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Practicing Emotional Hygiene

HygieneLast week I wrote about the possibility of our emotions having an impact on our physical health. I shared how Chinese Medicine draws direct correlations between organs that seem to be affected by difficult emotions, especially when these emotions are repressed.

I believe where emotions are stored or processed in any given person is a highly individual experience. (Like my client with Crohn’s disease, stress and grief being held in his colon.) And last week I offered a few prompting questions for you to start exploring what possible emotions might be a part of your unique health challenges. Did you try it?  What did you discover?

Here are a few examples of some of the connections that Louise Hay makes between specific ailments and emotions:

  • Middle of the back issues:  Guilt.
  • Cholesterol: clogging the channels of joy. Fear of accepting joy.
  • Heartburn: Fear.
  • Cellulite: Stored anger.
  • Knee problems: Inflexibility, stubbornness. Fear of moving forward.
  • Psoriasis: Fear of being hurt.
  • Etc., etc.

Again, this can vary from person to person, but they’re good examples of how chronic conditions can be linked with unresolved emotional states.

Once you identify the emotion, what do you do about it?

Essentially you need to practice a little emotional hygiene.  The challenge is that in many cases, the emotions that are stuck and causing health issues are usually precisely the specific emotions that you might have difficulty with.

For example, years ago when I had really bad acne, I looked it up in Louise Hay’s book and discovered that acne could be about “dislike of the self” and blackheads were “small outbursts of anger.” It was not hard to feel the truth about disliking myself because it was hard to like myself with my huge skin issues.

The error in my thinking was that I thought I disliked myself because of my skin, when in reality it was the reverse. My skin was expressing my dislike!  Obviously there was a combination of factors causing my acne too; like liver and colon toxicity that I needed to address. But whether my liver and colon toxicity manifested as acne instead of eczema, or food allergies, I believe had everything to do with my emotional state.

Now, the “small outburst of anger” explanation was harder to connect with. You see, I had always taken pride in saying that I was not an angry person. I used to believe that I never got angry and therefore the idea of small outburst of anger seemed wholly foreign to me. Ah ha! There was the nugget for me to chew on: I was so good at repressing anger that I rarely felt it and it went straight to my face!

And if we listen to Chinese Medicine (as I mentioned in the previous blog post), then all of that suppressed anger was also congesting my liver. So it was a perfect storm of foods and emotions that were creating the atmosphere for my acne to erupt.

Practicing Emotional Hygiene

Once you start identifying the possible emotions that might be stuck, you need to help yourself move them out. There are many ways to do this; but these are my 3 favorite strategies because they are both easily accessible and hugely effective:

  • Journaling – this is a wonderful tool to slow down the speed of your thought process and allow yourself to dive deeper into any experience. Writing about the emotions; what they might be about; when you’ve experienced them; when you’ve denied yourself feeling them; who or what do you most strongly associate with that emotion; what judgments you have about that emotion… etc.  Journaling can be quite cathartic.
  • Talking to a friend, partner or therapist – extroverted people get huge relief from speaking about their emotions. If you’re of an extroverted nature, perhaps you can start talking to a good friend or your partner about the possibility that you might have these emotions tied to your physical challenges. It can open up the floodgates for you to experience those feelings. In some cases, if it is a very charged set of feelings or memories, you may very well need the support of a therapist or an EFT practitioner.
  • Doing EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) – this is a powerful tool that allows for very rapid experiencing, processing and relieving stuck and difficult emotions. I have been practicing EFT for years and the more time passes, the more I use it both for myself and in my practice. It is impossible to explain in a blog post, but you can look it up.  You can learn to do it for yourself or you can find an EFT practitioner to help you with it.

When you tap into the core of your stuck feelings and effectively process them you will likely experience immediate relief. Like my client with Crohn’s Disease (who I mentioned in the previous blog,) once we used EFT to tap into the stuck grief and stress, his pain went immediately down from a 4-5 to a 1. In the days that followed, he had his first pain-free days in years!

Daily Hygiene

You take a shower every day. You wash your hands every time you go to the bathroom. You brush your teeth and floss, etc. What are you doing on a daily basis to keep your emotional “body” clean?

Every day we build up some clutter of our own little emotions –from the traffic jam, the work frustrations, the kid who forgot his homework, the issues at home that need resolving, the bills, someone else’s gunk, etc. etc. If you don’t “wash” these off, they can build just like plaque on your teeth.  They’ll give you gray hairs, wrinkles, heartburn and stiff joints… etc.

Practicing a little daily emotional hygiene will go a long way to keep you healthy. Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Turn off the news
  • Take a shower at the end of the day and visualize washing the stressors of the day off your body and going into the drain
  • Get vigorous exercise regularly – exercise moves emotion
  • Meditate
  • Journal daily
  • Express feelings that you’ve been holding in
  • Practice 5-10 minutes of EFT daily
  • Do laughter yoga

If you’re interested in exploring more about this, let me know. I’d be happy to help.

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