Emotions are designed by nature to be fleeting. They are meant to rise to the surface of our bodies to be felt, acknowledged, and released, once and for all. Emotion just wants to be recognized. Biologically, emotion is meant to prompt us for action, give us important information about our surroundings, motivate us and help us communicate to others. However, most of us have learned to ignore this internal guidance system and avoid ‘negative’ emotions all together. We have learned to unconsciously shut down our body’s internal processing system when we start to feel any signs of vulnerability, fear, or rejection. We stop our bodies from allowing these natural emotions to rise up and convey their message. We do this when we overuse television, social media, alcohol/drugs, or partake in any addictive behaviour. Another common way we avoid emotion is by distracting ourselves with meaningless activities. Shopping and amassing material goods are the most common ways we distract ourselves in first world countries. Although denying emotion is prevalent in our world today, we can’t ignore the substantial consequences we incur from doing so.
When we deny ourselves the ability to feel unpleasant emotions, they don’t just go away because we haven’t payed attention to them. We actually end up holding these emotions in the cells of our bodies, because they were not able to run their biological course. The body will store any emotion that is not acknowledged, as a way of preserving it, so it can fulfill its function at a later time. But emotion is not designed to be stored in the body. The very act of pushing away emotion causes our bodies, and minds, to weaken. Our bodies can and will slip into illness and disease because of this. Anger, depression, anxiety, sadness, and shame are a few common emotions we tend to push down and carry with us. This is where the phrase ‘what you resist, persists’ comes into play. Not acknowledging these emotions encourages them to rise up over and over again, because they have not fulfilled their purpose yet. Remember-biologically, they are supplying us with information. So when these same emotions persist, we must realize we can’t stop them from rising up. These emotions will continue to gain power (and presence in our bodies) until we process them. But ultimately, no matter how powerful they feel, they are simply emotions. They are not something to fear. We are capable of feeling them, even extreme emotions, without allowing them to hurt us. We must experience what they feel like in our bodies, interpret their message and then watch them vanish…for good. For this is the natural function of all emotion.
How To Release Unprocessed Emotion:
Step #1: Give Permission
In a quiet place where we won’t be distracted, get comfortable and take a few cleansing breaths. When it feels right, we can give our bodies permission to bring up any emotion necessary. A firm affirmation “It is safe to experience this emotion” sends a direct instruction to the mind and body, who are intimately connected.
Step #2: Scan The Body
Become an observer. Scan the body from head to toe. This scanning is less about DOING and more about AWARENESS. The body will talk to us if we are listening. Notice any place that our awareness is being drawn to. Does it feel different? Constricted? Hot or cold? Tingling or painful? It may be subtle or it may be loud. Pinpoint the area that we are feeling drawn to. (Our organs are common areas we store unprocessed emotion, i.e. the liver, heart, stomach, etc.)
Step #3: Feel The Emotion
Place our hands on the area of the body that we are noticing the most. Take a few long inhalations and exhalations. We will begin to feel the stored emotion. Breathe. Allow the emotion to rise. We may begin to feel very uncomfortable. This feeling has caused us to shut down in the past, so we may experience fear at this point. Try to observe it and release any thoughts that arise from the fear. We are practicing allowing the feeling to be there. Accept it and lean further into it. Sadness, anger, regret, fear, humiliation, or any number of emotions may rise up. Follow our body’s lead; we may want to cry, stretch, scream, or move in a certain position. Witness the body, accept the feeling, release any thoughts and lean into the emotion.
Step #4: Find The Origin
We now have the option to take this one step further. We may want to stop after Step #3 if we are feeling overwhelmed. If not, we can ask ourselves the question “What is this emotion related to?” The emotions we carry with us stem from unhealthy beliefs we hold. These beliefs may look like “I’m not good enough,” or “I’m unlovable,” or “I’m not safe.” Continue to remain quiet, breathe, and hold our hands on the feeling. We may begin to think of an event or time in our life that has caused us these emotions. Specific themes, situations, or people may come to mind. Recognize and contemplate these connections. If a limiting belief did come to mind, be sure to let it go. We can do this by stating something like “I am worthy” or “I am loved” or “I am safe.” We can use any statement that resonates with us.
Step #5: The Release
Whether we have discovered the origin of the emotion or not, it is now time to release it. Emotions want to be felt and acknowledged in order to be released, and we have done just that. Remember-no feeling is final. We can thank our bodies and our emotions for communicating with us. We can show love and gratitude to encourage our body to open up again in the future.
Discovering the limiting beliefs that are responsible for particular emotions is the quickest way to ensure the emotion is released permanently. If we have not discovered the origin of the emotion, it will likely rise again. But every time we practice these steps, it becomes easier for us to discover, process and eliminate these powerfully persistent emotions and limiting beliefs. We learn how to feel emotions as they arise, and most importantly, not carry them with us to drag us down and skew our perspectives. Ultimately, we will feel lighter, freer and happier for it.