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May 5, 2021

How to Heal from Emotional Pain.

 

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Anyone who claims they’ve never been deeply hurt or had any fears is lying to you (and themselves). 

No one, and I mean no one, gets through life without experiencing both. It is part of the human condition, and it’s not going away anytime soon.

We are hardwired to feel fear which was originally essential for our very existence. Back in the caveman days, you could turn a corner and be faced with a man-eating dinosaur. Your brain would sum up the situation and trigger one of two reactions. You either fought the dinosaur or tried to outrun it.

It was a straightforward, concise system that worked for millions of years. The problem is it no longer works in modern-day society. We have become the top predator in the food chain and no longer worry about being eaten by a much larger aggressive beast.

Now the “predator” in early childhood is our parents or perhaps another adult. And under extreme conditions of emotional abuse, abandonment, or trauma, we resort back to the same fight-or-flight, self-protective state.

Once in a therapist’s office as an adult, the therapist asked me to go back to the age of seven. When I did, as I was sitting there in her office, my feet started going up and down as if I were trying to run. I told her that I was hiding in a closet and was scared. 

If anyone in our pasts were emotionally or verbally abusive, hiding in a closet makes sense for a child. 

She asked me why my feet were moving, and I said I wanted to run and get away. She reminded me that I was safe, but I still couldn’t stop moving my legs. This is a perfect example of a fight-or-flight response.

As we get older and experience life, we all make wrong choices, feel disappointment in others, ourselves, and experience emotional pain, including heartbreak. Those of us who didn’t get the proper mirroring from our parents and the permission to express our feelings had no choice but to suppress them. The question is: if we couldn’t talk about them, felt afraid to feel them because we were told they were not important or valid, where did they go?

They got pushed down and stored in our bodies. If we start doing this in early childhood, the odds are we will continue to do so throughout our adult life. With time, these stored emotions become trapped in certain parts of our bodies and physically affect us.

For example, I have lower back pain that started in my 30s. I had undergone every test known to modern medicine with no concrete diagnosis. By my 40s, I developed arthritis in the same area. Since childhood, I have stored all my pain from abandonment issues in my lower back. This is where the root chakra is located, the energy center for our feelings of stability and security. This makes complete sense since I felt neither in my childhood.

Many health issues can be tied to stored emotions. I was diagnosed with a thyroid condition in my early 30s. This is not surprising for people who weren’t allowed to express themselves vocally as a child. Someone who was raised to be seen and not heard; someone who, if they were upset or crying, was told to stop and “go to your room.” The thyroid gland is located near the throat chakra, and hence the connection between a suppressed voice developed into hypothyroidism.

The practice of meditation is becoming mainstream today, and, thankfully, more and more people are turning inward for stillness and answers. The practice of grounding during meditation is to connect with the earth and be more present in our bodies. For anyone who has experienced early childhood trauma, this is difficult. Our souls tend to be just outside of our bodies because we feel safer there. It’s like stepping out of the place that is getting hurt or has the wounds that we don’t want to feel.

There are several techniques for grounding. The one I use is to imagine a cord coming from my root chakra or lower back. While sitting or lying down, imagine that cord going down into the ground. At first, this may be very scary, and you might not be able to hold the cord in the ground but for a few seconds. That is fine. This is a process that, like most, requires practice. Trust me, with practice. You will be able to hold it there longer and longer. And eventually, you will be able to have it go deeper and deeper.

Once you get comfortable grounding while meditating, move your intention into your body. You can do a complete body scan starting at the top of your head or your toes and slowly move your focus and see what comes up. You might feel a tightness in a specific area, a feeling in your gut, or your breathing might become labored. All of these symptoms are normal and could indicate stored emotions.

After doing this several times, try to stay in that area and ride out the feeling. It will get stronger initially but stay with it. It will subside. You do not need to ask or know what caused this pain or fear. All that matters is that you acknowledge it. This might take several times of concentrating on the same area with waves of pain coming up, but they will subside. The pain cannot hurt you. Feel free to say that again and again in your head. 

By acknowledging the emotions, you are releasing them. You should feel lighter and calmer. You are healing yourself and releasing what should have been a long time ago.

There are many different ways to heal. Storing the emotions that we no longer deserve or want can prevent us from fully loving and accepting ourselves. We are all made up of light and dark. By acknowledging the dark part of ourselves, we release it allowing more light to come in—what a beautiful gift to give ourselves.

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