How To Grieve, Rage And Move On
Heal Your Life Blog
How To Grieve, Rage And Move OnDr. Northrup’s Do’s And Don’ts For Releasing Unhealthy Emotions
Several years ago I developed a “frozen shoulder” – a very common condition for women in mid-life believed to be related to hormones and menopause. I knew that wasn’t my problem, and I also knew I did not injure my shoulder.
Healing is always a combination of emotional, physical and spiritual work. Because of my work with thousands of patients and my personal experiences with emotions and illness, I know that, at their core, all illnesses and physical ailments—including those seemingly caused by accidents or viruses—have an emotional component. When you don’t release emotions regularly, they get stuck and eventually create illness. I am here to tell you that you don’t have to create illness to awaken our need to heal.
The Truth About Stored Emotions
Many of us were taught that if you just name your emotion -- “I’m ticked off,” or I feel embarrassed” – and make some conscious choices about your thoughts and behaviors, then that’s the end of it. But it doesn’t really work that way. Deeply stored emotions don’t go away simply because you have named them and cried a few times, shouted at someone or talked to a therapist. True transformation involves changing our thoughts AND the emotional connections that keep us stuck. Here’s why:
1. Emotions get stored in our energy fields and tissues where they can remain for years waiting for us to have the courage to express them.
2. Unprocessed emotions of anger, grief, sadness and shame are a serious health threat. They cause the body to create and hold onto stress hormones that lead to disease.
3. You MUST process your emotions by learning what they signify and release them.
4. There is no need to fear emotions that come up. You were designed biologically to feel and release emotions regularly and easily
Where Emotions Get Stuck And How To Release Them
Pain or dis-ease is our bodies’ way of telling us to heal old hurts. My “frozen shoulder” certainly had something to do with unprocessed emotions. Our shoulders are in the 4th Chakra – the Heart Chakra – along with our hearts, lungs, and ribs. And, through much work I finally determined that I was carrying around deep hurt related to my father, and that I had been perpetuating the same pattern in a recent romantic relationship, which allowed the original hurt to surface.
Realizing this pattern intellectually was not enough to heal my shoulder or my heart. I could not “think it better.” Knowing that the way out is through, I knew I needed to become willing to look again at my emotional issues surrounding my father.
Here are the three steps I used, and you can too, to heal:
1. Hold regular grief release sessions. At the suggestion of Dr. Doris Cohen, I held daily anger and grief release sessions for three days straight and 15 minutes at a time. During each session I imagined my father sitting in front of me and I let my rage fly. This involved yelling, swearing, and crying until I felt spent.
2. Nurture Your Body. Releasing pure, unfiltered anger and letting it out was the first step. Then, I took an Epsom salts bath and imagined all of the stored-up toxins leaving my body and mind. I literally allowed them to be washed down the drain.
3. Do “Active Imagination” Work. After three days of releasing anger and grief, I spent ten minutes each day for the next two days imagining my father praising me, and then seeing myself glowing with pride. Having cleared out the toxins, this allowed me to reprogram my cells with a new story.
You Have a Right To Your Feelings
We all have a right to our feelings. But, the fact that you are entitled to feel hurt, grief, or anger does not mean that carrying it around with you is working for you. I realized this during my healing process; that the hurt I felt in my relationship with my father was imprinted in the way I treated myself, and being mirrored back to me in some of my closest relationships. Releasing my feelings and standing up for myself allowed me to heal my shoulder and create new patterns for relationships and health. This entire process is like removing the rocks from the soil and cultivating it before planting new seeds. Within two weeks my shoulder pain and limitation was nearly gone, and within a month it had completely resolved.
What Not To Do When Releasing Stored Emotions
In our culture there are whole industries that thrive on people staying stuck in old patterns. The key to moving forward is to know how to successfully release unhealthy emotions and patterns so that you can free yourself from pain and potential disease. The steps I took are simple, but don’t fall into these traps:
1. Don’t become a victim. Talking about your childhood traumas over and over, and asking others to buy into your suffering as well in lieu of doing a release, is a classic “victim” mentality and will keep you stuck. All of us are given a certain amount of crap to compost. Get it out so you mix it into rich new soil.
2. Don’t indulge in the inherent drama. There’s a difference between bringing emotions to the surface in order to release them and artificially keeping those emotional experiences alive in you. You may know people who are fashionably cynical, or who think the world is always out to get them. Instead, indulge in what Rob Brezsny calls “pronoia” and start believing that the world is going to shower you with blessings.
3. Don’t dull your pain. We don’t learn through avoidance. Drinking, smoking, eating too much or denial just serve to drive our emotions deeper. Be willing to crack open and experience your feelings. Remember no emotions are “negative.” They all have a function.
4. Don’t wait to be happy. Stop waiting to lose weight, or achieve a promotion, and whatever else you think will make you happy. Put the music on and dance NOW.