How to Release Buried Emotions & Suppressed Feelings? {Video}

Via Ben Ralston
on Mar 7, 2012
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I’m taking questions related to healing, personal development, and spiritual growth.

This is my answer to a question sent me on my Facebook page. I hope you don’t get seasick watching it! The only time I could find lately to make the video was when I took my dog for a walk…

Any other questions? I’m aiming for a video (and a dog walk!) a day.

Please leave a comment, and share if it feels like it might be of value to someone else.

With love, Ben


Editor: Kate Bartolotta


About Ben Ralston

Ben Ralston has been practising personal development—necessity being the Mother of invention—since he was about six years old. He’s been teaching and sharing what he’s learnt along the way for a couple of decades. His main thing is Heart of Tribe retreats—whose very purpose is to help you fall back in love with life, no less. Leading these retreats alongside his woman Kara-Leah Grant—also an elephant journal writer (that’s how they met!)—they combine a deep well of lineage-based yoga teaching experience, with expertise in healing trauma and various other methods of personal development. Ben also works with clients one-on-one via Skype, writes, makes videos from time to time, and is passionate about parenting. He lives in an intentional, tribal community in the hills of Croatia, where you might find him gardening barefoot and talking to the rocks. Connect with Ben on Facebook or YouTube or check out his website for more info.


42 Responses to “How to Release Buried Emotions & Suppressed Feelings? {Video}”

  1. Thank you Ben… I'm a "freezer" and I needed so badly to hear this today. Your video arrived at just the right time. Thanks for the boost – your video just helped me break through something I've been stuck on for a very long time. <3

  2. Ben_Ralston says:

    Very happy to hear it Laura – thanks for letting me know.

  3. ValCarruthers says:

    Great walkin' with you, Ben 🙂

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Spirituality Homepage.

    Valerie Carruthers
    Please go and "Like" Elephant Spirituality on Facebook

  4. missbernklau says:

    Thank you for sharing, Ben! You have a gift in simplifying something as complicated as healing trauma and all the layers that go with it. I always love reading your thoughts on the subject, and I always learn something new that I can apply to my own life that helps me live more fully and without fear. Thank you!

  5. Ben_Ralston says:

    Anytime Val! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Ben_Ralston says:

    Thanks Miss, good to hear that it's working.

  7. Becky says:

    Sometimes a concept doesn't sink in after hearing it once. Sometimes it takes time, practice, and then hearing it again, so at some point, it really sinks in. Great to listen to you Ben. Definitely got seasick during the first 3 seconds. Had to listen. 🙂

  8. Monique Dillewaard says:

    Thanks Ben, very helpful for myself and to help others getting out of this freeze mode.
    Have a nice day Monique

  9. Ben_Ralston says:

    It's a pleasure Monique.

  10. Ben_Ralston says:

    From Facebook:
    Sonja Warren wow, that was amazing, it's so true! since I've been on my own again, I've decided to do an imaginary peeling back of layer upon layer of something ( before I watched your video) I couldn't name, to get back in touch with my innermost self; because the more I do this, the more I realize how beautiful and comforting my inner self really is…most of my adult life so far has been spent on being hung up on external things, not knowing why it was so unsatisfying; I never realized how close real happiness was until I started doing that :), as of right now it feels like there is no end to this, it's wonderful!
    14 hours ago · Unlike · 1

    Sonja Warren so here is a question for you Ben: when trauma happens to us, what is the best way to not even make it a 'layer' in the first place? cause at the time the situation may not allow us to express our immediate emotions and I have a feeling that this process of 'layering' is almost an automatic defense mechanism that could get 'away from us'…
    14 hours ago · Unlike · 1

    Ben Ralston Good question Sonja. I believe we first need to answer the question: why do we get 'locked in' to trauma in the first place, so that the layers need to arise. The answer to that is probably that there is unresolved ancestral trauma – meaning that our ancestors experienced trauma, and the survival instinct that helped them to survive it, without resolving it. So that the instinct stayed 'switched on'. That means that since then, we've been repeatedly re-enacting the same response (because of a subconscious association between Safety and Said Survival Instinct). So the answer to your question is this: heal ancestral trauma so that you're a) free from those old patterns completely, and b) in a higher state of consciousness than before. Sounds complex I guess – but it's not. Just heal the blockages and you automatically are free from them.
    14 hours ago · Like · 1

