“Pull yourself together.” “Get a grip…” “What’s wrong with you?” “Here we go again!” “You’re a drama queen!” “What a B—-!” “Who do you think you are?” “That’s enough!”
Has anyone ever said those words to you? Have you ever said them to yourself or others? Those are messages that say it’s NOT okay (or safe) to feel our emotions! And it’s a message that says it’s NOT okay (or safe) to express them! And now, I’m here telling you that it’s NOT okay to hold them in either! EMOTIONS…. we STUFF them. We BURY them. We lock them up and throw away the key. But that key, however, is the key to your own well-being and its time we start honoring ourselves by getting rid of the toxic energy and emotions that are eating us alive. So what’s a girl to do?
I’ve been coaching hundreds of clients for the past ten years and the one thing that never ceases to amaze me is how issues and challenges all seem to rise up at once. In the past two weeks I have found myself coaching on the topic of MELTDOWNS! I have come to LOVE a good ol’ fashioned meltdown. Maybe it’s because I’ve finally given up the resistance to feeling what I need to feel, or maybe because I’ve actually experienced the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of releasing old toxic pain and mindsets. Or maybe it’s because I’ve experienced the physical, mental, and spiritual consequences for holding them in. So now, when the need arises, I simply embrace the MELTDOWN!
As women, we put enormous pressure on ourselves. Men might too, but I can only speak from my own experience! And while I might sound light-hearted about this topic, by no means do I want to make light of how important and effective it is to simply allow yourself to feel a wave of feelings and float along on the edge of your pain and fear… until it passes! Emotions are temporary, but when we hold onto them, they become permanent. When we store them inside, they are very powerful and often debilitating. Stuffing them inside works for a while, but over time, our body just cannot house that much energy, especially the low, dense energy of pain and heartache.
Over time, we have mastered the art keeping the peace, not rocking the boat, avoiding conflict, taking the high road, weathering the storm, bending, compromising, sacrificing, swallowing, stuffing it, and even burying our emotions for good. My mentor, Wanda Boone, once said, “Feelings that are buried alive, never die.” That statement woke me up. I had buried so many emotions over decades of my life that I wondered where they were stored if indeed they didn’t just disappear or evaporate. Wanda was right. Old, toxic, unprocessed emotions were still there, inside of me, and they were showing up in unhealthy habits and unhealthy relationships.
We have the capacity to hold onto a ton of toxic, dense emotions for decades and lifetimes! We bury them. Cover them up. Compartmentalize them. Put them in a storage unit inside our heart and padlock the door. And pity the fool who breaks the padlock without getting our permission first! Right?
So now what? What do we do with all that stored up toxicity? Start by acknowledging there’s a place inside that still hurts and if you can, acknowledge that you might have a pretty big storage unit of pain and anger inside of you somewhere. Then, let go of the resistance and allow it to surface. Simply visualize unlocking the padlock. That’s all! And then, visualize opening the door and allowing what needs to be handled first to surface. And when it does, be certain that you have the tools you need to take care of yourself, protect others, feel what you need to feel, and release it.
This is a current photograph of our garage. It’s a 3-car garage and my husband and I can barely find room for our bicycles, much less our cars! It is pretty much one big disaster! It is evidence of raising five kids and moving them in and out of apartments, and holding onto everything humanly possible. Recently, Bob and I began a project that required a tool that was buried somewhere in the garage, so we both opened the door from the kitchen and stared, bewildered, at the task in front of us… how could we safely navigate to the tool bench? After a few moments of just staring… my husband said, “What IS all this stuff?” As you can see, there is a lot of stuff, no joke. When he asked that question, I realized that I could identify almost every item in the garage and tell a long story about how it got there. Except in the far back corner, there is stuff that I have no idea where it came from or even who it belongs to! I think my son is storing it for his friend. Last week, I stored some of my friend’s stuff for a short time, and honestly, I never even knew it was there because I had so much other stuff around it! Her stuff was never even noticeable. So my husband and I looked at each other and said, “It’s time to clean it out. It’s time to get rid of all this stuff!” That project is now on the top of our list.
We thought about calling COLLEGE HUNKS HAULING JUNK and asking them to just take it ALL away! That would be painless and simple, but the truth is, there are really good and valuable things in there, mixed in with the ridiculous, meaningless, no-longer-need-it kind of stuff. We can’t just assign this job to someone else! Cleaning out our garage means sifting through thirty years of raising children. There are boxes and furniture from my husband’s childhood memories. There are Christmas ornaments and decorations that are priceless. There are family heirlooms! It houses a family history – the good, the bad, and even the very, very ugly. It holds the practical and impractical. It holds successes and failures. Just like my heart. So cleaning out that garage (or an attic, closet, bedroom, or even a drawer) can drive up emotions that we may not want to deal with. And, like my garage, no one can do that work for me. As women, we often hold onto ‘things’ just like we hold onto our emotions. And, sometimes, we close them off behind a door and say, “It’s way too much to deal with right now and I just don’t have time.” This is your work. And it is vitally important that you do this work. And sure, once I get it all sorted out, I can call upon professionals to help me get rid of it. But its up to me to sift through the debris and accumulation of stored up ‘stuff,’ physically and emotionally.
