bring your curiosity, and actually have deeper connections with people, and still speak up for yourself. And still share where you were hurt, but it's not making anybody wrong or bad, yourself or them.
That can be so hard, can't it? Because, I mean, so many people who are in our world are so full of fear, or overwhelm, and to say that that state may only have initially lasted for 90 seconds feels laughable, when they've been living with guilt since the second their child was born, they've felt guilty in some capacity. So these states of being can become very, very well entrenched. And, as you said, they become not just how we feel, but then they define us, and they become part of our personality. And we've wrapped so much of our identity, then even around this particular feeling state. Like, "the grumpy mum”, and then there's no time for fun, and this goes out everywhere.
Why is it that, particularly for women, it can be so hard for us to feel these feelings? To get out of our head, and to stop the story, and to do this work, because it makes sense, right? Yep, the neuroscience supports it. There's even body scans of where different emotions are, and how they show up in the body. We've got so much science and data around this and yet, it can be really hard to do. What keeps us trapped in our heads, and actually stops us feeling and tapping into our bodies?
I think there's a lot of answers to that one. I would say, the first thing is that, I don't think women even know they have the option. That's the first place to look. So that they don't even know that they have the choice, to feel what there is to feel. Because I suspect that most people don't have a lot of people in their lives that give them permission to feel the way they feel.
And so then, we don't even know! We don't know how to feel the way we feel! Because, yeah, maybe we grew up and people said, "Don't be sad.” “Put on your happy face.” Or, you know, anger was a scary thing. And being angry meant you were being a petulant, defiant child or something. But every emotion is a totally natural and valid thing. We've learned from a very young age that maybe it's inappropriate.
And so, I think that's the first place. For not just women, really, for all humans, we haven't had permission to feel the way we feel. But then, as far as women specific, and beyond that. Hmm, I think that we're also a product of feminism, for better or for worse. And so, obviously, we know the advantages of that. And, you know, becoming modernised, and feeling valuable, and contributing to society. And we still have a ways to go with that, being equally valued, and equally paid, and all of these things.
But the downside of feminism is that we've become overly functioning human beings. Meaning, overly obsessed with achievement, production, doing. We call it "hustling" in our community here, right, Jo? There's this divorce, and separation, from being. Just "beingness”, or we call it “flow state”, the opposite of hustle, and so we've lost touch with, "Who am I, when I'm not doing?”
We don't even have access to it. Like, our whole identity is wrapped around: doing, doing, achievement, achievement, hustle, hustle. And we don't even know who we are anymore, if we weren't doing! And so the opportunity to just be is what's required to feel what you're feeling, right? So, if you're divorced from your “beingness”, if you feel like you must do, and produce, and function all day long, then when do you even have time to be with yourself and notice the grief that's been there for two weeks ever since your pet passed away?
And you actually haven't had time to process the grief, because life's too busy, full of doing! We don't actually have time for being, and being with our emotions. So I think that's specific for women, in losing touch with what we call, "feminine" or flow, or beingness.
Yeah, and I mean, as you said, some of this is generational. I have an English father, and an Australian mother who comes from Irish stock. And maybe, apart from some good old Irish guilt that gets passed down, feelings are not something that the English are particularly good at. And that's when, certainly, much of Australia's heritage, and much of the West is built on this environment, where most people's emotional literacy is mad, sad or glad.
And getting beyond that to even find words for what our emotions are, apart from mad, sad or glad, and it can be threatening, or scary, to go there because it's a box, and you don't know what you're going to unlock. And, as you mentioned, we become very immersed in this world of achievement, and it's brought us many wonderful things. However, the one thing that we talk a lot about in this community, is when our hustle muscle is really strong, and perhaps too strong, it shames flow. And it says things like, "You don't have time to feel, you don't have time to process, have you seen your to-do list?”
"You've got back to back meetings. You've got kids to take care of. And there becomes no time to even find that curiosity. And so the return investment, as some people like to ask me the question, "Well, I don't have time for feelings. They get in the way, they stuff things up, they make me really emotional, they make me lose it." What's the point? Why should we want to do this work and actually learn to be and learn to get in touch with our feelings? And not from an airy-fairy, “I'm going to become a hippie” kind of thing, but why is it beneficial for a woman who wants to be an achiever and wants success? How is tapping into this side of her, how is that going to support her?
Well, the first thing I have to say is, whether you like it or not, the emotions are there. So, you're either repressing them, or you're exploding with them anyway. Like, they are going to come out, like there's no stopping that. So, just to get that out of the way.
There's no stopping emotions.
You can repress them for so long, and then they will come out, and they might be an outburst that you regret. And this could be in a professional setting, or a home setting. And I think most people would rather prevent that. So the ROI is preventing future damage. It's damage control, right? It's a way of preventing future regrets. Because, like it or not, you're human, so those emotions are coming. So that's just like the first fundamental thing I have to say.
