“I feel so torn! Do I do what my head tells me or do I follow my heart?”
We are often under the impression that our heart and our mind are two separate entities. Warring opposites that constantly jostle for our attention — with “irrational” emotions on one end, and the “rational” mind at the other.
As a result of this “one or the other” type of reasoning, this perceived polarity perpetuates a dichotomy that absolutely vilifies one and exalts the other on a subconscious level.
Therefore, whenever we personally experience emotional distress or trauma, or hear of others going through them, we automatically think it is a matter of unruly emotions being illogical and out of control.
This erroneous belief blinds us to the fact that emotional distress and general poor mental health is really a matter of the mind; a neurological dysfunction, rather than of the heart.
Emotions — They’re In Your Brain
Medically speaking, the heart does not feel or process emotions. It isn’t the seat of emotions as claimed by some literature.
In fact, emotions reside in our brains.
In other words, emotions are logical responses hardwired into our being.
Through years of research and scientific study by neuroscientists, emotions were found to be located at the hippocampus and amygdala, which are part of the limbic system, located in the central region of the brain. This is also connected to the brain stem by which sensory information (the five senses) is sent and received.
The hippocampii (one on each brain hemisphere) are responsible for processing memories. The amygdala is where the infamous fight-or-flight fear response is activated.
Emotions are a result of complex interactions of neurochemistry; chemical sensors in the brain that relay information from the external world to our internal mental processes and vice versa.
These automatic interactions chart unique patterns of brain activity that characterise emotion or more typically, a “mix” of emotions.
Therefore, when it comes to examining our emotional health and emotional wholeness, it isn’t some illogical, abstract debate on “matters of the heart”. It is actually about the state of your mind. It is about experiencing good mental health.
Emotional Wholeness Is Good Mental Health
Our emotional health is dependent on how our mind functions.
From navigating life’s challenges, processing trauma, emotional hurts, storing memories and so on, the mind develops and selects a strategy to cope with external situations and life events.
The health of your mind and the state of your emotions are so closely related that it is impossible to separate the two.
Recovering your mental health is about working towards emotional healing and wholeness.
So the next time you reach for a book or read an article on self-help or emotional healing, give yourself a pat on the back for working towards good mental health!
Image Source: Science Daily