    Gretchen Waschke Sooooo… Here is my question, do we have to clearly identify the trauma itself? I know my heart is closed off & in protective mode (and had been for a LONG time – like since childhood) but I can't i.d. any particular reason why… I acknowledge the fear/struggle/maladaptive "stuff" and I work on keeping it in "check" but I want those blocks GONE.
    3 hours ago · Like

    Ben Ralston Hi Gretchen, great question, and the answer will surprise you (and make you happy)! NO – we don't need to identify the trauma. In fact, it's possible to heal all kinds of different traumas in one go without even talking about them 🙂
    2 hours ago · Like · 1

  11. Ben_Ralston says:

    And another comment that I'll keep anonymous:
    "Watched your walking video. As you went through the explanation and affirmation, I felt a release in my abdomen which caused me to take a breath! Release! Yes, all we ever do hear about is fight or flight! Keep doing what you do. Love that you are able to share your healing!"

  12. jianji says:

    Thank you.

  13. Beth Barron says:

    Really helpful and articulate wisdom… thank you…

  14. Ben_Ralston says:

    Thank you Beth.

  15. Joe Sparks says:

    Hi Ben, Good information! It is important to remember everyone is born with tremendous intellectual potential, natural zest, and lovingness, but that these qualiites have become blocked and obscured in most adults, not just traumatized adults, as the result of accumulated distress experiences ( fear, hurt, loss, pain, anger, embarrassment, etc.) which begin early in our lives. Any young person would recover from such trauma spontaneously by use of the natural process of emotional release ( crying, trembling, raging, laughing, etc.). However, this natural process is usually interfered with by well-meaning people ( "Don't cry," "Be a big boy," etc.) who mistakingly equate the emotional release( the healing of the hurt) with th hurt itself.

  16. Joe Sparks says:

    When adequate emotional release can take place, the person is freed from the rigid pattern of behavior and feeling left by the hurt. The basic loving zestful nature is then free to operate. Such a person will tend to be more effective in looking out for his or her own interests and the interests of others, and will be more capable of acting successfully against injustice. Everyone is trained to surpress their feelings. We can learn how to help each other free ourselves from the effects of past distress experiences. It just takes to people, taking turns, listening to each other.

  17. Louise Brooks says:

    That is the same question I had – do we need to know what the trauma(s) is to heal? So… do I go about this? I'm really physically hurting and it is just getting worse and worse.

  18. Ben_Ralston says:

    email me Louise.

  19. Jane C says:

    Ben, as I sit here & see the morning newspaper, I wonder why your message isn't written on the front page of every news? Thank you, your words are beautifully said, simple and so true.
    Sending healing thoughts to the world… Jane

  20. Ben_Ralston says:

    I also wonder that Jane. That's why I'm doing my best to spread the word as widely as I can. Thank you for your words too… with love, Ben

  21. Ben_Ralston says:

    Thank you too 🙂

  22. Ben_Ralston says:

    Hi Joe, thanks for a very interesting comment. I'm not sure I agree with the "Any young person would recover from such trauma spontaneously by use of the natural process of emotional release"… you might be absolutely right, but I've wondered if the development of the neo-cortex and associated Ego do not also have a part in it. Could simply be that as mankind's Ego developed, the collective consciousness of "don't cry" etc created the blockage. But it could also be that individually, people lost the ability to complete trauma. Don't know.
    Also, the distress and other 'stuff' you talk about – I just call it all trauma 🙂

  23. Ben_Ralston says:

    And the second part of your comment I totally agree. I would just re-iterate the importance of instincts. Emotional release is usually not enough – we need to let go of the subconscious association between what kept us safe, and safety itself. Ie – Freezing, and safety.
    With love, Ben

  24. Joe Sparks says:

    Hi Ben, I think at one time in our evolutionary history, not crying had major survival value, a good skill set, if you are prey to large carnivorous animals. This pattern of behavior obviously has been past down through the generations and has been accepted as normal. However, if you think about it, In our current societies it is not really neccessary to hold back feelings. What would happen if a baby was allowed to cry to completion ?" Most of us whether cruelly or kindly have had our feelings surpressed by well-meaning adults. When you are in a constant state of worry, it is hard to be relaxed and pleased with being in the world. Hard to quiet the mind when the feelings are not being expressed.

  25. Ben_Ralston says:

    Hi Joe,

    I do agree with what you're saying – feeling-suppression causes all kinds of problems, and allowing the feelings out is a major goal for many people. However, there is certainly something more problematic, and that is that we have lost the ability to complete trauma. In my practice, I find that working with clients directly on emotion is a long, difficult process, but when I help a client to complete trauma (fast and easy) emotional expression – including forgiveness – comes very quickly. It's as if the trauma is holding everything else in place.
    This is my experience, and it's very much based on / explained by the Triune Brain Theory.