So, you know, beyond the damage control, you have, you know the more access you have to your emotions, the more access you have to joy. So, not only are you not worried about an outburst that all of a sudden snuck up on you from not spending time with your emotions, but you'll just feel better, because you'll have more access to feeling good as well! When we don't feel our emotions, usually the negative ones we're avoiding, we don't realise that we're also suppressing joy. So if you actually want to feel more joy in your life, then you have to be willing to feel the whole range of emotions. It doesn't work any other way, as long as I've experienced it, at least.
Now it comes to the box. And often people say to me, "I want the joy, and the calm, and the confidence, but I'd like to keep locked up the guilt and the shame and the fear." But, as you said, you unlock that box, and it all comes out. And this is where the toolkit comes in handy, right? You want the joy, and you want the calm, and ironically, all the women who come to us, they're the things that they want most: confidence, calm, and joy, would have to be in the top three.
Top three, absolutely. Yep.
They're not states you can access with your head, are they? So everyone says they want confidence, calm and joy. But no, no, no, feelings, not doing them. But what you want is a feeling. What you want is not in your head! It's a bit crazy, isn't it?
Yeah, you can't, you just can't! You can't get to a feeling state through your head. That's not how it works. When you said that, Jo, that reminded me: it's true. Every woman comes in, "I want to feel confidence." That's number one, I think. Number two is calm, and number three is joy. Or maybe they're like tied in second, but at any rate, all three of those.
Every time I hear that, I always invite people into two things. One is connection to your own personal power, because when you're connected to your personal power, confidence is a natural result. But, if you're chasing confidence, and you're not connected to your personal power, and I'll explain more what I mean about personal power. But, if you're not connected to that, then you're just going to criticise yourself for not feeling confident, and be like, "Oh man, I'm nervous again, and I wasn't confident, and I screwed it up, and I'm-" and then you just go down and to the spiral, and you judge yourself.
But, if you get connection to your personal power, and what I mean by that is, connection to your self worth, really. Connected to your value as a woman, as a Mum, as a professional. Just because you exist, you know what your superpowers are. You know what your strengths are. You know what you have to offer, and you stand in that, and you don't apologise for not being everything to everyone all the time.
And so it's removing this impossible, perfectionistic standard, wherever that came from, that you've weaponised against yourself, and letting yourself be enough as you are. And so when you can stand in that place, that's the people you're seeing who are confident! They're connected to their personal power, and it doesn't mean that they never second guess themselves, or that they never experience self doubt. The difference is that they don't stay there very long, because they're rooted to something deeper called their "personal power", their self worth.
So that's my invitation always, always, to people who say they want to feel more confident. And then, for the other pieces, around calm, or joy, I say I invite people into presence. Because if we try to chase calm, or try to chase happiness, we also can weaponise that. "Like, oh man, I lost my shit again. I lost my cool again!" “And I'm not being calm." “And my whole thing was that I'm supposed to be calm, be calm.” And it's just like that doesn't work very well, right, chasing calm or chasing. “I should be happy. Why aren't I happy, why aren't I grateful?” And we can just weaponise these things.
So I say come into presence and allow yourself, genuine, valid responses to stimuli. Let yourself experience grief, let yourself experience anger, whatever you're present to, whatever's true. And then let it move through you, journal it, scream it out, cry it out without making all stories about it and going down some terrible, disempowering story that's probably not true anyway. And this is where calm, then, could be a natural choice. You can choose calm, you can choose happiness, but we can't choose it if we're forcing ourselves into it, because it might not be the actual, accurate choice in a given moment.
An accurate choice could be, "I'm actually just angry. I'm not calm right now.” Let yourself be angry. Again, in a way that isn't vomiting or lashing out at people. That's not what I'm saying either. It's like being responsible for our emotions, but allowing them to. So that's what I have to say about those desired states. If you want to feel those ways, then you have to get connected to your personal power and your self-worth, and presence and allowing yourself whatever is valid.
Yeah, and the irony of all of this is that you have to really tame your hustle muscle in order for that to happen. So you have to ensure, because your hustle muscle is not going to make the space for any of this. This is where we see so much of the work we do in our community. You've got to be able to detach from the doing. Yes, you need to be more efficient at it. We've got to do things a different way, because that “doing” will rob you of all of this.
So, that's where the work begins. It's very easy to say "be present.” But when you've got this constant "next, next, next, next, next” going on in your head, that can feel impossible. So we've got to come at this work from multiple ways, don't we? But it's worth it in the end, right?
Absolutely, and a more pragmatic ROI. For those who are wondering, the ROI of dealing with their emotions. That feels like it's effort and messy, and it's true, it does take some effort and it does get messy. But a pragmatic ROI is that your leadership will exponentially benefit. Because when you lead people, you need to also lead humans, right? So, you need to be emotionally astute to be with them and their feels. Like, whatever they're experiencing in their life, because they're human beings with a life.
And they also want to feel from you. People love feeling connected to a leader who's connected to their self-worth. They don't know that. It's not necessarily that conscious, but we can feel it. We can feel somebody who's connected to their personal power. And who makes space for their own emotions, in their humanity. They're not like sitting up there, being like a robot, you know. We want to know that there's a human leading us. Again, a human who handles their, you know, emotions responsibly, but who isn't pretending that they don't have them.
