This post is by Psychology Melbourne psychologist OrlyMiller
What are emotions? Emotions are body sensations.
What does anxiety feel like? Tight and constricted like I can't get a deep breath.
What does sadness feel like? Heavy and dense like a weight pulling me down.
What does joy feel like? Spacious and expansive.
We experience each emotion as a set of sensations somewhere in our body. Some feelings, like joy and love feel good. Some feelings like anxiety and sadness feel uncomfortable. It's not pleasurable to feel so constricted that we can't get a deep breath or to feel so heavy that we can't get up.
As humans we're designed to seek pleasure and avoid pain. This has a necessary survival function. However it is not helpful when it comes to emotional experiencing.
In an attempt to avoid feeling uncomfortable emotions, we engage in avoidance behaviours that can often be harmful. For example we might drink alcohol excessively, take drugs, numb via screens, disconnect from our bodies, reach for the phone, the bread or the sugar. This way of disconnecting from our bodies can cause psychological, physiological and spiritual harm.
The alternative to these dysfunctional avoidance behaviours is to simply feel your feelings. Even though they may be uncomfortable, it is safe to feel your feelings. The more we allow ourselves to experience them, the better we get at appreciating our existence.