• Taylor Adams, MA, LPC

Nurturing Difficult Emotions (Integration Process)

I have written about how unhealed trauma and childhood wounds affect our current realities in my blog (Messages from Trauma). It is not enough, though, to solely have an intellectual understanding of this dynamic if the goal is to truly shift into an integrated state of being.

In the context of this article, integration is to compassionately connect with all aspects and fragments within ourselves so that we can be, feel, and act in alignment with our true soul’s purpose. When we are disintegrated, we tend to react and behave in mechanical ways which are the byproducts of conditioning; we are disconnected from our intuition. To be integrated is to deconstruct the inner-programs that limit us as well as connect with our innate resources.

There is not just one way to begin the integration process, and there is no quick-fix. If there is a genuine intent to begin or continue deep self-work, then tools will present themselves to you on your path, and they will be appropriate for where you are at on your journey.

The following is a step-by-step process on how to get in touch with the emotional body through nurturing difficult emotions. This process will allow the rejected, suppressed, and uncomfortable aspects within yourself to be integrated into the wholeness of you so that you may move beyond the boundaries of defense mechanisms and conditioning. Notice how the term nurture is used versus fix or get rid of. We must be present with and for our emotions as difficult as they may be; otherwise, we are further disowning parts of ourselves.

You may begin when you notice yourself experiencing an intense emotional reaction (trigger) to something or when you have a quiet space to be entirely present with yourself.

1. Breathe. Breathe in and out, deeply, through your nose. Do this several times. Bring your breathing to a comfortable level, but without taking long pauses between breaths (this allows you to remain focused on your breathing and be present in the moment).

2. Tune In. Emotions can be felt in the body. Scan your body and notice any sensations that you feel (e.g., Tingling in feet? Tightness in the throat? Aching in the chest? Warmth in the face?). Sometimes, emotions feel like they are increasing in intensity when we focus on them. This is fine. Simply take notice while breathing into them.

3. Be Present. Remain present with your emotions. Allow them to exist. Allow them to be felt. You don’t have to like them. Keep breathing. It may be helpful to repeat to yourself, “I am here for you” as you continue to breathe into your emotions. You do not need to make sense of them. Just allow, feel, and breathe.

4. Receive. When you feel ready, allow your emotions to speak to you. Receive any messages that your body might be sending you. Compassionately ask, “What is it that you need from me?” It might just be your unconditional presence. “When have I felt you before?” “When is the first time I have felt you?” “How can I nurture you?” You may receive answers in form of images, memories, sensations, knowing, etc. The goal is NOT to turn this process into an intellectual mind game; rather, it’s to feel into your body and take observation of what (if anything) comes up.

5. Nurture. Staying connected to the vulnerability within you, allow yourself to nurture whatever comes up. Does this vulnerable aspect need validation? Acknowledge it. Does it need someone to trust? Be there for it. Does it need you to know something? Listen. If it helps, you can even visualize your adult or higher-self interacting with the inner-child within you.

6. BONUS – Write down anything that stands out about your experience. Journaling about processes like these can further crystallize the experience.

Getting into the practice of nurturing difficult emotions will have a beneficial impact on your life as it will allow you to experience more compassion, patience, and understanding for yourself and others. With regular practice, you will notice changes in your life as you continue integrating. The shift in your energy will be reflected to you in your outer-world. People, places, and things that no longer serve to maintain these difficult emotions and suppressed aspects will diminish or transmute into forces which support your growth.