Okay, so yes… the truth is, we could leave all that stuff in our garage or attic until we die. And then our kids will have to do the dirty job of handling it for us! But with our emotions… it’s not so easy to ignore. The very feelings that make us uneasy, are the very ones that over time, show up as ‘dis-ease’ inside of our bodies. Our inability and unwillingness to allow our feelings to surface and our determination to NOT feel them, creates all kinds of diseases later in life. Our bodies just can’t hold any more of those dense, toxic emotions and it lets us know!
We are swallowing our emotions right alongside an alarming rise in prescriptions for medications to treat diseases such as depression, anxiety, blood pressure, blood sugar, hyper-hypothyroidism, indigestion, heartburn, high cholesterol, and nasal and bronchial congestion more than ever before! We are gulping down caffeine to keep up with our pace to out-run our buried feelings. We are taking sleep-aides to help us rest at night. In short, we are killing ourselves! So I ask again, are we doing as well as we think we are? Or are we simply managing, coping and surviving one day at a time? I’m here to tell you, there’s another way. There’s a way to live and feel joy and experience true peace… and it starts with allowing yourself the time you deserve to have your very own meltdowns… mini or not!
The best way to stop the insanity we’ve created is to start feeling our fears. Allow yourself to FEEL what you feel and learn how to be responsible for those feelings so others around you aren’t pulled into the toxic swamp with you, or find they are suddenly missing a body part because they stepped into the line of fire when you were feeling your anger. The purpose of releasing emotions is not to hurt others, but to heal. Most of us have no idea how to do that!
As I stared out into the garage, overwhelmed at how much we have to sort through, I asked myself, “What if this is what it looks like inside my soul? What if this garage is a mirror to my mind, body and spirit?” There is no real ‘what if’ to that question. It is. And I see how much work I have to do. If I truly want to be healed, and happy, and whole, then I have to make time to deal with all of the emotional ‘stuff.’
This may be a new concept for you, so here are a few truths that will help you begin!
When you need to have a serious meltdown, remember this:
- Simplify your life. That busy calendar you have? With all the very important and legitimate stuff on it? Chances are, it’s all there to serve as a distraction to avoid facing something you haven’t wanted to face. Begin saying no, and simplifying your life. Create white space on your calendar.
- Get rid of the clutter! As cliché as it sounds, choose an area that is cluttered in your home and clean it out. De-cluttering your external world de-clutters your mind, body and spirit too!
- Eat well. Sleep more! Eating fresh whole foods supports your body to release the emotions. Ask anyone who has gone through a healthy detox and they will tell you that they felt all kinds of emotions! Your body has housed these buried emotions for awhile and you want to support it as you begin excavating and releasing the toxicity! So eat whole foods and drink plenty of good clean spring water. Get 8 hours of sleep of each night! It’s essential for a good meltdown to occur!
- Get out of your head and into your heart! As you begin to feel and process past emotions, don’t try to figure it out. Don’t analyze your feelings and sensitivities! I tried that and it doesn’t really work! When it comes to ‘feelings,’ there is no logic! You’ll distract yourself right out of the experience! Just surrender and let your feelings rise up, and out. If you find yourself analyzing it and trying to figure it out, you’re in your head – that’s not where the emotions are! That’s just another trick for avoiding the process! Notice how often you do this one! (It’s a biggie for me too!) Simply put: You cannot think your way through a meltdown. The purpose is to simply FEEL your emotions. If you think about them, you’ll bury them again.
- Don’t make any major decisions! So when you feel your feelings, you are not really thinking, unless it’s about things that help you feel. And when you aren’t thinking, you may feel you are not in control and another layer of fear will show up. During this period of time, it is NOT wise to make any big decisions. Let the feelings wash over you, and give them time to pass.
- Feel the fear. Feel the anger. Feel the sadness. Most often, in that order.
- Get to what is true. Emotions are not representations of facts. Usually they are great big reactions to a small but significant truth! Explore that.
- Give yourself some time. Having a meltdown takes time. It’s not something you fit in between grocery shopping and carpool. Call a time-out or make a request for an evening alone. Get coverage for the kids. Send the family out for an evening and have the house to yourself. Create a safe space and plenty of time that’s just for you to feel what you need to feel, release it, and recover.
- Journal. When I’m releasing old emotions triggered by a new event, I journal. Writing it down and speaking your truth and putting your anger and pain onto paper is cathartic. BUT! It can create all kinds of drama if someone else reads it. When we have a radioactive leak, people in HAZMAT suits come to clean it up! Why? Because it’s toxic! Your expressions of old emotions can be toxic too! So when you release your feelings, dispose of them responsibly. I recommend burning them! There’s something powerful in knowing they can no longer hurt you or others. And because this questions comes up often, you can journal on your computer, but do not save the file… and be sure to print all the pages and burn them! Seriously, its part of the release!
- Seek wise counsel. If you’ve attempted to fall into this sea of emotions before, and you know you have a hard time pulling out, make sure you have people checking on you now and then. And if you have a history of depression or anxiety, it is probably best to see a therapist while you are processing it. Be responsible for yourself, but do quit avoiding it. Our desire is to live in peace, and that is impossible when we have built a toxic waste dump inside of ourselves!
If you don’t have a lot of practice diving into (or falling into) your fears and feelings, you’ll want to read Part 2 (in my next EZine) where I will discuss ways to safely feel the deeper more intense emotions. And as always, be sure to have a coach, therapist, or mentor support you as you walk through the hard parts of a meltdown. You are irreplaceable! Honor yourself and this process.
Love and Blessings,