“May suppression of emotions end as we discover safe ways to express grief, anger, and loss without hurting ourselves or one another.”—from A Hundred Ways to Let Go—Excerpt from Abundant Heart: Thoughts on Healing, Loving, and Living Free
The human body has fascinated me since sixth-grade science class. Holding onto the hardback textbook with an image on the front of the lungs, the heart with the arteries, veins, and capillaries beautifully interconnected with reds, blues, and purples, I hoped my heart and lungs looked as glorious. I felt so much awe for the body I occupied.
Lately, I’ve been wondering, again, about how we can engage in conscious breathing and then not pay any attention to our breathing and, yet our bodies will keep breathing. Thank goodness. The stomach and intestines digest food; the heart muscle receives deoxygenated blood; and pumps oxygenated blood and nutrients throughout the body without our directive thoughts. Some humans attempt to control their hunger and bladders. Yet, when your body needs a bio break, it’s best to honor the body’s needs for clean water, healthy food, and to release the waste the body no longer needs.
How miraculous these many ringed circuses of the human body are like a symphony with multiple conductors. Without our conscious awareness so much is taking place in the human body. Most of us trust these processes without thinking much about them when we wake up in the morning and throughout our day.
Human emotions are not often viewed as part of the systems of the physiological body and yet are very much integral to the experience of being human, of living in our bodies.
Somewhere along the human development journey, it seems many humans, including me, learned to suppress emotions, to drip grief into mildewed boxes dropped in a cluttered, neglected basement, to stuff healthy anger inside an “I don’t want to be called a bitch.” Lobster pot with lid in a kitchen cabinet, smear green jealousy onto the lenses of binoculars, and press fearshame into the hot steam of an iron which only releases wrinkles from bright, fake smiling shirts and too-tight jeans.
I remember learning that emotions are energy in motion, that feelings must be felt, rather than numbed, suppressed, or repressed. There’s greater understanding and thorough research demonstrating that suppressed emotions along with past or persistent traumas can lead to mental, emotional, and physical diseases in the body.
Years ago, I watched and learned from my children’s preschool teachers many ways children (and adults) can safely discharge frustration, fear, jealousy, impatience, acute grief, and separation anxiety. Hitting punching bags, doing yoga Ha’s, stomping feet, running, wiggling/shaking the body, writing down all the words of sadness and wants, making a list of wishes, getting on all fours while roaring like a lion happen to be a handful of these pathways. Children learned “stop” meant to freeze their bodies like in the game “Freeze Tag.” And the fundamental guidance, “People are not for hurting.” Teachers guided the children to useful and healthy ways to express their emotions and I integrated many of these ideas into my home with my son and daughter.
Up underneath strong emotions and hurtful human behaviors are often unmet human needs–and how essential for healthy human healing and evolution to take place in the context of nourishing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs including being loved, knowing you are lovable, capable, seen, heard, forgiven, and cherished. Sometimes the rigors of reparenting yourself and gaining a rich, layered understanding of your ever-unfolding and dynamic emotional world can be very brave and rigorous work. To become the person your radiant heart knows you can become remains possible and within your reach, like aware breathing, then unaware breathing, you can watch, feel the flow, and trust yourself to find dynamic equilibrium. May you unpack your suppressed emotions and feel all of them, maybe with the support of gifted professionals. Feeling your feelings can be the price of your soul’s freedom.
The founder of Cherish Your World, Laura Staley passionately supports people thriving by guiding them to a holistic transformation of space, heart, and life. Laura is the published author of four books including Live Inspired which reveals the brave and deep work of self-discovery and her new book of short writings and poetry Abundant Heart: Thoughts on Healing, Loving, and Living Free where with her characteristic grace and candor, Laura shares thoughtful-sometimes comical reflections on healing, loving and living free as inspirational pathways for experiencing a soul-centered, fulfilled life.