My mother, one of eight children, was born during the Great Depression – in a barn – on a farm – in the Midwest. Her stoic personality was shaped by nature and nurture. My understanding was that she got through tough times by focusing on what she needed to do by not getting too tied up in emotions.
I believe that I inherited this “attitude” from my mother not realizing how suppressed emotions can eventually wreak havoc on the body. And the deeper they go without acknowledgement, the more trouble they can become. What we well-meaningly resist, persists, right?
Our systems are built to take care of themselves if we understand how to work with them. For example, in cave man times the chemicals that surged through our bodies so that we could either fight or take flight were what helped us stay alive. They were meant to be used and then released. These survival energies, however, have not evolved well with our modern world, because those same life or death surges can now happen when we’re upset about being late for work or are stuck in traffic!
Animals in the wild don’t stuff their emotions and then just carry on with the rest of their day. An antelope will run for its life to escape a hungry lion, and if it’s lucky enough to evade capture, it will immediately shake its body from head to tail to get rid of the adrenaline. Doing this helps the antelope move out of fight or flight and work its way back into rest and digest. That’s how the system is supposed to self-regulate.
I, on the other hand, have learned to stoically stow the feelings involved with demanding situations, which has helped me get through them, but it’s also left their unresolved emotions to sit and fester in my body. My goal now is to shake off those energies as soon as I realistically can, so that I can clear their attached, harmful chemicals from my system.
Physically shaking the body can actually help, especially if you are able to do it right after evading your lion! (Taylor Swift even wrote a song about it!) Shake everything from head to toe as you think about the stress and gratefully let it go. Release it with love. After a bit you might feel kind of silly and start laughing, which will then send an even more powerful healing message throughout your entire body!
Here’s an energy exercise I learned from Donna Eden called “Expelling the Venom.” It’s another way to get your yuck unstuck. Give it a try. Do it as many times as feels good to move the energy.
Stand with your feet hip-with apart, holding your hands out in front of
you with palms up and elbows bent at your sides. Bring a present or
past stress to mind as you inhale deeply through your nose swinging
now clinched fists down behind you and then up over your head. Exhale
through your mouth (with a “shhh” sound) as you trace your fists down
the front of your body opening them and releasing the yuck into
the earth. As the last step, inhale through your nose (with a positive
affirmation if you’d like) as you bring your hands back up the center
of your body to up over your head “zipping in” fresh energy, swinging
your arms back down to your sides.