Last time, we talked about emotional baggage and the feelings that we carry with us long after the event that triggered them took place. Many of us are taught to keep a stiff upper lip and soldier on, burying our pain within us. This repressed negative emotional energy can manifest itself in a number of ways—stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue, anger, resentment, and self-sabotaging behavior.
So, what can you do when you have trapped negative feelings inside? Let them out:
- Own up to your feelings. First, you must identify how you’re feeling so you can acknowledge your emotions. You can’t begin to repair your mental health until you understand what the emotions are that are causing you pain.
- Identify your pain. Typically, there are hurts that remain long past the time they were inflicted. These past traumas often took their roots in childhood. If you were abused in any way—mentally, physically, or sexually—you can be scarred for a long time. Neglect is another form of abuse that can stay with you. Also, if you lost a loved one at a young age through death or separation, especially if that person was a parent or caregiver, you may feel abandoned and have a deep sense of loss. If you were bullied, it can be a humiliating, soul-crushing experience, the kind that doesn’t easily leave you. And certainly, if you survived a dysfunctional childhood home, it can be traumatic. These are just some of the causes of past trauma. You need to identify what hurts you endured before you can heal.
- Understand what behaviors resulted from your pain. Unresolved childhood trauma can manifest itself in many ways. Perhaps you suffer from depression. Maybe you are overly solicitous to the point of pleasing other people at the risk of your own well-being. Maybe you blame yourself too much or the opposite—always casting the blame on others. Maybe you have withdrawn from the world in the mistaken belief that isolating yourself from others will save you from being hurt. When you understand what the crux of your pain is, then you can allow yourself to feel that pain and grieve for the fact that it happened to you. When you feel that grief you can begin to work through the trauma.
- Make the mind-body connection. Often, it’s useful to address unprocessed emotion and tension through physical movement. Intentional movement helps you feel safe within your own skin and master of your body. When you practice a mind-body connection through movement you can relieve tension. Yoga, dancing, martial arts, qi gong, tai chi, mediative walking, breathing exercises, stretching—these are ways to harness movement to release negative energy and use your brain to help you understand how to relax.
- Be still in the moment. The opposite of movement is stillness. Sometimes just being quiet can nourish your soul and allow space for you to feel and process your emotions. Quiet meditation, breathing exercises, sitting still in a beautiful setting, listening to peaceful music, practicing muscle relaxation—one or a combination of these things can help you connect with your inner thoughts.
When you allow your emotions to come out and be fully processed, you can begin to heal.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact