Kathy’s Article In “Utah Cancer Connection” Magazine
Emotions play a primary role in our body’s response to fear. All of us experience emotions. What we each need to decide is whether we are a toilet or an outhouse. All of us have yucky emotions from time to time. Do we let them pile up and pile up until they feel like we are in an outhouse, or do we learn to flush them away and replace them with something clean and new. In this installment of Shifting from Fear to Peace, I will introduce you to ways that you can flush the negative emotions and replace them with the new, positive ones.
In the first 17 seconds that our brains receive a stimuli and experience a corresponding emotion, it has an involuntary response to that emotion. Following that, we are at choice. We can choose to continue to feel that emotion or we can choose to shift out of it into a different way of feeling. This is a vitally important skill because we can experience what is referred to as an ‘emotion addiction.’
Whenever the brain experiences a particular emotion, it concocts a specific ‘cocktail’ of brain chemicals. These chemicals then bathe the brain. Our brain becomes a creature of habit. If it continues to be bathed in the same cocktail day after day, it becomes very comfortable. This is referred to as ‘homeostasis’ – it feels like a normal way of being. If the brain is continually fed with the brain chemical cocktail of fear, it will actually crave things to fear so that it can get its ‘fix’. When you are not in the emotional state of fear, you will actually have a brain chemical withdrawal!
Let’s talk about other ways that you know it is time to start flushing some negative emotions. Do you ever experience the feeling of being flooded, like you are being drowned by your feelings? This makes a great deal of difference in whether you react to people or situations with irritation and anger or whether you are able to calmly respond. The emotions in our bodies don’t just disappear, instead, they pile up. If you have already filled your anger tank up to an 8 out of 10 without ever flushing, then when you experience an irritation you will be much more likely to explode with anger then if you are at a 1 or 2.
Or, do you feel as if you have a really bad sunburn? When someone barely touches you, you cringe in pain whereas if you had healthy skin you would be perfectly fine. Going through the shock and trauma of a cancer diagnosis can definitely give you a pretty bad ‘sunburn.’
Now we know how to tell if we have piled up negative emotions. What can we do to flush them away? I wish we could just wave a magic wand and command them all to be gone. There are actually many variations of this type of emotional work and they do work to a degree because of the power of positive thinking and the intention of the mind. I like to do the work on a more thorough and deeper level to facilitate a long-lasting effect. If the emotions aren’t processed and lessons learned from the experiences which originally brought them about, they will merely show up in our lives in different ways. This life is to be a growing, strengthening and refining process and that does require some effort to understand the inner workings of our emotions. If we sit and talk about our emotions, we will most likely feel better. But if we don’t go to the root of the emotion, it is like mowing down a field of weeds. It looks fine today, but sooner or later the weeds start popping back up if they haven’t been pulled from the root.
Emotions have energy in our bodies and they need to be acknowledged. Not only does the emotion need to be acknowledged, but the more we discover the how and whys in addition to the relationships involved, the more power we gain to overcome and control the emotional flooding that occurs. Have you ever been to a childhood home only to discover that it is much smaller than you had previously thought? The same is true of the emotional traumas we experience as children. As an adult, it might be totally dismissed, but to a child, an emotional upset can be devastating. When children experience hurtful situations, they have to make a decision as to how they are going to survive it. The decisions we make in times of high emotion become our rule of thumb from then on. Look back at some of your own childhood emotional traumas. Did you react by withdrawing, crying and pouting, attempting to please, rebelling? Chances are that you are reacting to your present day traumas in exactly the same way. Ask yourself how it served you because we all do what works for us. Then evaluate what it has cost you. With this knowledge you can decide if your way of reacting to emotional crises is still working for you and if you would like to make another choice.
Often the roots of our negative emotions are entangled with close family relationships, most likely a parent. We can live the rest of our lives retelling our story of victimhood concerning our childhoods, or we can visualize going back to our wounded child-self and bringing the situation to resolution so that we can emotionally move forward. I recommend going back to your child-self as the adult you are today. Look into the eyes of your inner wounded child and give her love and compassion. Let her know that she is going to survive and overcome and that you have come back to help her to heal her past pain. Let her know that this chapter of her life is complete and that she doesn’t have to stay alone in the past any longer. Give your inner child permission to speak her truth to whomever had offended or hurt her. Allow her the opportunity to see the situation from your adult perspective. Encourage her to set herself free by forgiving. Then, the most important part, watch her stand tall and reclaim her personal power and all broken pieces of her heart.
We may get stuck at a certain emotional age when we experience an emotional trauma. Your parent may be 60 years old chronologically, but still be a 13 year-old emotionally. The gap between our expectation because of their chronological age and the reality of their behavioral choices because of their emotional age is where the hurt and pain lie. When that gap is closed by adjusting your expectation to the reality through the perspective of your adult self, the wounded inner child can see things more clearly. We can never change the past, but we can change our perception of the past and that is powerful. Were you imprinted with false beliefs as a child such as: you aren’t good enough; if something bad happens to you, you deserve it; life works for everyone, but you; the world is a scary place? Ask yourself if these beliefs are true, are they really true? And if not, why let them control your emotions?
Now that you have spoken your truth, forgiven and freed yourself, reclaimed your personal power and confronted your false beliefs, you are ready to flush all of the associated negative emotions. Remember that the toilet doesn’t stay empty, but is refilled with fresh, clean water. When releasing negative emotions always fill the void with love and light. How do you release these negative emotions? The body can respond to symbolism quite easily. Here are a few examples:
- Hike to the top of a hill with a backpack filled with rocks. Assign each rock a negative emotion or burden and throw it as far as possible.
- Write down your negative emotions and burdens on a piece of paper and shred or burn it.
- Buy balloons, write your emotions on them, release them and watch them float away.
These are all effective ways of releasing negative emotions, but I find that they lack the power of surrendering your burdens to the Savior, Jesus Christ or to your higher power. In this way, they are not only released, but redeemed.
Shifting your emotions from fear to peace will lighten your load. May you feel the transformative power of flushing away the negative and refilling with the positive and truly feel free of your emotional burdens!