Have you ever sat with a friend and they keep going over the same old negative stuff and don’t seem to be able to get past it?
Have you tried talking about a past issue, made some progress and feel like you have hit a wall in working it all out?
Can you openly talk about “it” without getting emotional but you think about “it” every waking moment with no respite when you are asleep?
Is everyone telling you to “get over it” and “it’s time you moved on” but it’s still stuck in your story and you feel like there must be something wrong with you?
Talking about past hurts and trauma is great and can help a lot of people and sometimes though it is not enough. Sometimes talking about it doesn’t bring the relief you thought it would or it only takes you so far.
That’s because your body still remembers what if felt like at the time.
Every experience we have from pure joy to absolute trauma invokes an emotional response which gets stored in your body at the cellular level. For example, when we experience the exhilaration of climbing to the top of a mountain or the warmth of a loved ones hug our body remembers elation, laughter, joy, love. Physically we stand tall, are relaxed, and feel pretty good with a warm glow spreading in our bodies when we recall the moment.
At the other end of the spectrum, for example after falling of a bike, being bullied or when any traumatic event in life occurs our body stores the memory of the fear, pain, anxiety, helplessness. This is especially so if you are not allowed to or cannot express your emotions at the time it happened. You may have been told to stop crying or you don’t show your emotions because it was what you had to do at the time to survive. You just swallow hard and move on.
Then later in life something happens that triggers the unconscious memory of the incident and for no apparent reason we can physically cower, retract, get smaller, feel sick, break out into a cold sweat and sometimes this may even manifest as daily physical pain or illness. We are not sure why this is happening and may not even consciously link it to what happened in the past.
In my own experience I know this to be true.
At age 11 I went on a school excursion to Katoomba and went on the vertical train. My only memory of that ride was the feeling of sheer terror as we proceeded over the cliff. It felt like I was going to fall out and I didn’t feel safe. I remember my knuckles going white as I gripped the “safety” bar and my jaw clamped shut as I held my breath. I was terrified! Everyone else was giggling with excitement.
Big deal you say.
Well 40 years later, I revisited Katoomba with a great friend and she was keen to go on the train and the cable car. I wasn’t keen about the thought of the train, and in the weeks leading up to the trip I avoided committing to taking the ride. The day came and we paid for our ticket (“oh no” I was thinking) and I reluctantly followed my friend to the starting gate. She was squealing with delight as we were first in line which meant we would be at the front (the first to go over) and she wanted to tilt the seat for maximum vision as we went head first down the cliff (more likely to fall out)!!
Inside my heart was pounding, I had a feeling of dread and my body was reliving that terrifying experience exactly the same way as it did back when I was 11.
Before we took off she finally noticed how quiet and tense I was. “What’s up?” she asked. “I am freaking out” I replied through clenched teeth. “What!!!??, you go over cliffs all the time when abseiling, what’s the matter?”
Okay, so you might think that was pretty lame. Not for me it wasn’t. And what that taught me was that even though your mind can rationalise and work through the logic when recalling past events, unless your body is cleared of the emotional energy related to the incident it can come rushing back when you least want it to.
We have been taught to suppress our emotions
The trouble is we have been conditioned by Western culture to bury our emotions and not to get “emotional”. Society favours being logical, talking it through and leading with our head instead of our heart. Unfortunately, our emotions just don’t go away, instead they get pushed down into the unconscious and get stored in our bodies as negative energy. They hang around there until something triggers the memory and out they come again.
For example, I met a man who has a fear of cockroaches and panics and cowers as far away from the cockroach as he can get whenever he comes into the vicinity of one. He gets tense and his eyes glaze over with fear and he starts breathing rapidly. Logically, anyone watching could say “just stomp on it”.
That is easier said than done for him. When he was a child he had climbed into a pipe that was infested with cockroaches and now each time he sees a cockroach his body’s cellular memory of that moment is recalled and he is reliving the emotional response he had when the feeling of thousands of tiny legs were crawling over him and he was overwhelmed and in panic. No room for logic there. As a boy he was ridiculed and laughed at and told just to “get over it” so he held in the fear which over time turned into something that stayed with him for life.
There is no point trying to talk through the fact that he is much bigger and has the power to ignore it or dispose of it quickly. His body memory takes over and he goes into auto response mode, his fear is not rational in everyone else eyes yet his body is locked in the point of time when he was fully in that moment.
You can heal our emotions around past trauma by releasing the stored energy associated with them.
These are just a few examples of how the emotional charge of trauma can be pushed into your unconscious and stay stored in your body’s cellular memory. Your specific trauma will be different and may be much more painful and will have a different response.
The good news is that it possible to release the energy and experience resolution around the past trauma in your present life.
Breathwork is a breathing technique that uses conscious connected breathing (CCB). It is one of the most powerful, self-generated, transformational tools we have to access our own essence and potential through the use of our own breath. Breathwork seeks to bring about a deeper connection and understanding of your Self, so that you can be fully aware, fully alive and free from the emotions, fears and self-sabotaging patterns that have been limiting you up to now.
Breathwork is not about forgetting about or burying the past, it’s about being able to remember without triggering a deluge of tears, anger, hurt or any other emotion that you may have felt at the time. It’s about releasing the emotional energy around the memory and leaving it in the past so you can move forward without dragging it along with you anymore.
When you can remember without the pain, it doesn’t come up as an issue for you anymore. No more talking about it because it is not impacting how you act any longer.
So if you are sick of hearing yourself talk about the same old “stuff”, thought you were “over it” and still “it” keeps coming back to haunt you, one option may be get connected to what your body has stored around “it”.
When you are done talking – breathe.
Releasing trauma in this way is best done with a qualified Breathwork Practitioner who will facilitate the process in a safe and non-judgemental environment. You can find a Breathwork Practitioner in your area here.
Jennylee Taylor is Life Coach and Breathwork Practitioner supporting and empowering you to be great managers of your world through reducing stress and overwhelm, and balancing life so you can enjoy loving relationships, contentment now and financial security in your future.
Jennylee supports people to break through personal emotional and mindset barriers so you can be the best you in the world and achieve your goals. Jennylee also coaches in the Design a Decade Life Management Program using a set of tools which support you to design and achieve your aspirations and goals for your next decade.
Would you like more info? Feel free to contact me for a chat
My passions are nature, people, and building cultures of cooperation, harmony, sharing and reverence for life. I enjoy working with people to help them understand themselves and others so they can reach their full potential in life.