Being human calls you to experience the world in a sea of emotions. Some are life-giving, while others have stolen segments of your life from you. If you desire to live a life of abundance, happiness, and peace, you must first understand how your emotions impact your ability to do so, and most importantly, you must find a way to address painful emotions so they can be transformed.
To ignore or deny painful emotions only serves to set the stage for an emotional eruption or a disease state at some point in the future. Your body cannot ignore emotional distress any more than it can ignore the physical touch of a burning stove. You must either process the emotional pain in a timely manner or run the risk of burying the pain in your tissues. Whims of uncontrolled anger, shame, or anxiety experienced today most often find their impetus in previously experienced events in our lives. Undoubtedly, you have found it is almost unbearable to look behind the veil of anger, resentment, or fear without feeling shame and regret. However, no matter how painful life can be, you are never alone left without help. God has promised that he will strengthen you, he will help you, and he has told you that you do not need to be afraid.
“Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed. I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10
EMOTIONS AND YOUR BODY
Modern science is looking at the intimate connection between your emotions and disease. You may be surprised to learn that the emotions your ancestors experienced not only changed their DNA and biochemistry, but studies now show that this changed DNA is also passed onto subsequent generations when extreme trauma is experienced. Yes, you heard that correct. If your parents and grandparents experienced significant stressors in their lives, this could have a significant negative effect on your DNA.
With the use of EKGs (electrocardiographs, which are instruments that record the electrical activity of the heart) and EEGs (electroencephalographs, which record the electrical activity of the brain), scientists have observed that the heart’s electrical activity is significantly greater than the electrical activity of the brain. Let’s reflect for a moment on this. Our heart’s energy is bigger than our brain’s energy. Given this, shouldn’t we be paying significant attention to our heart and the message it has for us? You know, our inner voice, our intuition? Yet, how many of us today walk around thinking, planning, and applying logic to our lives? Now, I am not saying it is bad to use our brain, quite the contrary. God gave us a human brain for a reason and it can accomplish great things! I for one, am grateful for the mind that created the computer I used to create this book. However, the modern person seems to have lost touch with their heart. We are a thinking generation, we have to see the proof, we have to see the science, and we highly value logic and reason to the point of idolizing it.
All the while we are missing the sweet spot! Our hearts hold our greatest power because they hold the healing emotion of love. Perhaps we hold our greatest power in our hearts because it is in our heart that Jesus lives. However, to trust in the power of our heart requires faith in a world beyond the world we know now, a world that we can come to know through our heart.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible. – Hebrews 11:1-3
There was another study done on the DNA changes resulting from the extreme trauma endured by Holocaust survivors. What the team found with these 32 men and women may surprise you. A marker attached to the DNA of the survivors as a result of the trauma of the Holocaust. In turn this marker altered their DNA. Additionally, this altered DNA was then passed down to their children. This is called epigenetic inheritance – the idea that one’s environment imparts a change in DNA and this new DNA is then passed down to the children and grandchildren. So my thought is this – if science already reveals to us the negative change trauma has on our DNA and the DNA we pass on to the generations that follow us, is it possible that we can positively affect our DNA and pass a healthier DNA down to our children and the generations that follow? My reply is a resounding YES! And this is what The LIVE Method is all about, making a real change for today, tomorrow and all generations that follow.
BRAINS, EMOTIONS AND CHEMISTRY
Let’s chat a little bit about your central nervous system, with a discussion about neuropeptides. Neuropeptides, chemical messengers in the body, team up with various biochemicals including serotonin, GABA, dopamine, and other biochemicals that all contribute to how you feel. When neuropeptides are released during emotions such as anger, shame, or anxiety, neuropeptides lock into a very specific pattern reflective of these emotions. The more you experience a particular emotion the deeper set this configuration becomes in your body’s organs. This also holds true for emotions such as love, joy, and peace. Think of this akin to grooves in a record that has been played over and over again. Eventually, the grooves become rather deep. When you experience repeated emotions, your body behaves in a similar manner. If you have a long history of harmful emotions, then when life throws you a curve-ball, your knee-jerk reaction will be to experience harmful emotions again and again—unless you do something to interrupt this pattern.
YOUR SYMPATHETIC VS. PARASYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM
Let’s look briefly at your response to stress and how it affects your system in another way—the parasympathetic and sympathetic components of your nervous system. Consider for a moment your ability of fight or flight when exposed to a stressor. During exposure to a threatening stressor, your body will engage your sympathetic system—your fight or flight system. At this point, your body is sending most of its energy to your large muscle groups and your cardiovascular system so that you can take action. Stress hormones are released throughout your system, and your adrenals are switched into high gear. Needless to say, at this point, your body is not in a position to repair or heal itself. It is focused with survival.
A quick look at the world today and we can see that stress is the cause of many of our modern-day diseases. We are a group of people running on adrenaline! Remember, your body responds to stress when you are actually in the stressful moment and when you are thinking about a stressor—one more reason to not watch scary movies or listen to harmful gossip!
So when does your body heal itself? Healing and regeneration occur when your parasympathetic system is engaged. This happens during prayer, meditation, relaxation, and when the body is at peace. Additionally, while in a parasympathetic state, your body can digest your food optimally. Meal time can be one of the most healing moments in our lives, providing we take our time to enjoy our meal and engage in heartfelt conversation with those around our table.
It’s obviously important to incorporate daily activities where you can enjoy yourself, whether that’s reading, playing, praying, or spending time with your loved ones. I invite you to find a morning routine that sets a healthy intention for the day, one that is grounded in Christ. I also invite you to find a new way to deal with life’s stressors. When I am upset, I often go to the perpetual adoration chapel at my parish and spend some time with Our Lord in prayer.
1 Peter 5:6, 7 – Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you. Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you.
EMOTIONS AND YOUR ENNEAGRAM NUMBER
Understanding your Enneagram type will serve you in this area. Each Enneagram type carries an underlying dominant emotion. When you are under stress you will tend towards the emotion associated with your type. For example, types Eight, Nine, and One tend towards anger when they are under stress. Whereas types Two, Three, and Four tend towards shame. And types Five, Six, and Seven tend towards anxiety. While each of us will experience anger, shame, and anxiety there lies within a tendency to lean a certain way based on the Enneagram type we identify with. Understanding your unique internal voice, and the emotions that follow, is central to transformation. This voice is a combination of your life experiences, inherited tendencies, and interactions with others – all experienced through the lens of your Enneagram type.
If he who is in the world, Satan, created the trauma and pain that led to all the above mentioned physical and emotional responses, then do you believe that the One who is within, Jesus Christ, has the power to heal it all? Of course he does, and since this healing hasn’t happened on a large, worldwide scale, we know that humanity is still a work in progress.
If you would like to schedule a session with Carolyn or inquire about inviting her to speak at an upcoming event or retreat of yours we invite you to click here: Carolyn Berghuis, MS, ND, CTN