Unresolved emotions affect us physically.
Like food is fuel for the body, so emotions are fuel for the mind. Both the mind and the gastrointestinal tract are designed for processing and their fuel keeps them functional. Even though we have often been taught that our emotions are small, they are in truth quite large. They are so large sometimes that we don’t know what to do with them.
The dictionary defines emotions and feelings as the same thing, but they are different. Feelings, such as happiness, joy, sorrow, and anger are spontaneous and cannot be altered. Emotions are the expression of the feelings.
Emotions are under our control because a thought is attached to the emotion. For example, if someone insults you about your weight, you might feel hurt and sad. What is the thought that occurs immediately after the feeling? One thought could be, “He’s right, I am a failure.” Another thought could be, “What a jerk!” In this example, the same feeling had the potential to generate two different emotions – discouragement or indignation.
You cannot help the feeling, but what do you do with emotion? As a child, your parents decided what you did with your emotions. In my case, the saying, “Children are to be seen and not heard” was the directive. If I expressed the emotion of anger, I was punished. If I expressed the emotion of fear, I was told to “buck up.” So, I learned to stop expressing my emotions and stuffed them way down inside me. Whether your childhood was like mine or not, it is true that people of all ages struggle with how to appropriately deal with emotions. Here are some other things people do with emotions:
- Stuffing – not allowing the emotion to be processed
- Blocking – pretending that the emotion did not exist
- Venting – spewing the emotion all over everyone else (it still stays inside, like a dog that eats its own vomit)
- Ignoring – the emotion is felt but not one thought is allowed to rest on it
- Obsessing – some people stay fixated on the emotion and cannot move forward
If we are not able to process our emotions so that they can be appropriately stored in the brain’s memory banks, quantum physics tells us that the emotions will reside in some part of our bodies. Every cell has a memory or it would not be able to do what it was designed to do. My chiropractor says that the connective tissues are especially good at storing emotions.
Feelings Buried Alive Never Die
Karol K. Truman wrote a book called, Feelings Buried Alive Never Die. She has done extensive research on what organs and areas of the body hold unresolved emotion. She contends that discomfort in a certain area indicates the presence of an unresolved emotion.
This book was instrumental to me understanding how emotions affect my physical body. I especially resonated with the section that focused on the gastrointestinal tract. I can say that I experienced most of the following issues and had to resolve them one-by-one. As I did the emotional work, the physical symptoms lessened and then disappeared. It was amazing.
Below is an excerpt from Truman’s book for the gastrointestinal tract. See if any of these things ring true in your life.
- Feeding the need for love, acceptance, and protection
- Resistant to change
- Fears moving out of comfort zone
- Our sense of security feels threatened
- Fears new ideas
- Lack of affection
- Condemning the success of other people
- Unhappy feelings
- Feelings of bitterness
- Feelings of anger
- Wanting to force things
- Feelings of judgment
- Feelings of guilt
- Low self-esteem
- Suppressing laughter
- Incorrect use of ego
- Feels the joy of living is gone / not allowing joy
- Incorrect use of judgment
- Identifies with possessions and has little sense of self
- Worrying about others, but need introspection to change self
- Feels responsible for giving understanding, help and encouragement
- Feeling undue tension, fear and anxiety which constricts energy flow
- Disharmony and bondage in relationships
- Bound up in present fears and not trusting
- Bottled up hate
- Fear of release
If any of these feelings made you think, “That’s me,” consider how those feelings and their corresponding emotions may be affecting you physically.
Appropriately handling emotions, especially old ones, requires that we pull them out with our mind from the areas where they are residing in our bodies and take a good, loving look them. Consider why you feel the way you do. If you were a child when the emotion occurred, return to that time in your mind and look at the situation with your adult mind. Journaling is a very valuable tool for sorting through emotions. If you touch the emotion with your mind and either make sense of it or release it with forgiveness, you can heal.
One day I was on the chiropractor’s table. At one point he gave my neck a little karate chop and tears sprang into my eyes. The tears were not because of physical pain, but from emotional pain. I don’t remember what the event was that his little chop touched, but I felt the emotion just the same. As I allowed the tears to flow, these words came to my mind: “If you never let it go, it will never go away.” Since I am committed to becoming, I let the mystery emotion go – with my blessing of forgiveness. Then, I thought with a smile, “If you let it go, it will go away.”
Karol Truman says that neck problems stem from “moving under pressure, wanting to let feelings out but don’t dare, or not wanting to yield to opinions you think are wrong.” Yep, that’s me. It’s a recurring theme in my life, so I still have to work on that neck issue once in a while. Each time I resolve the emotion, my neck relaxes.
Maybe if more people learned about letting go of unresolved emotions our world would be a more pleasant place. It would certainly be healthier.
Action Step: Go through the list above and write about times when you felt those feelings. Pay close attention to see if any releasing needs to be done. Feel free to share your thoughts with someone in your support network. It’s easier to sort through life with a friend.