The Ultimate Self-Healing Tool
You’re three years old. You’re in a paddling pool with your older sibling and he pushes your head under water and holds you there while he laughs. He just thinks he’s being funny. It’s all very innocent. He lets go and you come up for air gasping and crying. Your mom runs over, scolds the older child and gives you a hug.
But what if considerably more has happened beneath the surface of the gasping and crying? What if, in that moment, you felt like you were going to die? What if you decided you couldn’t trust anyone anymore? What if you saw your safety as constantly compromised? What if you thought you did something to deserve it?
We’ve all experienced trauma. We most often don’t escape childhood without a few ass-kicking traumas and adulthood isn’t any easier.
Something happens. Someone shames you. You fail a test or a grade. You lose a parent, grandparent, best friend, pet. You’re told you’re “too much” by the adults around you. You fall off a slide at the playground.
You watch your father hit your mother. You see your sibling doing drugs. You get drunk at a college party and sleep with someone rough…mean…uncaring.
You have an affair. Your spouse has one. You divorce. You lose a child. You lose a parent. You lose your job.
We’ve all been through something that has left an indelible mark on us. And it doesn’t have to be the big, hairy catastrophe through which we often define trauma.
I remember being in grade 1. My teacher, Mrs. Coleman, asked all of us to turn to page 59 in our phonics book. For some reason, I just couldn’t find the page number. Mrs. Coleman came over to me and stood behind me and shouted, “What seems to be the problem, Ann?!” I told her I was having a hard time finding the page. She abruptly grabbed my arm (those were the days of arm-grabbing) and told me to go stand in the corner. The ‘bad’ corner.
Now, that might not sound too life-altering to someone hearing it. But for my six year old self, it was horrid. I felt deeply ashamed. I also felt stupid. I also remembered thinking, “If I can’t figure something out, I better keep it to myself.”
And there we have a trauma.
The trauma itself is never really a problem. It’s called Life. We bravely come into physical bodies in order to wake up our consciousness. And sometimes it ain’t easy.
It becomes a problem when we take the feelings and the emotions associated with the trauma and we somehow tuck them away. We do this in one of three ways.
- We suppress the feelings; meaning we consciously push them down and out of sight.
- We repress the feelings; meaning we unconsciously push them down and out of sight.
- We distract ourselves and escape from the feelings.
The problem then becomes that the feeling and emotion still exist but we’ve cut ourselves off from it. Why is this a problem? Because every time we do this, we fragment. We become a little less whole.
The other and perhaps more significant problem with this evasion is that these feelings have to go somewhere. So they often go to the weakest link in the body. That means that if you’ve got a family history of heart issues, it can sit in the heart and can start to make biological changes there. This might mean high blood pressure.
If you’ve got sketchy digestion, this might mean that now you’re experiencing leaky gut or chronic constipation.
If your pancreas hasn’t been functioning particularly well, this might result in Type 2 Diabetes.
The body will store what we won’t feel.
Luckily for us, we can “go in” at any time, access those feelings and allow them to move. It’s what they want. It’s what our bodies want. It’s what unlocks the prison doors on our lives. It’s what sets us free in the now.
First, we figure out what, on the surface, is bugging us. I say ‘on the surface’ because it so very often has roots in early trauma. So when something is persistent in its agitation, we take a look.
Your mind is going to want to take you into the story of it. Meaning, if what is currently agitating you is a coworker, your mind is going to want to keep looping back to, “It’s my annoying coworker. She just won’t stop talking. She’s such a victim. I feel like I’m around an energy vampire!”
That might all be true. But we’re looking for what’s true for you. What’s true for you might be that this coworker is kicking up old feelings of inadequacy. She might be triggering an old shame program that is still running its tapes within you. So how do we work with this?
In my experience and to my knowledge, the only way we heal anything is to feel it and surrender it. Here are the steps we can take to surrender our old, stuck feelings that might still be holding us under arrest.
We acknowledge what we’re feeling. The only way we do this is to come out of the story that our mind is spinning, in the example of the annoying coworker, and move into the feeling. There’s a saying in Buddhist Philosophy that goes, “Feel the feeling and lose the story.” So we drop into the body where the emotions sit. And we notice what’s there. Is it anger? Is it fear? Is it a feeling of diminishment? Once we feel into the feeling, we acknowledge it. We might say to ourselves, “I see you fear.”
We accept the feeling that’s there. Once we acknowledge the feeling (“I see you fear”) the next space we move into is acceptance. We might feel into ourselves and say, “This is okay.” It needs to be okay to first even have the emotion or we’re going to have a really hard time working with it. And some emotions are tougher to accept than others. Are you feeling jealous of someone? That’s uncomfortable for a lot of people. Are you feeling greed? That’s very uncomfortable for a lot of people. But they’re just feelings. And they’ve come from somewhere long ago when we didn’t have enough awareness to do anything about them. So, we accept our feelings. All of them.
We feel the feeling. Now we go into the body and we start feeling what’s there. Is there shaking in your chest? A pounding heart? Sweating? Are you clenching your hands? Do you feel sick in your belly? Then we go even deeper. What’s the emotion like? Is there anger? As it moves, do you notice that it changes form? Does it become fear? Does the fear morph into shame? Smallness? Helplessness? Allow all of it to move through your body. Do not impede its movement. Let it flow. Because what’s actually happening is you’re slowly but surely dislodging these old, stuck emotions.
Finally, we surrender it. Once you have felt the feeling and allowed the emotional charge to burn itself out, you surrender it. You say, “I hand this over now. I let it go.” Where do you surrender it to? That’s up to you. The Universe. God. The Unified Field. It doesn’t matter. Just let it go.
We come here to feel. We come here to experience the ups and downs of physical life.
Brene Brown says, “Numb the dark and you numb the light.” When we don’t feel into the yuckies, we lose out on the glory. In fact, they’re one in the same. It’s simply us going into the depth of feeling. Both can be an incredible experience. If we let it.
2 Comments »