    Ben Ralston

  26. Joe Sparks says:

    Hi Ben, I think you are very smart! You have figured out alot and I appreciate what you have shared. You have helped lots of people. The Elephant is better because of humans like you! I think we are on the same page, but little different perspectives. I have tested these ideas about emotions and it works! This also reminds me about 10 years ago I started running barefoot and with minimilist running shoes after having knee surgery and in the process discovered Pose Running developed by Dr. Romanov in the 1970's. It is intereting the running communities have slowly, kicking and screaming, have started come full circle with running, the way nature intended, on the ball of the foot, not heel. I work with lots of runners and re-train their running gait, until it becomes natural. Change is slow and it is only because, It is a people driven market now. Big cushioned running shoes are going extinct. Kids run natural, we teach them the wrong way! We messed them up, glad it is changing for them as well!

  27. Joe Sparks says:

    Now we are slowly realizing the importance of feelings. Almost all humans who are born have a back log of surpressed emotions. If we start building communities of listening partnerships we can heal from these past hurts. There is not enough of Ben's to go around. We need each other, now more than ever!. Healing from trauma could be resolved completely,if we really slow down and listen. We need to listen to our children from the moment they are born, and allow them to heal themselves by showing/ releasing their feelings, we can start to heal the planet if we do not interfer with the natural healing processes. This is where I think the next evolutionary leap will take place in human consciousness.

  28. Ben_Ralston says:

    "This is where I think the next evolutionary leap will take place in human consciousness."
    Absolutely agree – it's happening 🙂

    And cool about the running – I used to love running but have a broken (totally) ligament in my ankle, and my running days, I've been told, are over. Hope to prove that wrong, but for now I have to take it very slow.

    Thanks for the discussion Joe.

  29. Samira says:

    Thank you so much Ben! So relevant to the conversation I had today with a young person.

  30. Ben_Ralston says:

    Thank you Samira.

  31. Atalwin says:

    Damn, the video got stuck at 4.23 and I am stuck so I need to hear what you have to say! I got dumped today and I feel heartbroken!

    It was nice to see the face and hear the voice that's behind the messages I have been receiving. Thank you for your existence, my fellow Warrior Brother.

    On a practical note: if you are filming this with your phone, try keeping the phone horizontal. I got this advice from a video professional. It will create a more natural frame. 🙂

  32. […] any time you believe another person has something you do not, whenever you hope that the cause of or solution to your problems lies outside yourself, you are handing over your power. You are relinquishing your responsibility […]

  33. […] everything you ever do is selfish (at least to some degree). But genuine personal development, profound healing, and grounded spiritual practice are the only activities that can make a significant difference in […]

  34. […] for my perpetual absence, a reflection of my own inner absence, my inability to connect from a heart jammed tight by unresolved emotions that I did not have the tools to work through. I still lack many of these tools, but I am open to […]

  35. […] for my perpetual absence, a reflection of my own inner absence, my inability to connect from a heart jammed tight by unresolved emotions that I did not have the tools to work through. I still lack many of these tools, but I am open to […]

  36. […] Subconscious blockages have no substance. They are not permanent, and therefore not real. They are like emotions, thoughts, feelings – they can be experienced, but they do not define you. They are not you. They seem real – but they are not. […]

  37. James says:

    Thank you, Ben! Very helpful advice.
    In addition, the combination of your voice and your footsteps on the Earth is very soothing. Made for a great meditation!

  38. Ben_Ralston says:

    Thanks James. Here's a new one you might like:

  39. Joanna says:

    I just found this video tonight and I wish I'd seen it earlier. I didn't realise I had locked away my emotions all this time from fear but actually it makes sense now. I went through a very traumatic relationship end and instead of acknowledging that it was awful, I just thought, 'Whatever.' I didn't feel that way though and in the last few years since I've been completely emotionally frozen and numb, just like you have described. In fact, after it ended I felt like I needed to learn a few lessons about life, so I took a vow of abstinence for one year to 'clear my head.' That one year turned into 4 years, sadly, but more troublingly, I've been telling myself that I don't care about that stuff anymore, I can just be alone, I've got better things to do. I've been punishing myself without acknowledging my extreme fear (no wonder my eyes well up slightly whenever I think of my heart!) Anyway, this video has been a major revelation for me, so thanks for making it.

  40. Stephen says:

    Ben HI I have a question. How do you heal secondary gain. Thanks Stephen