Emotional baggage is heavy. It weighs us down mentally, energetically and physically. You’ll notice for example that people who have a lot of stress tend to get backaches, headaches and tension in their shoulders. People with anger and anxiety tend to get stomach issues. Bodily pains will often show you how much emotional weight you are carrying.
This emotional weight is something we’ve been carrying all our lives. We’ve been packing a rucksack full of emotional rocks and carrying it on our backs for 20, 40, 60+ years. In 2020 with all the challenges we’ve faced and are still facing, we’ve taken on even more emotional weight, we’ve put even more rocks in our rucksack. Right now, it’s REALLY heavy. And that is taking its toll.
It’s time to lose that weight.
Feel it to heal it
Have you ever noticed how light you feel after a good cry? That’s because you took an emotional rock out of your rucksack. Have you noticed how relieved you feel when you have that honest conversation with someone and express your truth? That’s because you took an emotional rock out of your rucksack.
Expressing pent up emotions is healthy, natural, powerful and I’m going to teach you a way that you can do it entirely alone. Emptying your emotional rucksack is all about you and what you’re holding on to. You don’t need the object of your anger/ pain/ sadness etc. to be there with you. You don’t need anything in the outside world to ‘change’ or ‘receive’ or ‘respond to’ your emotions. You have the power to transmute it all by yourself.
Not only have I experienced this type of emotional weight loss in my own life with fantastic results, I’ve helped coaching clients to do the same and in a matter of minutes, they too are able to remove emotional rocks from their rucksack. It’s so freeing!
How not to deal with emotions
Before we get into the ‘how to’ of emotional weight loss let’s just clarify what we normally do which doesn’t work: we stuff our emotions back in. We ignore them, suppress them and we distract ourselves from them. We try to analyse them out of existence, fix them in our minds and project them onto other people and the world around us. We drown them in wine and cover them in food. We dress them up with a new handbag, a fancy car, another zero on our bank balance or another trophy for the mantlepiece. We have many creative strategies to try and ‘make ourselves feel better’ but unfortunately these strategies are useless. All they do is serve as sticky plasters which keep the pain pent up inside us, waiting for the next opportunity to rear its head.
Whilst we’re not going to get rid of our pains forevermore – and nor should we try to, emotions are part of who we are – we can handle them in a more healthy and helpful way. We can reduce their intensity and charge so that they don’t drive such dysfunctional behaviour as mentioned above.
The process for losing emotional weight
So here it is. When you’re feeling any difficult emotion, simply follow these steps:
1. Label your emotion
E.g. anger, sadness, depression, hopelessness, fear, frustration and so on.
2. Find it in the body
Scan your body and sense where this emotion is held. E.g. do you feel it in your chest? Is it in your shoulders or stomach? It could be anywhere, there is no right or wrong. Trust your bodily wisdom to tell you the answer.
3. Give it a score out of 10
How intense is this emotion out of 10? Don’t think about this, just answer intuitively.
4. Focus all your awareness on the part of your body that houses the emotion
If you’re unsure what this means, just try it now by focussing on any part of your body – your left foot, right hand, your nose, your back. Send your awareness to that area. That’s all there is to it.
5. Get curious about the emotion
Now that your awareness is focussed on the part of your body that holds the emotion, answer the following questions intuitively (there is no right or wrong answer and no judgement or analysis is required).
- Does your emotion have a colour, shape or size? If so, what is it?
- Is it moving?
- What if you were to touch it, what does it feel like?
- Does it have a temperature?
- Does it have a sound?
The answer to these questions could be anything at all. I’ve visualised rocks in my chest, rusty metal in my neck, heat and redness on my face. Yeah, it sounds bizarre and that might put you off – but you need to get over that if you want the gold at the end of this rainbow.
6. Just keep focussing on it. Watch it. Feel it.
7. A few minutes later ask again:
- Is it changing? Maybe it has turned from anger to sadness. Maybe it hasn’t. That’s fine, too.
- Is it moving, has it gone to another part of your body?
- What does it look/ feel/ sound like now?
- How strong is it out of 10?
8. Keep focussing on it. Watch it. Feel it.
You may have bodily expressions such as tears, rocking, facial expressions – this is all fine. What you resist persists so give these experiences space and allow them to be.
9. Continue to focus and check in every few minutes with question 7.
Follow your own intuition on how often you need to ‘check-in’. Don’t do it too frequently as this can over-engage your mind and take your focus away from the body. But also, don’t leave it too long as these check-in questions help you to maintain focus on the emotion.
10. Continue until you feel complete.
This process is about pure, non-judgemental observation with no need to ‘fix’ or ‘improve’ anything about yourself. It’s very important that you do it with that pure intention in mind. If you do, the end result is this: the emotion will dissipate. You will have taken an emotional rock out of your rucksack. You will have lost some emotional weight.
It sounds simple. It is.
Many of us are not used to ‘feeling our feelings’. Part of that is conditioning from our childhood and part of it is because our brain associates pain with death so, understandably it doesn’t want us to feel it. We have to train ourselves in this process of reconnecting with our body and not running away from our pain, not running away from ourselves. You might not get your emotional intensity to zero the first time, or every time. That’s OK. Just practise being in the body. Just practise feeling.
In terms of how long it takes to go through this process, you may spend 10, 30 even 60+ minutes in one sitting. It’s personal to you but there are no shortcuts.
When you start out with this process it can help to have someone guide you through it by reading out the questions above. Soon, you will be very adept at doing it alone.
If you do try this out I’d love to hear your experiences. Leave them in the comments.
Please note: this process should not replace consultation or treatment by a trained healthcare professional.
Find out more about Pinky and read her other articles HERE