Think about each time you swallow a lump in your throat, swallow the words that are on the tip of your tongue in anger, or inhale deeply to keep from expressing frustration.
Where do you think those negative emotions go? It would be nice if they just disappeared but they don’t. They actually get stuck in our bodies.
However, we swallow, stuff, and stifle many of the uncomfortable emotions we feel because it’s either not the right time to express them or, perhaps we don’t even want to feel them. This was the case for me for much of my adult life – I spent years holding back tears of anger and frustration, which were my swallowed lumps. What I discovered was that these emotions lodged themselves in my body in various forms – mostly as chronic aches and pains or repetitive illnesses. I also discovered that many of the repetitive swallowed lumps, stifled cries, and stuffed away anger represented themes in my life- areas where I was doing things to please others or for others’ approval while ignoring my own needs and desires. The emotions I felt, but stuffed away, were actually the cries of my inner self, trying to let me know that something was off; however, I ignored them. It was easier to shift my attention elsewhere than deal with feeling angry, sad, or frustrated, right? Maybe not.
As I said, emotions are energy in motion so they need to move. Think about when you feel joyful or are rooting for your favorite sport’s team or feel proud of your child – you move your body in various ways to express those emotions. You smile, laugh, dance, jump up and down, clap your hands, or open your arms in pride and joy. You are moving those positive emotions and expressing them. It’s very natural for us to do this when we feel good. And, the same needs to be done for negative emotions. Even though it might not be as natural or as accepted in our society, it’s still vitally important to our physical, mental, and emotional health. The way we release these emotions from our body is to allow them to move. So how exactly do you do this?
First, acknowledge that you are feeling the negative emotion – whatever it is.
When you feel sad or angry or frustrated, name the feeling. You don’t have to say it aloud. Just silently notice. Don’t judge what you’re feeling. It’s a feeling. It isn’t right or wrong until you label it as such. Simply acknowledge the emotion without judgment.
Second, let yourself feel it.
Where do you feel the emotion? Heart? Stomach? Face? Feel it. Describe it to yourself. Is it hot? Tight? Tingly? Clenched? Heavy? Now, let it move through you. Often times this means you will need to cry. Or, if it’s anger, you might need to get up and walk, run, move your arms, use a punching bag, or whatever your body indicates it needs to do to allow that emotion to be expressed. I know what you’re thinking: “But what if I’m in public and I can’t do this?” Then put it on hold and find a later time and place to express the emotion. Perhaps by the time you get to a place where you can cry or punch the punching bag, the feeling of anger or sadness will be gone. Yes, the emotional feeling of that past moment is gone but it doesn’t “go” anywhere but into your body, until you allow it to move out of your body. I know this because for both myself and many of my clients what tends to happen is the emotions build up over time and then you might suddenly find yourself in a situation where you cannot keep it inside anymore. Often this is what causes people to have fits of rage or temper tantrums. I remember when my dad passed away I’d been through such a difficult year of watching him get sick and pass along, all while watching one of my dogs go down the same path I was unable to swallow anymore lumps in my throat. They needed to come out. Whether I wanted them to or not, my body had reached its limit. This was due to many years of unexpressed swallowed lumps in my throat.
So, even though you may not feel the same emotion when you have the time to express it, you still want to create space for it to be expressed. Even if it’s the next time you go for a walk or a hike or go to workout, simply set the intention that during that time of movement you’re going to release any blocked negative emotions that may be stored in your body. And, your body will know what to do. You might be amazed at the things that start to move through you. One of my clients loved dance so after a frustrating week of work, when she couldn’t even remember all the things that frustrated her, she would put on “rage dance” music with the intention of “dancing out” all the negative emotions stored in her body that week. As she’d do this, flashes of her week would appear in her mind’s eye and she’d dance them out of her. She always felt rejuvenated and lighter after taking the time to dance away her anger.
Once you allow the emotions to move through your body without judging them, they stop plaguing your mind. When they are stuck in our bodies, you tend to replay them in your mind. They can keep you up at night with thoughts of “I can’t believe he talked to me that way.” Or, “I’m so worried about my sick dog and afraid something is seriously wrong with him.” Or, “My boss is impossible to deal with and doesn’t respect my time or contribution.” Behind each of those thoughts are emotions: disappointment, fear, anger, frustration, etc. And each of those emotions contains energy that needs to move.
Once you allow it to move through your body, you begin to release it from your mind and heart. If you’re anything like me, you’ve carried some emotions in your body for a long time without even realizing it. These may need more than one or two rage dance sessions, punching bag outings, or crying fits to get out of your body so be patient with yourself. Know that each time you acknowledge an emotion without judgment and allow it to move through your body, you are releasing its grip on both your body and your mind.
The challenge of releasing negative emotions is so common that InPower Coaching has developed a special tool just to help you build on Andria’s advice and release those deep-seated emotional triggers that never seem to go away. Learn more about this powerful tool at the core of all InPower Coaching programs.