In the ten years I have been practicing holistic mental health therapy in Charlotte, one of the most common questions I get is “I thought I was over that [issue]…why do I continue to struggle with it?”
When we live in a world where everything is expected to be accomplished now, there becomes this unrealistic and irrational expectation that we are supposed to have it all figured out and it must be figured out now. If we don’t have it figured out, we risk judgment and we are left feeling less than.
As a parent, you have a tendency to feel as though you’re “supposed to” have all of the answers to your child’s questions or at least have ideas regarding how to fix the problem.
As your parent’s child, you just want to please your parents no matter how old you become.
As an employee, you want to do your job well so that you can receive the appropriate recognition as well as the rewards accompany such recognition.
The truth is that we’re all human and none of us have all of the answers nor are we perfect. The fact that we continue to struggle with similar issues time and time again is simply a symptom of being human.
It is also indicative of energy from past similar experiences that has been stored in the body that needs to be released. This energy is released through the method of processing.
Here are some examples of how to tell when something is not fully processed:
You seem to always pick the same type of partner even though you know this type is not good for you
You choose similar job positions in spite of the heavy work and/or stress load and struggle to understand why or how you always wind up in positions like this
You tend to hold grudges and find it difficult to forgive others who you feel have wronged you or those close to you. We tend to hold onto things that have not fully been digested (or maybe they hang onto us!) leading to emotional and/or physical upset. This causes us to act out in a variety of ways with the purpose of trying to release this trapped negative energy that keeps us in a holding pattern.
We act out in the following ways:
blaming and/or resentment towards others
self-criticism, blaming yourself
violence and/or aggression
having little to no patience
engaging in risky behaviors/taking miscalculated risks often
How do I release the negative energy?
There are a variety of ways this negative energy can be released, here are a few examples:
Vigorous exercise (i.e. high impact aerobics, running, sports, etc. – anything that elevates the heart rate into cardio zone and remains there for an extended period of time). This helps to physically remove the tension and stress from your organs allowing them to function more efficiently…including the brain!
Bodywork Connect with a knowledgeable body worker (i.e. massage therapist, kinesthesiologist, energy worker, etc) who has expertise in knowing and navigating how the body holds onto and lets go of emotions as well as which techniques can be used to release pent up or blocked energy. Depending on which professional you use, there are choices for both hands-on and hands-off therapies.
Depth-oriented psychotherapy Techniques such as mindfulness, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), neurofeedback, and somatic experiencing are a just a few approaches that are designed to work with the deeper layers of consciousness and aid in processing stuck emotions.
How to tell when something is fully processed
Sometimes we may think that we have fully processed an issue only to find that it has come up again! This can be very frustrating when you feel as though you have already put so much time, energy, effort, and most likely, money, into trying to work through your deepest, most difficult issues.
An issue has been fully processed when:
It no longer creates emotional and/or physical distress when you think about it
You are able to talk about it without becoming overwhelmed by negative feelings while thinking and/or talking about the issue (some negative feelings are normal).
The symptoms that used to appear while thinking and/or talking about the issue have decreased in frequency, duration, and severity (i.e. you experience less physical pain, your heart rate no longer increases, you no longer get sweaty palms, you no longer “freak out”).
You’re able to laugh about the issue WITHOUT also crying on the inside. Humor can be used as a defense mechanism but can be used to lighten your mood and release tension
The importance of mindset
The most important factor to remember here is mindset.
If you are of the mindset that simply because you’ve worked on a certain issue that it SHOULD be gone, this is the type of mindset that is likely setting you up for failure time and time again and keeping you tied to the issue.
A more efficient mindset is to greet each reoccurrence of the issue with gratitude and acceptance:
Thank the problem for revealing itself to you and see it as a sign of letting you know that there is more work to be done. If you don’t recognize your negative behavior and emotions as a signal of something deeper, it becomes easier to blame others as well as yourself. Break free of this pattern by sending positivity to the negative through affirmations, prayer, meditation, or simply practice replacing negative statements with positive ones.
Try not to judge the manner in which this sign has occurred but rather focus on what it is trying to tell you. Perhaps you need to reconnect with a long lost family member and make amends. Perhaps you simply need to engage in a hobby to get out of your head more often. When we remove the judgment, there is more room for productive information to make its way through. Again, the focus is on what you do in reaction to the initial behavior not the initial behavior itself.
Finally, practice accepting that if you have air in your lungs, you will have problems. Further, it is entirely possible that you just might battle similar issues throughout your life; the central issue may continue to endure but it will simply show up in different ways. We will never be free of suffering so we might as well learn the best ways to manage it.
When to get help
Because no one is exempt from suffering (except those who have achieved Enlightened), it is safe to say that we all struggle. There is no shame in asking for help to get through difficult times. Sometimes it is necessary to have a local therapist, an objective third party, to help you identify unhealthy patterns and the ways in which this stuck energy continues to manifest.
Connect with a holistic mental health therapist in Charlotte, NC and start learning about some of the aforementioned techniques to begin feeling better today.
Contact Blue Sage Counseling and Wellness and start feeling better today!
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