”How to Release Emotions Stuck in Your Body and Let Go of the Pain”

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“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?

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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.

 

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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.

1. Anxiety

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.

2. Disgusted

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.

3. Grief-stricken

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.

4. Criticized

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.

5. Unsupported

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.

6. Unsafe

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.

7. Overwhelmed

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.

8. Worthless

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).

9. Helpless

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.

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”Things I Learned From My Mother – Be Yourself”

“Pain changes your life forever. But so does healing from it.” 

The hell of watching someone die isn’t just the actual dying part. It’s the years, months, weeks and days leading up to it.

It’s the pain of watching day by day the most important person in your life slip further and further away from you while there is nothing you can do to stop it.

You don’t lose this person in one moment. You lose them gradually throughout the whole time they are sick. As time goes on, they become less and less the person that they were before this illness took over.

I don’t know how to find even slightly pleasant words to describe what watching a parent die feels like. I don’t know how to even try to explain it without curse words and screaming.

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It’s absolutely terrifying. It’s gut-wrenching. It sends you through a whirlwind of feelings and emotions. You don’t even know who you are anymore. It takes over your life.

 

When You Grieve the Loss of Your Mom …

What I learned was my mom taught me everything by example. I became the confident, independent man I am from watching my mom. She set the precedent.

My mom taught me that I could be anything I wanted to be. She wanted me to succeed in everything I tried. She made it known that things were different when she was a young girl. She didn’t have all of the opportunities I had. It was important to her that I took full advantage of all that life had to offer me.

I learned so much from my mom. But the greatest things she ever taught me was to live. To follow my dreams. To be happy. And I am all of these things today because of her.

My mom’s most valuable life lessons were taught to me when she was dying. When you’re saying goodbye to your mom, it doesn’t matter who you are, how old you are, or how much money you have. It just sucks. But even through death, my mom continues to teach me new things.

Having to say goodbye to my mom was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. There are no words, yet you have to say something. I don’t even remember what I said. And now, it just doesn’t matter. Because now I realize that nothing had to be said.

My mom was diagnosed with kidney failure when she was forty-one years old. Now that I am twenty-six, I realize how young forty-one is. Every day I think, a little over fifteen years from now and I’ll be the age my mom was when she was given a death sentence. It scares the hell out of me.

I am also haunted by the fact of how hard it must have been on my mom. She knew she was going to die. She knew she was leaving the love of her life behind and abandoning her three kids.  I know that has to be what it feels like to say goodbye to your kids. No matter how old they are.

I remember going to the hospital and the nurse pulling us aside to tell us our mom was crying all night. I was shocked. I don’t know why. I just never stopped to think that my mom was scared. She was always my rock. She took care of all of us, always. She never felt sorry for herself and she was always so strong.

Knowing my mom had kidney-failure was one thing. Knowing my mom was scared was quite another.

My mom lingered on for many months. She was seen by many specialists at many hospitals. For a while there, we had hope. But then a last-ditch-effort trip to another world renown hospital would end all the hope and speculation. Now the goal would be to make her comfortable. To pray for peace.

Hospice came and set up shop in our family room. This was our new reality. We had visitors in and out every single day. Our lives were shattering, yet the outside world kept spinning.

Thankfully my mom didn’t suffer long. The end came fast. So fast we couldn’t all be there.  My cousins woke me up and said to come home by next flight. A nurse was taking my mom’s pulse and said it would be soon. Sometime in the next few hours, was her guess.

My mom died an hour later. With just my dad and my brother there. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even know what was happening. I sat next to her for a while after she was gone. Staring at her. Willing for her to wake up. She didn’t.

A few minutes later, her friends arrived. My dad met them on the front porch as I stayed with my mom. I could hear them wailing. It was unbearable. They came inside and said their goodbyes.

My uncle and brothers made it home soon thereafter. My brothers were heartbroken that they were not there when our mom died. I was haunted that I had been there. It turns out our final good-byes did not matter. It was the life we had all shared together that did. And that could never be taken away from us.

 

Now we had to face the cruel reality that life, does indeed, go on. Without our mom. Like it or not. But we had each other and everything that our mom had instilled in us. And that’s how life went on. And continues to go on. Every damn day.

Saying goodbye is never easy. But it’s impossible to say goodbye to someone who is always going to be part of you.

”The Art of Pain: Why the Dark Times Make Life Beautiful”

giphy“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”

There is not one person who will avoid some sort of struggle or hardship in life. In fact, there are things that happen in life that often shake us to our very core.

The essential nature of being alive and being human is to experience life in its purest form — the wins and losses, celebrations and challenges, and the good with the bad.

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Some of these experiences are not favorable. We might be in pain, physically or emotionally — we hurt. Often we feel betrayed by life itself, we feel it is unfair and questions why we have to go through these struggles.

What we don’t realize is that these struggles are a gift from life itself. When we come face to face with a struggle, a low point in life, be it an illness, a relationship breakdown or financial ruin, at the time we are lost in darkness.

I know what it is like to be lost in the abyss of darkness with no slither of hope of any light shining through.

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You can’t see your way out of it, let alone focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. Some refer to this as the “dark night of the soul” — I call it the emergence of the soul. It is in this place that your soul speaks to you and you begin to realize that you are not your circumstances, but something far greater.

Everything you are going through, every struggle, pain or hardship, is actually a gift. It is a gift because it is in the struggle that you are brought to your knees, where you question the purpose of your life. It is a gift because it asks you to go deeper into yourself and find the gold of who you are.

The common saying “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” has a very profound truth to it. What you overcome in life makes you richer in every way. When you are in that dark place looking for a way out of your hardship, you are faced with two choices: give up or tap into the inner resources that you didn’t even know you had, and come through it stronger and more humble than you were before.

Life never hands out things that you can’t handle. How you approach it will determine how you come through the other side. You can assume the victim role and feel sorry for yourself, or you can reach into the essence of who you are and find your inner strength. Then demand the self-worth and ability to rise up and meet your challenges heart on. You need to believe you can do this — you are powerful, you are amazing and you are inspirational!

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I am sure you have heard many stories of people saying that they feel blessed to have gone through their hardship as this defines who they are today. This is not something that people just say, this is something they know.

Through darkness comes light, through fear comes love and through pain comes triumph.
This is the triumph of the human spirit; it is not in a select few, it is in every one of us.

Your struggles and hardships are your gifts so that you can reach deep down inside of yourself and discover your inner power and the glory of who you are. Use them to share your message of hope and love with the world.

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The world needs your voice, your message, and your experiences so that they can resonate in the hearts of others and give hope and courage to show that it is possible to overcome anything.

Let us share our gifts with each other as we will be far richer for the experience