"The human mind is a relational and embodied process that regulates the flow of energy and information." ~ Daniel J. Siegel
We are emotional creatures and we are born to express emotions freely and openly. Somewhere along the way, however, many of us have learned to suppress emotions, especially those considered "negative", to adapt, to gain love and be accepted. This was my experience.
I grew up in a house where the motto was "Children must be seen, not listened to". There was a small emotional expression allowed, not to say accepted. No one was there to validate or help us process emotions in a healthy way. Anger was greeted with rage, the fear was ignored, and there was a lot of shame for going around.
My parents have not modeled how to deal with difficult emotions, as they have struggled with that same. When those emotions occurred, I often felt overwhelmed and inadequate, ashamed of my inability to be a "good girl".
I learned to bury my pain in depth, feeling invisible, shameful, angry, alone and unable to ask for what I needed. Trying to hide the pain, from others and from myself, I built walls, worn masks and worn the soldier. For the best or the worst.
My pain was buried so deeply, I did not realize it was there until I had my children. Motherhood has opened old wounds, the house of cards has collapsed and I have begun to undo.
At the age of thirty, facing growing angst and creeping depression – and motivated to be the best parent I could be for my children – I began to treat repressed memories and old emotional remnants that left me with affection from C-PTSD, chronic back pain, sciatica, headaches and anxiety.
As a child, I hid from emotional pain by digging into the world of books, music and academics. As an adult, I realized that I was strong enough to face it. I was no longer a small child; I did not have to hide. Now I was more mature and I had the resources I needed to finally deal with the pain that had the habit of overwhelming my young brain and starting to heal it.
The truth is that sometimes we hide our emotions. Let's pretend, avoid and deny uncomfortable emotions in an effort of self-preservation, as a defense mechanism.
We often do it with difficult emotions like shame, fear or anger. When we experience events that overwhelm us emotionally and we are unable to process what is happening, accept our emotions and express them through our body and mind, we hide them deep within us where others can not see them. And we end up hiding them from ourselves too. Still, they are still there.
Unresolved emotions remain trapped in our body where they build and undermine, draining our energy, leading to burnout, emotional imbalance and eventually sickness. When we chronically repress emotions, we create toxicity in our body, mind and heart.
This unprocessed emotional energy is stored in our organs, muscles and tissues. It leads to inflammation and chronic health problems and undermines our overall well-being.
3 steps to process the emotional energy stuck in your body
The opposite of repression is expression. In order to process our emotional distress and move it though and out of our body so as not to get stuck there, we need to learn how to express our emotions in a healthy way, in body and mind. But first, we must learn to recognize and accept our feelings when they come and go.
Step 1: Recognize (self-awareness)
The challenge is to recognize the emotion and feel it in your body. This is where awareness comes into play. The goal is to notice what is happening in our body, accept it and feel it fully, without judgment.
If you have ever met the teachings of Tara Brach on radical acceptance, the practice of R.A.I.N. it should look familiar RAIN. it means recognizing, permitting, investigating and nurturing (with self-compassion), and "directly affects the habitual ways in which you endure moment-to-moment experience," according to Brach.
The Buddhist teachings tell us that human suffering is caused by aversion and resistance to what is happening. The acceptance is free and the practice of R.A.I.N. it teaches us to accept our experience moment by moment instead of escaping from it. It teaches us to face any difficulty head-on, with self-compassion and understanding that will eventually pass.
We must feel it to heal it – we must fully experience the excitement to process it and integrate it into our experience.
But we must feel it in the body; this is the critical point. As Brach writes, "if the process of including difficult emotions in awareness stops at the level of cognitive understanding without a fully incorporated experience, the genuine acceptance, intuition and inner freedom that are the essence of true healing will not be complete. "
Practice awareness to improve the recognition of your feelings and the observation of bodily sensations connected to these feelings, which come and go during the day. Offer self-compassion as you pass through more difficult emotions.
