What makes ou heart literally feel out emotions, like a “full heart” when we are proud or our “heart dropping” when we’re disappointed?



I get hormones have something to do with it, but how does it work?

In: Biology

The heart is, to all intents and purposes, a muscle, but it conducts hormones around the body. In this way it influences profoundly how we feel. This can be felt in our entire bodies – because once hormones enter the bloodstream, they will be in every organ. This is why it is possible to feel something in our hearts – its very tissue is flooded with blood – but also in our entire bodies. Pain can be so consuming we feel it as whole-body pain. The same applies to joy.
But then things get even more interesting:
Did you know, for instance, that the gut has its own brain, consisting of 100 000 neurons? Speaking about ‘I had a hunch’ or ‘feeling something in my gut’ is a biological reality. These neurons make connections. There is a form of intelligence there.
As someone who studies the brain for her work, the thing which interests me the most is the notion that decisions which are NOT made taking the subsconscious and gut’s brain into account, are not authentic, and so you are not being congruent in your decision-making. Failing to consult your gut in your decision-making usually leads to major difficulties later on in life – and oftentimes deep unhappiness. I have seen this time and time again in my practice as a coach – in fact I would say that most clients who have only been using their logic in life arrived feeling utterly suffocated and were some of the unhappiest people I have ever met – despite their career success. Conventional icons of success, such as money, status and position, seem hollow when positioned against the more meaningful outcomes suggested by the heart, the subsconscious mind – and dare, I say, our souls. Alongside EQ, we now also have SQ, Spiritual Intelligence, to think about.
This professional experience is practical evidence that the gut brain and subconscious carry a bigger role in life than many people think – and one that is crucial for our well-being. Learning to marshall their reflective abilities when we perform thinking and decision-making tasks is critical for our happiness and essential for healthy living.
When someone comes to me for coaching, and this is often Executive Coaching, no matter what their goals and issues are, I normally find that they have a disconnect from their unsconscious and gut somewhere in their deliberating and this is very often my point of access for change. It is a common misconception to believe that we must make our decisions logically. Yes, it is important to consult logic, but we need to see it as one part of a triad, with the gut (our hunches or intuition) and our subsconscious as the other entities. It may be helpful to see them as consultants.
It has been said that we make our decisions emotionally and consult our logical brain afterwards. This does not surprise me, but my practice shows we don’t even do this well, actually, especially when we are so completely disconnected from what we really want and intuitively believe we can do. The notion of using intuition or your gut in business will no doubt sound crazy to many, but it is big business now – people run workshops about it – because it ensures that a vital part of our psyche is brought into the equation, allowing us to generate a more grounded and therefore also a more sustainable solution. You can imagine the business gains that can be made from this – or, if you approach this from a defensive position and one of crisis management, the losses you can avoid making. We have all kicked ourselves at one time or another, saying ‘I knew this would happen – I wish I had followed my gut on that’.
So how do you consult your gut and subconscious?
Funnily enough it starts with a conscious process, in which I invite my clients to create a new relationship with Self, for which read their psyche, by taking on board some of the neuro-information which I drop into the conversation and by doing a series of exercises, in which they are invited to explore a new way of brainstorming and reflecting on their life. We do a lot in ‘play’ mode – the best vehicle for learning – but I am also deeply taken by the courage of some of my clients to bypass play and dive right into the hard work.
Perhaps the best thing about all this is the results you get when you start consulting those other ‘feeling’ parts of you, and then finesse your ability to do this over time – there are exercises that you can learn to do and they are really interesting. I wish I could ever begin to describe the changes I see in people when they do this. It is the best part of my job – and it’s why I get up in the morning.
The heart is a feeling organ indeed.