For the most part, the majority of us do not understand the holistic healing process. If we get involved in a spiritual community (not religion) we may begin to hear things about chakras, energetic bodies and the term “healing” which has now become popular.
But what is healing exactly and why are we so much more emotionally unhinged now that we were before?
According to intuitive Jill Willard, there are four main bodies of energy that need to be healed on our spiritual journeys. They are the mental body, the physical body, the emotional body, and the spiritual body. When these four entities are in balance, we are in alignment with who we really are. When I discovered that both the mental and the physical body were related to our masculine energy and the emotional and spiritual bodies related to our feminine energy — a lightbulb went off. No wonder we have been so imbalanced for so long! We have favored only the mental (our thoughts and attitudes) and the physical (the way we look and physically feel) over our emotions, and certainly, spirituality. We have been over doing our masculine at the expense of the feminine for far too long.
So how did we manage up until now?
Sex and physical intimacy. You see there are two ways to heal the emotional body. One is through talk therapy and kundalini yoga (which is known to really balance out the feminine energy). The other is through balancing our hormones and increasing physical intimacy. My generation wasn’t known as the hook up culture for nothing — we were experimenting with managing our emotions through a primitive form of intimacy and physical touch.
Why Talk Therapy Never Worked For Me
In my private practice, I’ve moved away from offering traditional talk therapy because I never liked being a traditional therapist and it was not what helped me heal my emotional body. Using diet to balance my emotions early on in my journey helped me heal. Getting off the birth control pill helped me significantly heal. Tango helped me heal. Pilates and yoga helped me heal. Gyrotonics helped me heal. Reflexology and massage helped me heal. I had no idea what I was doing through the years when I was drawn to so many physical activities until my healer said to me, “You’re a Taurus. Sensuality and touch are important for you.”
“But I was trained to be a therapist. Isn’t that hypocritical?” I stared at my healer early on in my process.
“There are multiple ways to heal the emotional body,” she said. “You already have a strong mental body. Talk therapy is going to imbalance your masculine energy when you really need to focus on balancing your feminine energy. For you, talking about emotions is not helpful but feeling them in your body is helpful.”
I didn’t miss a beat after that conversation to prioritize my dance training and physical activity as part of my mental wellness routine. This was a hugely corrective experience as I was told by my family as a child that things like dancing were a waste of time and now I understood why I needed dance as part of my regular routine.
When Talk Therapy is the Right Fit
While talk therapy was not something that I found that helpful (even though I spent a crap ton of money on it personally — just like you) it is a good fit for many, many people. It is even more important to think about whether this is a good fit for you if you believe, like so many of us, you were using your dating and sex life to help manage your emotions. Most of us unknowingly have. It is why we are struggling so much with loneliness right now — we did not know that the physical connection with someone else was serving a whole different purpose. So for people who have been using sex and physical intimacy as a way to manage emotions, then the time has come to switch to the other side and start talk therapy. Learning to be intimate with your emotions by yourself is important for your development. This is especially true if you value the mental body above everything else.
If you are engaging in talk therapy just to vent — because, let’s face it, sometimes we just need someone to talk to — then the time may have come for you to open up to other ways to balance your healing. If you have been in talk therapy for a very long time, a check in on your physical body may help you determine if you are imbalanced in favor of the mind. The healing process is usually a journey of discovery and that can sometimes take us on different paths at different times of our lives to help heal different types of issues.
Most of us in major cities in North America are unbalanced and favor intellect over emotions. This will not serve us any longer.
When You Are Over Talk Therapy
Talk therapy is usually the first attempt many of us make to step onto a healing journey. When we go through a hard time or a bad breakup, our friends recommend us to go to therapy. We may be making progress and recommend to friends to go to restorative yoga or go dancing to help with our emotions but, since this pandemic has hit, our options for physical activities have been limited. The decrease in physical intimacy whether through social dancing, getting a massage or needing to work 1:1 with a professional has gone out the window. This, in combination with many relationships ending, has led many people into a downward spiral in managing their emotions.
For those of us who need a more physical approach to managing the emotions, there are two avenues that can be explored. First, manage your hormones. Second, find an individual, embodiment practice that works for you.
My favorite book for couples that talks about hormones is, Beyond Mars and Venus by John Gray, PhD. It is brilliant in its simplicity of how to organize your life around your hormones so that you can keep your emotions balanced. It talks about the importance of intimacy outside of your relationship and why social connections with others helps to regulate our hormone levels. It quickly puts the responsibility for the health of any relationship on the individual to know when it is time for solitary behavior, when is it time for friend/group activities and when is it time for couple activities. When our hormones are balanced — so are our emotions.