And so, yeah, a big part of leadership is emotional intelligence: How do you lead people and be an inspiration to others? Because people can feel it. It can feel if you're present, or if you're in constant reactionary mode. If you're clogged up, emotionally constipated, then you're probably gonna be edgy with your employees, and they're gonna feel it. And then you're gonna have people who are kind of scared of you, or wondering, "How's she doing today?” Is she cranky today because she's backed up emotionally, because she won't take the time to deal with her emotions? But there's a huge ROI in this interpersonal aspect of our professional world right?
Not to mention in parenting. We usually want our kids to be their best selves. But, if we are suppressing our own emotions, then we inadvertently end up suppressing it in them. And I often joke about when we, you know, want to learn about how to deal with our emotions, just look at a toddler. Look at, or think back to your kids when they were little. And I still remember the days when I would give my daughter a banana, and the banana broke, and she would completely and utterly lose it, because the banana couldn't be put back together. And I can do many things, but I cannot fix a banana, and put it back together, and she would lose it. But she would lose it for, you know, one to two minutes and then she would take the banana and go, "Okay.”
So that's what toddlers do. The reason they have meltdowns is because they can't regulate their emotions And they let them flow through. When you watch their physicality. They get angry, and they're on the supermarket floor, and their arms are flailing, and their legs are going, because they couldn't have the thing they wanted. They're simply feeling a feeling.
I know there have been opportunities when I've wanted to be in a boardroom and be like, "You’re not listening to me”, and you've wanted to throw your fists around you. Unfortunately, as humans operating in the real world, we can't always lose it like a toddler. But if you put yourself back in their shoes, how can you learn from that? And how do you ensure you're bringing that presence, and this sense to your parenting, and to your relationships in your personal life as well?
So not only from a leadership perspective, but you want your kids to build true confidence, not fake confidence. You don't want your kids to grind through calm, or the whole family to be walking on eggshells, because no one knows when Mum's gonna either burst into tears, or yell at them. Or be grumpy, and then we become drill sergeants, and this becomes the way that we raise our children, and then the cycle perpetuates. So, if we want to break this cycle, and have emotionally regulated kids, well, we've got to start with ourselves, don't we?
Absolutely. I'm thinking in the boardroom. Yes, at that moment you can't throw a fit, but you can take time. It could be at your work, or it could be when you get home, to you know, scribble it out furiously on a pad of paper, or scream it out in a pillow. Or run it out. I mean, something that helps you take all that heat and energy that's moving through you, and move it through you as opposed to just stuffing it down. And then again, the clarity of communication improves henceforth, once you let that energy move through you, because you're cleared up, you literally are clearer. So, you can be clearer in your communication.
Same with your kids. Right, you might just be like, "Mum needs some time out.” “Mum's gonna go, I'm feeling really angry”, and that's for me to be responsible for. You can literally teach that. "I need to be responsible for my anger." "I'm feeling angry right now. I'm gonna go, take care of it. I'm gonna be back In five minutes or an hour or whatever.” Or if you can't take it at that moment, then you take that time later in the day when you can afford it.
But it's something you get to model, and then they know that they can do that for themselves too. That you're responsible for your emotions, and then you can still communicate about it afterwards, what the actual thing was to communicate. Whatever you were upset about, disappointed about, whatever boundaries you need to create. That communication must be there. That communication, again, will be clearer when you are clearer.
Yeah, some beautiful lessons. And I think, Jaclyn, this conversation is a beautiful example of why I brought you onto the team here. It's because I've got a lot of the mindset components and the strategy. But we aren't gonna get the same results unless we get that alignment, that balance, between our head and our heart. Between our mind and our body, because that's what feelings are.
And emotions are the language of the body. And we've got these thoughts, the language of the mind, and we've got to have the two, if we're actually going to build the life we want. Because most of what we want is in the body. We've got to, you know, build that up and make it happen.
So, thank you for sharing all about these fuzzy things. I think, hopefully, everybody has got a better understanding of the body and the mind. Hopefully everybody has got a better understanding, that they are more than just fuzzy things. They are actually our pathway to joy. They are going to improve our performance, they're going to change how we show up in the world. And ultimately, you know, in dealing with our hustle muscle, in getting balance in all the parts of ourselves, that's how we get to this much more blissful life. Thanks for joining me, Jaclyn!
OUTRO: Thank you for joining us today on the Balance and Beyond Podcast. We're so glad you carved out this time for yourself. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with a friend who might need to hear this today. And if you're feeling extra generous, leaving us a review on your podcast platform of choice would mean the world. If you’re keen to dive deeper into our world, visit us at www.balanceinstitute.com to discover more about the toolkit that has helped thousands of women avoid burnout and create a life of balance, and beyond. Thanks again for tuning in, and we'll see you next time on the Balance & Beyond Podcast.
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