Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways. ~Sigmund Freud
Walking away from your feelings won’t prevent them from catching up with you. ~Tina Donovan
Like many bloggers, I will check the keywords that people use to find my posts. Mostly I do it out of curiosity and sometimes amusement, though occasionally a search term can be provocative. One such recent search was on “eliminating emotions.” I laughed that Google took someone to my site in search of that answer since my work is very much about dealing with emotions rather than repressing or eliminating them.
In short, it is not possible to eliminate emotions even though that concept might seem incredibly convenient. We are all born with a mind, body, and spirit connection. All aspects of us are integrally linked, and there is no way to separate them.
We store our emotions in our body. In recent years, organ transplants have become more common and have helped give us a very clear example of stored emotions. Many of us have heard stories where recipients of organ donations might suddenly find themselves loving baseball when they previously hated sports or craving fried chicken when they were previously a vegan. This results from the stored emotions of the organ donors. When the recipients eventually meet the donors’ families, they usually find that their new likes and dislikes are the same as the donors'.
We especially store emotions in times of trauma when we can’t or won’t face them. I once attended a spiritually oriented Meetup where a man proudly announced that emotions weren’t an issue for him. He declared that he just stored his emotions in a box and shoved them away. There was a palpable emotional cringe in the room when he made this pronouncement as so many of the other attendees recognized how unhealthy this man’s solution to emotions actually was. When we store emotions in a metaphorical box, we are actually shoving them into our body. There, the emotions fester until eventually they erupt into pain. In some cases, that pain is actually part of a disease. As Gabor Maté explains in When the Body Says No: The Hidden Cost of Stress,
Habitual repression of emotions leaves a person in a state of chronic stress, and chronic stress creates an unnatural biochemical milieu in the body… Disease, in other words, is not a simple result of some external attack but develops in a vulnerable host in whom the internal environment has become disordered.
How these emotions manifest as illness varies widely by the person’s genetics, situation, and spiritual resolve. There are multiple studies on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome demonstrating a much higher proportion of CFS patients have a history of childhood abuse. Unfortunately, the media and many health practitioners have misinterpreted that this means that sufferers of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome have simply made up their symptoms as part of a mental illness. However, CFS is definitely not at all “in one’s head.” CFS is a result of infections and an adrenal system that has been blown out by years of constant intense stress due to that long-lasting abuse.
Some who have studied the impact of emotions upon the body have found patterns in how emotions manifest into pain and illness. Heal Your Body by Louise Hay provides a list of the patterns she has seen over the years in how pain presents in many individuals. This website gives a summary of many of the symptoms and illnesses contained in the book. In my experience, I find that the book’s contents are often true or very close to the truth for most individuals. Heal Your Body is a great place to start in trying to determine what emotional and spiritual issues might lie behind your physical pain.
So what do we do about these stored emotions in our body that can cause us pain and illness? It’s important to clear those stored emotions. In my personal experience, I find pain relief when I process something that I’ve stored in my body. It frees me and leaves me happier in the long run. It can also decrease the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and general stress.
There are many ways to do clear stored emotions; the best way for one person may not be the best way for another. Talk therapy is a great way to start, but I’ve found that one usually needs to do something to actively involve the body with the psychotherapy process in order to clear those stored emotions. Emotional Freedom Technique, EMDR, massage, acupuncture, yoga, craniosacral therapy, and energy work (like I do for my clients) are all great ways to help relieve the stored and festering emotional pain in our bodies.
Emotions may seem pesky. In my own life, I’ve seen people around me who want to eliminate emotions. Whenever my ex-husband and I would have a fight, I would experience fibromyalgia flares that would last at least 24 hours. My ex-husband asked me to get my chiropractor to help me find a way to detach my emotions from my body so that I wouldn’t have to pay a physical price for our marital conflict. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way. Our bodies, our minds, and our spirits are intimately linked, and in order to fully heal, we must address all parts of ourselves as an integral unit.
© 2015 Green Heart Guidance