Sit still for a few minutes with your eyes closed. Listen to your body and become curious.
How do you feel your body right now? Is there any pressure or tingling? Where is it? Do you feel heavy, hot, contracted, hot or cold? What is the consistency, weight and shape of the sensations you notice in your body? Which emotions are connected with these feelings? Can you breathe in the parts that call your attention? What do those parts of your body want to tell you? What they want?
Step 2: Answer (self-expression)
Emotions must be expressed to be processed. The goal is to move the energy of emotions through and out of the body so we can let it go.
This expression of oneself must be authentic and embodied. Remember, true healing occurs when the body and mind integrate, then express the emotion at the body level first of all.
Always sitting, ask yourself: what do you need this emotion that you just connected? What seems right at the moment? What do you need?
Maybe you feel the need to cry, scream in a pillow, take a swim, walk or run, dance, hit a punching bag, do gardening, tap, yoga or THREE, paint your feelings or just breathe deeply while facing the sun, whatever cathartic feels at that moment, do it.
You will free the poisonous emotion that you have brought into you and freed from its chains.
Follow this step with one of the best forms of emotional healing diary. Writing can be a very therapeutic experience of self-discovery, reconnecting with our true self and processing the deepest feelings and emotions.
When we write we give a voice to our inner world. We process and make sense of what is happening inside us and around us. And we get a perspective; writing about our fears and our pains we can watch them from a distance, detach ourselves from their grip and eventually let them go. That version can be truly healthy.
Practice journaling every day to improve the expression and processing of your feelings. Do not censor or judge yourself; leave everything, completely unfiltered. Over time, the diary will become a safe space for you, to free yourself, to unlock and move on.
We often do not have the time and space to process emotions right now, so make sure you give yourself the space to experience the emotions you had during the day and the diary about it at the end of each day.
What's happening in your life right now that you wish you could change? What is the biggest source of frustration? While writing, note the sensations in your body. Tune to numb, aching or frozen parts. What are they trying to tell you? What needs healing, attention or change?
Step 3: recovery (self-care)
If we have habitually neglected our bodies and ignored our emotions, we must re-dedicate ourselves to the care of the mind of the body and indulge in habits of healing that will lead to the feeling of well-being.
The goal is to realign with your authentic self, restore the relaxed and open state, and return to well-being and balance.
Take time to slow down and stay alone, go out into nature, do art, listen to music while you cook your favorite dinner, meditate to cleanse your mind and relax your body, take a bubble bath or nap to restore. Take care of yourself to awaken the joy of life and the simple pleasures that will nourish your body, mind and soul.
My Own Healing Journey
When I decided to take charge of my recovery, I had no idea where to start. A book throughout hot life, I quickly discovered that writing was therapeutic. It has become my refuge, a place where I could connect with my inner world in an authentic way. Writing has become my most reliable way of processing emotions that I did not even know I had hosted since childhood. I discovered shame, anger, fear, pain, and finally self-pity.
With awareness, I learned to bring out my pain, even if only for a short time, then surround it with tender love and care. My pain was a part of me and I had finished running away from it; it was time for me to face it.
I learned to perceive in my body, little by little, as the anxiety of reconnecting with my physical sensations was very powerful. But I realized that the only way out was through the body, so to move the blocked emotions that held me tight for decades I had to allow and accept them, I had to feel the anger, the shame, the ache.
Slowly, I learned to give my inner child the support he never received. I listened to and validated his pain and helped to let him go. I learned to love and accept it. And in the end I learned to love and accept myself.
Healing is a process of taxation. Remember to give yourself all the care and compassion you would give to a friend who does this hard work. Offer understanding, love and care. This is hard work, and you're doing the best you can with what you have.
Trapped emotions hinder us. Sabotage our efforts to create the life we want and make us unhappy along the way. Freeing this emotional energy blocked in our bodies can move our lives in a positive way. He is a healer and liberator. And you're worth it!