10 ways to let go of old shit that weighs you down
When we are challenged by life, we experience reactive feelings in the present time. But what you may not realise is we activate old mental thought and behavioural patterns from incidents long ago, that more often than not are unresolved. And it is this unfinished business which fuels your hate fire today.
These are our emotional wounds.
We all have them. I’ll repeat that because it’s significant. We all have stuff. We’ve all had a childhood, and experiences and breathed during this journey called life.
Sometimes we refer to these emotional wounds as ‘that old monkey on our back’. Emotional wounds are the source of negative energy which drive the uncontrollable defensive impulsive actions.
Without getting into the specific details, I experienced an incident late last year which made me feel extremely vulnerable and violated. My personal space had been invaded in the worst possible way.
It took me at least five weeks of processing those stunned shocked emotions, to be able to write a letter of complaint and express the wrongdoing. And just to clarify this did not mean that the issue was resolved. It simply took me that period of time to be able to speak up.
And now that I have submitted that complaint to the organization. They accepted that they did the wrong thing. They said sorry. But it still doesn’t feel enough, and I’m angry.
They said they would investigate and get back to me. Two months later and their ongoing silence and I feel ignored, cast aside. Frankly, I am pissed off to the point of feeling incensed.
My psychologist helped me to connect my feelings which were associated with injustice. The emotional pain I was experiencing was multi-faceted.
The injustice of being ignored, of having my personal space being invaded makes me see red.
“How fucking dare you ignore me.” I thought to myself.
The injustice that it took me a month to summons my courage and speak up and you still aren’t meeting me halfway.
The injustice associated with I did the right thing for other women following me using this service who could just as easily experience what happened to me…because I’ve had no feedback, I have to presume nothing has changed.
And as I breathe I realise my blood pressure has risen. My hands are clenched. My lips are snarled and I want to cause harm — with a baseball bat.
I am infuriated.
And in a session with my psychologist, we spoke about the injustices of this world. She reminded me that there is no real justice in this world, just our acceptance of what has happened to us and our ability to heal. My psychologist reminded me of this quote:
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
We spoke of how anger is a second-hand emotion (or substitute emotion) which we use subconsciously to avoid a primary emotion such as fear, vulnerability, or pain.
Why carry that pain and negativity in our body. We are the ones who suffer by hanging on. From a physiological perspective, emotions such as anger and resentment are scientifically linked to heart disease and hypertension.
The more we spoke and unpacked those feelings of anger, the calmer I began to feel and I began to relax. It was then I was able to reflect and dig deep, connecting to the reference of injustice.
The current incident and the remnant emotions actually connected to unfinished business from a traumatic incident as a child. The near-instant connection of injustice that the perpetrator from before was never held accountable for their actions hit me hard. And I am still angry about that.
And it was happening again. The rising pain, and desire to run from the burn of a myriad of emotions was overwhelming and vomit worthy. I took a breath and realised now as an adult, I now have a voice and can speak up and continue to communicate how I’m feeling.
But that little girl who was hurt wasn’t able to speak. And right now she has a bucket load of emotion to rage vomit up and out. To resolve the depth of arising pain, I got into my journal. I smacked a pillow. I screamed in the shower. I slept. I cried. And I finished with meditation to ease the rawness.
If we compare this conflict and injustice with how some are coping with COVID lock down the psychology process is similar.
We don’t like to be told what we cant do. We don’t like the thought of being confined in our homes. Ultimately the connection between my story and COVID is this — we don’t like the thought of our space being invaded. We hate the thought of our civil liberties being denied or violated.
So let’s talk about some tools to work through these feelings.
Tip #1 Own Your Anger
Honour all the feels you are experiencing. You cant process anything until you acknowledge it is there. Ignoring that emotional stuff means that you are merely stuffing it deeper within.
Purge into the journal. Some find this very confronting or get stuck now knowing what to write. Tell your story in your words and your way. Ramble to your hearts c content. Word vomit out onto the page and have the tissues handy.
Tip #2 Recognise the Source of Your Anger
Acknowledging the source of your anger is a healthy connection and great start to purging out all the negative feels.
Tip #3 Practice Relaxation Techniques
I find meditation is a beautiful relaxation technique. Regular practice of meditation enables me to connect to my heart space and leave the monkey chatter of the mind behind.
Manage your stress through mindful breathing, meditation, yoga, taking a bath. The more you can relax, the more your logic brain will work to enable you to strategies and identify solutions to solve the problem.
Tip #4 Talk to a Professional
Talking therapy is very powerful when you feel safe to do so. Chatting with someone you connect with is paramount. I strongly recommend they are trained to support you to safely release trauma and take back your power.
Tip #5 Take a Time Out
Having a self-imposed time out is sometimes safer than speaking up or speaking out to the person who has triggered you. Taking a timeout will prevent you from saying something out of anger that you might later regret.
Tip #6 Deal with One Issue At A Time
Don’t try and problem solve everything at once, it rapidly becomes completely consuming and overwhelming. Once traumatised you expend a lot of energy just trying to remain out of flight fight let alone deal with the extra shit that life has us juggling right now.
So push the pause button and place your focus on one thing at a time. Usually, this would include the pressing priority and nothing else. You’re already stressed out, why include additional burdens upon yourself.
Tip #7 Daily Exercise
Get outside and walk. You’ll gain the benefit of vitamin D from sunlight. You will also generate your own feel-good hormones through invigorated movement, which helps fire your logical mental thought processes which look for positive rather than having you focus on anything negative.
Tip #8 Nurture Yourself
There is no one else on the planet that you will have a long relationship with than the person who you look in the mirror each day. So it stands to reason you should be looking after yourself! But we don’t and we conjure up all manner of bullshit excuses to avoid looking or doing anything for self.
The is no end to how you can pamper and nurture self. I always suggest starting small so that you can connect with how you feel when you do make the effort. For example, do you get in the shower and go through the motions of washing, or do you value you have legs to stand up, fingers to massage your skin and experience touch? Could you loofah your skin so it’s glowing later on?
Do you moisture your skin after showering?
Do you wear underwear that makes you feel awesome regardless of what you have over the top?
Do you wear comfortable shoes so that you can walk anywhere all day long?
Tip #9 Express yourself via a journal
Writing about your experiences and the feels in your journal is a lovely way to empower yourself through expression. Exploring awareness of your triggers — people, environment, smells, sights all contribute to learning about yourself. Our senses all have the opportunity to associate with negative situations which eventually become our memories.
The joy of a journal is that it immediately enables you to express, rather than having crap doing laps inside your head.
Tip #10 Don’t Hold Grudges — Learn to Let Go
Holding a grudge actually has more health implications for you than it does for the other person. Not only do they take up your physical energy, but they also make your emotional state toxic.
Even if you have been legitimately offended, which most people have, try to take an empathic perspective rather than acting like a victim. Forgiving thoughts will allow you to have a greater sense of perceived control and reduced physiological stress response, which will help decrease your anger.
Always remember that you aren’t forgiving the other person for their benefit. You are forgiving them for you.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean all peace love and mung beans. It is simply gifting yourself the opportunity to stop carrying around toxic negative feelings and getting on with making happiness deposits in your bank.
Tip #11 Visualise the Release
Sitting quietly and visualising the release of anything negative is very empowering.
Tips and examples of visualisation can be found here.