“Whenever something bad happens, keep calm, take a few deep breaths and shift the focus to something positive.”
Someone crushed my heart pretty badly. It was one of those breakups you don’t see coming, the kind of heartbreak you never thought could happen to you. But it happened to me, and I lost myself for a while. I was in so much pain, I wanted nothing more than to get rid of it. So I did.
But the only way to heal emotional pain quickly is by running away from it. And I knew that wasn’t something I could do. One of the main messages in my breathwork teaching is to feel everything—even when it’s excruciating.
But I was so TIRED of feeling the pain. I just wanted it to disappear. We’re wired to run from pain. We want to get as far away from it as possible, whether that means pushing it away or finding a way to go numb. The problem with those approaches is that they create bigger problems, in the form of disease, anxiety, and emotional stagnation.
If you’re someone who wants to live a deeply fulfilling life, you have to learn to face your pain. I know it doesn’t sound appealing, but ignoring your pain will only make it worse over time. Only by staring it right in the face, and really dealing with it, can you find the richness, beauty, and joy that comes with true freedom. Which do you want for your life?
Why Do Emotions Get Stuck In the Body?
Any emotional energy that we don’t fully experience and process, can get trapped in the body.
When we talk ourselves out of feeling how we really do
How many times have you told yourself it is “ridiculous to get upset over this!” or “not worth upsetting dad” to bring up. Those types of situations cause you to be at risk for trapping emotions. Emotions want a “voice” and if they are not acknowledged, they won’t go away.
When we are isolated at the time of the event
When we are isolated while dealing with a stressful event, we are at risk for trapped emotions. I believe this is because it is human nature to find comfort in the sharing of our emotions — positive and negative. When we can’t reach out, we may be less likely to really feel them and experience them. It often feels safer to let go emotionally with someone else.
When we have never experienced something similar before
Not having any coping skills for the specific event that’s bringing up negative emotions can really leave us “stuck.” If it’s the first time you are experience something, a death of a loved one for instance, you are more likely to “freeze” emotionally than you would be if you had coping skills for the situation. You would be more likely to have coping skills if you learned them during an earlier similar life event.
The Top Most Commonly Stuck Emotions
The top emotions on my list are the ones I see most often, in most people. Now, remember, these are just the ones that I commonly find to be lodged in the body. Certain events or years of your life can create different types of emotions, and even multiples of the same ones. These are just a general list of what comes up most during my sessions with clients, and for myself! Also keep in mind, they don’t all have to get stuck! Negative emotions aren’t bad. They can only harm if you don’t let them go.
While this is a commonly described “emotion,” my experience is that there is other, suppressed emotion under it creating a feeling of anxiousness. It’s best to find what is making you feel anxious instead of using the catch-all of “anxiety” to describe what you’re experiencing.
A feeling of loathing; when good taste or moral sense is offended; a strong aversion. Disgust is a feeling that is low enough on the radar to not say anything about. It’s not like anger where you can lose your temper and it comes bellowing out. Disgust is more of an internal ruminating that one often keeps to themselves and festers over.
Intense emotional suffering caused by loss, disaster, misfortune, etc.; an acute sorrow and deep sadness. A universal reaction to bereavement. Also can be feeling harassed, vexed or exasperated
Grief is something that we don’t often “have time for.” There are so many things humans have the tendency to grieve over. We often need to grieve over the loss of something we never attain (a job, for example), our expectations (the actions of a friend who doesn’t meet them) and many many other things. It’s easily overlooked because we don’t see things as important enough to take the time to say “we’re really feeling that loss,” unless it’s something we think is big enough like the death of a loved one.
Criticized includes being criticized by others and also negative self-talk (e.g. “Iʼm such an idiot”), blaming the self, etc. Illnesses can be forms of self-abuse (e.g., “I don’t deserve to be healed.”)
We are masters at this! This one becomes easily stuck because we do it so often to ourselves and we are usually the last people we will give a break to. Many people are willing to forgive others more easily than themselves. In addition, many people think this is a helpful behavior/emotion because it keeps them motivated and so on.
A lack of support, help or encouragement; not provided for by another; not defended when help is needed; feeling the burden is too heavy to bear alone. This one goes back to being isolated. Feeling unsupported is scary and makes us feel like we have nowhere to turn. When we have nowhere to turn, we don’t know what to do. And when that happens, we usually find a distraction and don’t really work through the feelings and let them go.
Feeling “unsafe” in the world is one of the energies that affect us most as far as our overall wellbeing. This can be feeling unsafe physically or emotionally. Feeling unsafe in the world leads to an overactive “fight, flight, or freeze” (stress) response in the body, which can create a host of emotional and physical challenges.
To be overpowered in mind or emotion; extreme stress; feeling overpowered with superior force; feeling excessively burdened. This is often self-inflicted. We live in a society where we never feel we’re doing enough, fast enough, good enough. So, we take on more. And then we get overwhelmed. Also, we can tend to be overwhelmed with emotion and if we don’t want to feel that, we can bury it and it can become trapped.
Of no importance or value; without excellence of character, quality or esteem; serving no purpose. So many of us have given other people permission to define our worth. We are so caught in a pattern of this that we just hang on to how we didn’t live up to someone’s expectations, or that they thought “x, y or z” about us. We hold tight to those perceptions and are scared to let go of them, sometimes because we don’t really know who we are; and sometimes because other people’s perceptions of us serve us (let us “off the hook” for things we don’t want to do, for example).
Helplessness is the sensation or perception that there is nothing one can do to fix, repair, or improve a situation. This feeling is a huge fear trigger which affects the mind and body greatly.
Feeling helpless in life is so common. And, such a scary feeling. But, we often don’t know how to get out of it. We don’t take the time to change our beliefs about “nothing will make a difference,” “it’s not worth it,” and “I don’t matter.” Changing long-held beliefs is a great way to reverse feelings of helplessness.