PAWS

A simple strategy to help you become more emotionally aware:

P – Pause
Pause, even for a moment or two and up to a few minutes where possible, often through the day, for example:
as soon as you notice a symptom onset, change or increase
when you notice a ‘button’ has been pressed
any time you notice you are feeling angry, upset, scared etc
for 10 – 15 minutes at least once in the day to allow yourself to tune in to how you are feeling and develop this ‘felt’ sense

A – Awareness
Put your awareness on the inside of your body, maybe around your heart area and then just allow yourself to notice any sensations that appear. As you notice them name them, out loud if you can. This might include for example, ‘my chest is tight’, ‘I notice a feeling of sadness’, ‘my big toe is itching’, ‘my chest is easing’ etc. Once you verbally note the sensation, bring your awareness gently back to your body.

W – Watch
Continue observing with curiosity, noting and naming as you become aware of any sensations as they pass through your body. If at first you only notice pains or tight muscles for example, that’s fine and you could move on to ask a question of your unconscious mind and allow your body to respond. e.g. ‘What’s causing this pain/tension in my head/back?’
Note: You are asking consciously but your body will respond unconsciously through sensations as emotions surface and process through. Continue to note and name without thinking about what’s happening and why.

S – Surrender
This is not a thinking exercise and trying to work out what’s happening, or why, will create resistance to emotional processing. This is about surrendering to whatever happens which will allow the emotions to be expressed, without going into the story behind it. If you consider the symptoms to be your inner child ‘crying out for help’, then this might help you surrender to what he/she is trying to tell you and just being there for her/him. Occasional words of encouragement can also help reduce the resistance, for example, ‘It’s OK, we’re safe’ when you have named an emotion or sensation.

It is normal for people to find this challenging to begin with. Often we have been so used to soothing or distracting ourselves, that we have been mostly unaware of how we feel and so this takes time to become more in tune with the sensations our emotions produce in our bodies.

Be kind to yourself, practice and just note whatever you observe and in time you will begin to notice more sensation as you develop this ‘felt’ sense.

Hopefully this will help you realise that even if you aren’t yet aware of how you feel, the emotions are there and in time you will become more able to feel how you feel and acknowledge them.

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