One of the key skills we can develop when working closely with our body's sensations and emotions is to learn to distinguish the difference between sensations and emotions that feel very similar.
Here are a few common examples:
* Fear/anxiety/nervousness feel VERY similar in the body to excitement or anticipation
* Feeling cold, hungry or tired can lead our body to exhibit symptoms easily mistaken as nerves or fear
* Anger and frustration often produce VERY similar
behaviours and bodily sensations - yet have very different messages and require different responses
* Tears can arise when feeling sadness or grief AND happiness or joy
* Irritability and tension might not indicate anger, but rather pent-up grief or fear.
One immediate, easy way to check which is which is to ask yourself if your basic physical needs are being met or not: Am I cold? Hungry? Tired? Stressed? Feeling under pressure? Whenever I am tired, I feel more cold and hungry; whenever I am cold, hungry or stressed, my body shakes as if I am anxious. Often, just seeing to my immediate physical needs alleviates the sensations and my nervous system calms down. My mind can then stop searching for something to misdirect some fear towards.
Another way is to tune-into your heart and ask: What am I REALLY feeling right now? And what do I need or want the most?
Finally, a way to discernment can be taken through carefully tracking the sensation to the place in the body where it is most felt and asking the sensation for a message. Then returning to assess how the sensation changes or not as you acknowledge the body's information and apply it to your current life and needs.
© Angela Dunning, 16th September 2019
For more on working with the body see the following posts: Equine Inspired Embodied Awareness; The Body as Portal to Healing; Your Body Doesn't Lie; When Your Body is Ready it WILL Let Go; Body-Soul Work Through Horses.