By Pam Levin
We have all heard about detoxing… detoxing your physical body that is. You abstain from sugar, gluten, processed foods, meat, dairy and alcohol for a particular period of time, while possibly using an organic herbal product to aid in cleansing your system. To me, real detoxing takes more than a week or two. Actually, for some of us, depending upon your age and lifestyle, it may take several months to really give your own body a chance to cleanse, recover, and replenish. Physical detoxing can be helpful to reboot your own body’s chance to cleanse itself and heal naturally.
But what about the INNER detox? What about an EMOTIONAL detox? This is MY sweet spot… helping you to understand how the negative emotions (anger, sadness, frustration, fear, anxiety, jealousy, low self esteem) you may hold within can sometimes be an even greater cause of stress, and eventually chronic disease. Negative emotions hold you captive. Let me help you understand how this works.
Some of you may have heard or read about the late Dr. Candace Pert. Dr Pert was an internationally recognized neuroscientist and pharmacologist. In 1997, she published a book called The Molecules of Emotion in which she described her research showing that emotions we feel can impact and change the biology of our cells. Our cells are affected by both positive and negative emotions. Hence, good emotions like joy, love, kindness, compassion, empathy, happiness, and bliss parlay into new (healthy) cell growth. On the flip side, negative emotions do exactly the opposite; they send signals to our cells that interrupt normal cell regeneration.
So, for example, if you are challenged by an event in your life such as a divorce, death of a loved one, physical or emotional abuse, caring for a very ill aging parent, stress at work or losing your job, being involved in an accident where there is physical trauma, dealing with an unruly family member, you will undoubtedly be experiencing stressful emotions. Your body will first give you a clue through some very physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach upsets, aches and pains, skin rashes, hair loss, heart palpitations, and anxiety attacks. These symptoms are your body’s way of trying to get your attention… to let you know that what you are feeling is tipping the emotional scale that you are “out of balance” — out of homeostasis.
If you ignore these symptoms (which you may or may not experience) your body will still work EXTRA hard to restore balance. Every system in your body will do plenty of overtime work to maintain homeostasis. Your body has the power to heal itself if you nourish it and allow it. But there is usually a penalty to be paid for overtime work: onset of illness or chronic disease if not recognized and addressed.
So how do you begin to detox your emotional body? How do you rid yourself of a painful experience which saddens or angers your “being,” your heart? Let’s take a look at this, step by step.
First, let’s acknowledge that we will ALL go through challenging times in life. You, your family, your friends all experience events which may not be pleasant, in fact, which may be painful. You are NOT alone. It is part of life. Good and bad. Yin and yang. Positive and negative. That’s what makes life… LIFE. The unexpected. The uncertainty of it all. But it’s HOW you perceive, process, and cope with these events that makes ALL the difference in your ability to develop resilience — to overcome the emotional challenge and switch up how you choose to REact to each and every event.
Second, when you are in that state of angst, I say “CRY.” Cry when you need to. If it’s painful, cry. If you are so darn angry, release it in a place where you can cause NO harm to another soul or property. Then cry. Why do you think you were given the biological ability to cry? Crying is a physical release of emotion. But also recognize that sometimes crying is the release of an overabundance of a great good emotion (i.e., I laughed until I cried.)
Third, start the Digging Deep process. This is the long one. This is the tough one. It will require your ultimate sincerity, patience and desire to rid yourself of that nagging, eruptive negative emotion which is slowly eating away at your body and soul. You need to come clean. Emotionally clean. Your body needs to rid itself of the negative emotions to make room for those great ones which will help you to truly heal, feel better and live longer.
How do you dig deep? There are many ways, and I suggest you tap into as many of them as you can. Find ones which resonate best with you. Some ideas are to visit a counselor, share your feelings with a friend/family member you trust, life coach, advisor of faith (priest, rabbi, minister, shaman), create a circle of people around you for support — maybe those going through similar events/circumstances who you can share your thoughts/feelings with. Find a place of solitude where you can relax or meditate. Read, inquire, and delve into anything spiritual which may help you see the bigger picture of your circumstances.
Digging deep also means getting honest with yourself. It means recognizing your “shadow” — those dark parts that we all have that we need to lighten. Digging deep involves playing back your life’s events and hovering over those in which you were discontented, unhappy, fearful, angry or plain sad. And while you are hovering, getting to the root of those emotions is key. And once the root is found, next step is destroy it, and then replant it with something of yourself which is so much better.
Digging deep is painful. It’s painful because you have to face a part of yourself which you may not like to see — which you may be ashamed of, which you may be embarrassed about, or which just doesn’t serve your wellbeing, but it is real and is rooted. Once you understand why that root is there and how it is actually encumbering your wellness, happiness and longevity, you can eradicate it.
So after you take a step back to hone in on your true self and the disguises you have used to hide your shadow, you will begin to comprehend how these feelings really don’t serve a purpose any longer. They don’t allow you to move forward, to expand, to create momentum of action (MOA) with your life. And life is all about momentum… moving! Your body and its cells are changing, moving every moment. Your mindset has to keep up. Part of the emotional detoxing process is letting go of the past and moving into the present. Letting GO. Letting go of those emotions which are harmful and no longer serve any purpose whatsoever. Those negative emotions just hold you captive to the past.
Are you ready? Tell yourself you don’t need to hold onto old feelings. Tell yourself something so much greater is waiting there for you. And it IS! Once you clear out the BAD, the GOOD has room to reside. And there is so much good waiting for you!
Inviting the good is refreshing and replenishing. It’s like a breath of fresh air. Its opening a door of possibilities, which YOU will co create. And you CAN. Do you know why? Because you are now an emotionally clean vessel opening up your heart and soul to something so much greater.
So now you have so many choices to fill yourself with good STUFF. Yep, good stuff like kindness, happiness, joy, compassion, understanding, gratitude, forgiveness and more. These are all qualities which make your BODY feel good. And what does your body do when it feels good? It creates “HAPPY cells”… healthy, new, vibrant cells to replenish the old ones which it is ready to shed. I’ve named them HAPPY cells because they are truly made of your own emotional happiness. They’re the BEST — natural, vibrant, glowing, healthy, balanced.
So the next time you consider doing a (physical) detox, consider the emotional detox as well. Remember, your emotions are intricately connected to your biophysical body. The emotional component of your health plays a vital part in your overall wellness. It all works together.
Body-Mind-Spirit. You deserve to be happy. Let your greatness shine! (A sweet tweetable!)
This post first appeared on Huffington Post.
About the Author:
Pamela Levin is founder and President of Create Amazing Health, LLC and the self branded website PassionatelyPam.com . She turns health upside down and on its side by fusing ancient holistic wellness disciplines with cutting edge health ideas. Her academic education includes schooling in engineering and business (MBA-University of Michigan) with additional training from the Deepak Chopra Center in Perfect Health. Her mission is to help others understand and participate in the changing paradigm of health and wellness. She is a thought leader, Huffington Post blogger, motivational speaker and catalyst for health change, determined to inspire others and make (being) healthy FUN! Connect with Pam on Facebook, Twitter, or Soundcloud.