We may think that we are “over” something happens to us. But our bodies might never get the message. Our brains and our bodies don’t always talk to one another. To be free of a difficult event, we might need to midwife that stressor out of ourselves.
In our brains, the actual stressor is separate from the stress. The cognitive brain thinks that if a stressful situation is complete, the moment is over. But Emily & Amelia Nagoski demonstrate that the stress response does not know to stop the emotions of fear, grief, and shame.
Brain scans are teaching us that emotions are chemical reactions that affect every organ of the body. While we tend to think of ourselves as highly rational, this neuroscience research show us all to be highly emotional, with the cognitive brain not having any ability to “control” these emotions.
Stuck emotions in our bodies show up as health issues including anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and infection. They lead us to numb ourselves through harmful behaviors such as overeating and substance abuse. And they work their way into our relationships when we blame others for the unsettled emotions stuck inside ourselves.
Friends, we’ve gotta get that nasty stuff out of our bodies. The scientific phrase for this process is “attending to the stress response itself.” Viewing these triggers as a gift or recognition of the work that needs to be done. It is only by moving through the dark parts of ourselves that we can feel free enough to be the fullest version of oneself.
Getting rid of the stress response involves intentionally releasing trapped energy in your body. All processes for doing so involve tapping into your body:
-Spend five minutes taking slow, deep breaths. Even better, try a version of yogic breathing.
– Laugh or cry heartily until you feel a release.
-Drum with the intention of pulling heavy vibrations into lighter vibrations. You can just use your thighs and your hands to shift your energy, as Jim Donovan teaches.
Seek out a loved one to hug. Tightly. For at least thirty seconds.
Get a massage or other body work. Use a foam roller to massage yourself–notice where you have tightness, sore spots and lean into them.
Trauma is the deepest version of bodies embedding stress responses. When it feels like the inner critic cannot let go and the emotions feel much bigger than an immediate situation at hand, it might signal that an underlying trauma. If paralysis, fear, sadness feels bigger than one can handle, it is an opportunity to work with a helping professional to move through these experiences toward a path of healing.The memories of the trauma will never disappear, but they can become a part of one’s history and rather than taking hostage of the present.