If you joined The 30 Day Love Explosion you may be thinking that it’s all rainbows and happy faces in my world. If so, you don’t know me. More acurately – you don’t know all of me.
Those who’ve worked with me privately, been on retreat, taken a class with me, or are part of my inner circle know that I’m an equal opportunity emoter. I think it’s a shame we deem some emotions as bad and others as good. From a young age we are coaxed, cajoled, and even coerced out of the bad emotions and into the good. A combination of bribery and threats is often applied. While this may be done by well-meaning guardians and friends who hate to see us sad or angry, we learn that it’s ok to have some emotions and not ok to have others. But since emotions come whether we want them or not, we’ve little else to do with the “unacceptable ones” but stuff them down.
We’re a culture that is uncomfortable with authentic feelings. We have a very narrow range of socially acceptable emotions. The rest are hidden away to make us all feel better. But I’ve got news for you: There is no such place as away. And hiding your emotions will not make you feel better.
As humans we’re meant to experience a wide range of emotions. Just watch a baby. It quickly moves through many emotions in a day. By allowing some and denying others you are not living as fully as you could be.
Emotions are meant to move through you and out of you. In fact the root of the word is from the French Emouvoir – to move. The last thing you want to do with emotions is hold them in. Because that place you stuff them into is your own body. Rather than allowing the few seconds that it takes to move emotions, you carry them inside for years. And since emotions are by their very nature, wanting to move, they are constantly looking for ways to escape. It takes a lot of energy to hold them in. You may not be conscious of this energy, but it is using up your life force. Think of emotions like a rushing river. They want to flow. By stuffing them down you’re like a dam holding back a wall of water. That’s a lot of pressure.
Since you can’t hold them in forever, those emotions you think you’re hiding from the world are leaking out from time to time. They may also be building up with such pressure that you explode when you least expect it.
So, what are we to do with the emotions we habitually shun?
Allow them – all of them. I’m not advocating for violence, raging at other living beings, or spewing your emotions whenever you want. There is a kinder way to release big emotions without anyone getting hurt.
Here’s a simple thing to try:
If you have a big reaction to something – rage, sadness, surprise, joy – get yourself into a private setting as quickly as you can. In that space where you won’t be disturbed let yourself follow your natural impulses and go wild. (as quick as you can may be minutes or days later)
Let’s say you feel rage. Grab a tennis racket, baseball bat, rolling pin – and bash the living daylights out of some pillows on your bed. As the “weapon” smashes the pillows make a noise. It can be helpful to yell something – NO, STOP, or a slew of expletives that you’d never say in public. All of this will ensure that you are breathing.
Hitting something like that may not be authentic for you in that moment. Notice your natural impulse. If someone made you angry you may find yourself for the quickest second feeling you’d like to punch them. Fantastic – go into a private place and punch pillows. Make sure you express to ensure you breathe. If you want to kick, do that, strangle someone – grab a towel and keep strangling it… until you notice another impulse bubble up. I love punching. I have boxing gloves so I won’t hurt my hands. And I’m a big fan of heavy bags for punching and kicking.
Big emotions don’t last long. About 90 seconds tops. When they are allowed to move they clear space and free up your energy. When you hold them in they zap your energy. They lead to moods that can linger, for hours, days or more: frustration, irritability, lethargy, anxiousness, worry….
I use this practice, and others like it myself, and I teach it to clients. What I offer varies with the clients’ needs. Often when a client is talking incessantly about an issue, obsessing about something they can’t change, or feeling stuck in their life, I’ll encourage this kind of movement of emotion. It’s often met with resistance, but my resolve for their freedom is usually stronger than their opposition, and they succumb reluctantly. Amazingly they always feel better after doing this. Something in them needed to move, and in honoring that need, they set themselves free.
While clients are cutting loose, their minds will often chime in with helpful thoughts like “This is ridiculous. This isn’t helping. I look like a fool. That’s enough. I’m tired.” So I keep encouraging them to go a bit beyond the point when they want to stop. That’s often where the magic is ~ Just beyond the point when you want to give up. So if you do this on your own you may want to set a timer and make yourself keep going until that time is up. Start with two minutes and see how you do.
Sometimes we experience the opposite. Clients get started and discover so much pent up emotion they fear it will never end. No wonder – with a life time of feelings stuffed down, it can feel like a bottomless pit. Know that with regular release it will move through you and free up space for more life force.
Of course there will always be more emotions every day that want to move, so this becomes a regular practice. And this isn’t just for anger or sadness. Use this to release your strangled joy as well.
I’d love to hear how you express your emotions and what it does for you.
If you care about someone who could benefit from this, please share it with them. We’ll all be more free when we express ourselves fully.