In the initial stages of a break up, it’s incredibly difficult to focus on anything but the pain. So early on, our defense mechanisms will likely be, finding a way to distract, or numb ourselves, from such intense feelings. But once the shock has subsided somewhat, and we’re seeing things a little more clearly, it’s important to heal ourselves from the grief energy that we’ve been holding onto.
This is a very difficult process for a lot of people. They don’t want to feel their feelings and some people have gotten very good at bottling theirs up and not dealing with them at all. Time is a factor when dealing with pain, with time emotional pain will lessen, but it doesn’t heal. Only through feeling your feelings and releasing the grief energy, can we do that.
My father has been gone now for a long time. He died when I was 18, time took care of the pain I was feeling, but every time I watch a movie, or see a show that deals with the death of a father I get choked up. When I watch The Lion King I have a hard time keeping it together. I get a pain in my chest, a lump in my throat and I’m focusing all my energy on not crying. The strange thing is – it’s automatic. Anytime I see that dynamic I’m fighting those feelings – why? Because I never dealt with them. I shoved them deep, deep down and distracted myself until it stopped hurting.
“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know. If we run a hundred miles an hour, to the other end of the continent, in order to get away from the obstacle, we find the very same problem waiting for us when we arrive. It just keeps returning with new names, forms and manifestations.” – Pema Chodron
We are a society that likes to distract ourselves and then we wonder why we keep repeating the same patterns over and over. We drink, take drugs, eat, throw ourselves into things, all in the name of not dealing with our emotions. All we know is that we feel bad and we don’t want to feel bad any more, so we self-medicate. We know that it is only a temporary solution, that as soon as xyz wears off we’ll need to consume more medicine, but we prefer feeling numb, to feeling our feelings. How f’ed up is that?
Somewhere along the way we got the message that being emotional wasn’t okay, that crying, that feeling anything, meant that we were weak. So we learned to suppress what we feel.
When I was 16 I experienced a serious emotional trauma. I didn’t want to deal with it, nor did I know how, so I tucked it away in the farthest part of my mind, never to think of it again. Even now, when I try to recall the event, it’s so hazy that I wonder if it ever really happened at all. I had the same problem with recall even a year after it happened – what happened to the memory? Where did it go? How does it affect me now? This is suppression to the extreme, but the mind is such an incredible thing, the full extent of its abilities still eludes our understanding.
We have all experienced events in our life that have hurt us and when we don’t deal with them properly they can turn into future triggers and every time we run into a trigger our nervous system reacts like the trauma is happening all over again. Have you even been in a crowd and from behind you see your ex (the one that hurt you deeply). Your heart starts racing, you feel your emotions soaring to the surface, you feel fear and anxiety – it’s almost a form of Post-Traumatic Stress. You’re trying to figure out what to do – do you run away? Do you confront them? Then they turn around and it’s not them. Or you’re driving in your car and you see the black pickup truck. Your PTS kicks in and as they drive by you realize it’s not their truck and it’s not them. So every time you drive by a black pickup now those feelings are going to come to the surface.
We all have a choice to make. We can walk around trying to avoid all of our triggers, or we can take the steps and heal them, so that they are no longer triggers.
Releasing Your Grief Energy
I’m sure most of us have heard the old adage, “It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you react to it,” by the ancient Greek Philosopher Epictetus. How we deal with traumatic events is an excellent indicator on where we are on the emotional health scale. Do we internalize, do we take responsibility when it isn’t ours, do we minimize, do we rationalize, do we self-medicate, do we ignore what happens to us and suppress our feelings?
The bottom line is – the only way to get past your pain is through it. I’ve read a lot of books, all with varying exercises on how to heal and grieve. I don’t know if all or any of them helped, so I’ve compiled a list of exercises that I personally used to let go of my pain and grief.
I sat alone on the floor of my Livingroom and just allowed myself to feel my feelings: I went toe to toe with my fear, my pain and all of the anguish inside of me. I sat with it. I marinated in it. I allowed myself to just feel and feel everything. It hurt, it was painful. I was really emotional. I cried for the little girl who was made to feel broken and not good enough. I cried for her when she lost her daddy and I cried for her when she kept looking for someone, anyone to love her and no one did. I felt the fear of being completely alone. I let the fear of not being able to make it financially float all around me and through me. What happened? I got comfortable with feeling. I understood at the end of it that I was so much bigger than all of this pain and fear. I knew it didn’t have the power to defeat me. The experience left me feeling empowered and I felt a huge burden being lifted from my shoulders.
I wrote letters: I wrote a letter to my mother, who abused me. I wrote a letter to my ex-Narcissist ,who hurt and abandoned me. I told them exactly how and how much they had hurt me. I told them I was so angry with them for what they had done and that I didn’t deserve what they did to me. I got everything I need to say out and then I burned the letters. The therapy is in the expression, in the release of saying what our broken heart needed to get out. The letter isn’t for them, it’s for us, because we will never get the response, or the closure we need from other people. It’s up to us to give ourselves what we need and writing out, acknowledging and detailing our grief, is a good way of helping us to release it. Burning them was a little ritual that helped me to let it go.
I began to meditate: I had been feeling bad for so long I didn’t even know how to feel good. So I used my imagination. I kept hearing, “Your mind can’t tell if it’s real or not,” so I manufactured the feeling of joy and I sat in a quiet room and relaxed and just felt what joy felt like. I inhaled joy and felt completely relaxed. And through various different exercises I would inhale joy and exhale sadness, sorrow, grief, pain and I would visualize it leaving my body. I would feel so good and relaxed afterwords that I made it a daily routine. It only takes a few minutes and I can do it whenever I want. The difference is now when I inhale joy I exhale joy to all the world. This exercise raises your vibration and sets the tone for your day.
I got creative: I’m not artsy by nature. I can’t draw, or paint, or play an instrument, but I can write. I wrote poetry and I tried my hand at various artistic endeavors. It’s cathartic to express yourself through art. Some of the greatest works have come from this emotional exercise. Creating is empowering and it allows your spirit to work through you.
I prayed: I asked God, the Universe, spirit – whatever you want to call it – I asked it to release me from this burden, from this baggage, from the pain and the hurt. And I asked to be shown how to heal and how to find the right path and a way in which I could help other people.
When we bottle up our emotions and we don’t deal with them, all that does is stall our healing. It puts our grief in a different place, only to have it bubble up as soon as something triggers a memory, a feeling, or a thought that we haven’t released. Releasing our grief energy is one of the most important steps on the way to emotional health – it’s an easy one to bypass, but by doing so, you continue lugging around all of your baggage and you run the risk of having it surface when you least want it to. Instead, do the work, try these exercises, release your grief energy and continue on your path.
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Image courtesy of arztsamui at freedigitalphotos.net