Now during this time of the pandemic, can you imagine what it would be like to arrange your work schedule around your hormones? I have been doing that for years and it helps to regulate my energy levels so I don’t burn out (again).
Since I have a history of burning out, I’ve learned that my physical activity needs to be slow and with repetitive movements. This helps manage the emotions by getting them out of my body and also quiets the mind (as you remember that talking about things can be too much for my already strong mental capacities). Yoga has been a lifesaver for me (and it has been for many people) in terms of teaching me the importance of slowing down, paying attention to my bodily sensations and calming the nervous system.
Talk therapy does not always calm the nervous system down. If you have a history of trauma, talk therapy will need to be in conjunction with other practices that help you balance the physical body. During pandemic times, we should have argued with our employers for adult nap time to counteract the stress we have been feeling about our health and safety. Too much talking without calming the nervous system actually can make things worst. This was not something I understood until I worked with young children with PTSD who also had parents with PTSD — the first step in intervention was to tell the parents to stop talking to their children and start observing their child’s subtle cues of physiological distress.
Signs you Need Something Other Than or In Addition To Talk Therapy
- Your hormones are out of balance due to a history of trauma. This will likely mean your cortisol levels are not in balance which can lead to more anxiety and depression. It is best to go to your medical doctor or a naturopathic doctor to have your hormones tested and see if there is anything unusual. Men often have low testosterone as they age and this can cause havoc with the emotional body. Women’s hormones can be easily brought out of alignment and may need changes to the diet or a lifestyle to find more balance following a traumatic event. Again a naturopathic doctor or a women’s health specialist can look at your hormones and see if this is playing a role with your emotions.
- You have zero intuition. Talk therapy is going to help people with strong emotions find more balance through rational thinking. If, however, you already are leaning toward the very rational side — you may need to develop your intuition and dive forward into another practice that puts you in touch with your emotions. This may be a call to adding a more embodied approach to your workout routine and a need to connect spiritually via meditation.
- We have too many emotions and talking about it seems draining. I see this a lot and experienced this. It was a symptom of my adrenal glands being out of balance due to a long history of nervous system malfunctioning. For some people, talking about it increases stress in the nervous system. If you, again, have high levels of intelligence and are comfortable with your mental body, restorative and gentle yoga may be what you need to find balance.
- You don’t move your body at all and expect talk therapy to fix your emotions. A complete lack of movement and exercise is likely the underlying reasons for your imbalance in emotions to begin with (assuming you can move your body). Shifting your mindset to seeing that physical practices are just as important as mental practices for balancing your emotions may give you the motivation you need to make lifestyle changes in line with who you authentically are. Even starting meditation (because it brings awareness to the spiritual) can help shift things.
Sometimes we have to find the balance in the emotions before we understand the wisdom of the emotions.
Talk Therapy is Not a Cure All — Just the Start of a Journey
I work with a lot of women who are tired of traditional talk therapy. I get it. Focusing on the mental body is a focus on masculine energy and at different points in your healing, this may not be what is needed. I, however, do encourage you then to follow your physical body as the second option of brining emotions into balance. It is through the physical body and understanding the self that we can then move into relationship with other healthy individuals. So we need to be honest with ourselves — have we been in a co-dependent relationship with other people where we look to our dating life and relationships as the source of our emotional balance OR can we stand on our own and connect with our own body first? If you have made it to the latter, then, when this pandemic is over, you will be in an excellent place to find a new, healthy relationship that supports you on your next stage of growth.
And if we are still at the level of blaming narcissists — I really do understand. I have been there but just keep in mind that these experiences are supposed to launch you forward on your personal development journey. It is the path of relational spirituality and that path requires you to determine which direction you would like to take your healing journey. This will be the year we get intimate with our emotions and you have choices in how you would like to learn to balance them.
Dr. Jennifer B. Rhodes is a licensed psychologist, relationship expert and the forthcoming author of Toxic Insecurity: Our Search for Authentic Love.She specializes in working with highly sensitive teens and young adults who are exploring ways to manage their anxiety, empathic skills, and relational trauma stemming from romantic breakups or difficulties in the parent-child relationship through the use of intuitive guidance, yoga, tango and transpersonal psychology. You can follow her on Instagram @jenniferbrhodes