Imagine you are driving into work, knowingly 10 minutes late and scheduled to meet with your manager first thing. You decide to take a potential short cut and find yourself behind a car going 20 miles under the speed limit and making you even later than you already are. How do you see yourself reacting to this? Would you be beeping your horn impatiently, trying to coerce the driver into going faster? Yelling or gesturing vulgarities? Would you be having a major pity party shaking the steering wheel and crying “Why me? Why now?”
I ask this because our day to day life will always have stressors that pop up and it’s how we respond to them that reflects what kind of emotional baggage we may be carrying. Was your response angry? Frustrated? Hopeless? Disgusted? If so, chances are you need an emotional detox. Truly, everyone benefits from one periodically.
So many of us repress our emotions or get stuck in a certain phase. When we are hurt by someone or something it is easiest to ignore it and suppress it deep within or to get angry. Anger is a strong emotion that makes us feel in control and powerful so it’s hard to move away from anger to the other more vulnerable emotions like grief. It also takes little to no work at all to draw out your anger but to forgive, to experience and release, that takes lots of work to achieve.
An emotional detox allows you to rid yourself of toxic, stuck emotional patterns, barriers and stored traumas. By removing the negative baggage based in fear, anger, sadness, disgust, envy, and indignation you create room to add more joy, love, trust, anticipation, and kindness. This also results in achieving inner peace which is an exceptional reward for your hard work!
Here is what I do to emotionally detox.
Journaling/Automatic Writing to find the Root Cause
Just like with Functional Medicine, we are going to peel the onion of your emotional traumas so that you can get to the core of the matter. One of the best ways to do this is to journal about it. I favor automatic writing which is to write a question, phrase, or word and then just start writing without true conscious thought. Allow for whatever pops up to be written down and considered. As with any writing, try not to judge yourself and let it all out freely! You may come into this knowing you have work to do in certain areas for example if you are quick to anger, you know it’s a good place to start. You could ask a question like “Why am I so angry?” and then write down what comes to you from this question. Once you have something, ask yourself why you feel that way. Continue to write and continue to question until you get to the root of it. Once you get a deeper understanding of what needs to be worked out, you can go on to the next step in the detox.
Meditation/Visualization to Release Negative Emotions
Now that you have identified something to work out, the next step is to either meditate or reflect on a deep level how you feel about this. For example, if I journaled on “Why am I judgmental of certain people?” I may whittle it down to the fact that people I judge are those I’ve felt rejected by in the past. The rejection hurt, so I turned it into anger and judgment as a way of rejecting them in return. This is only toxic to me and needs to be experienced so it can be released. There are many guided meditations to help, but what I prefer is listening to calming music and picturing myself in a serene place like a meadow full of wild flowers and the sun shining down on me and warming me inside and out. In this place of beauty and warmth, I then invite the person for whom I have a negative emotional connection and I let them know how they hurt me. I allow myself to truly feel the hurt but let it go as I speak to them. As the words leave my body so does the hurt associated with it. You can also use this process to “talk” to a lost loved one or even your past self. Once I feel depleted of things to say, I envision a cord connecting the two of us, and I imagine a big pair of shears and cut the cord. I kindly ask them to leave and picture them out of my serene setting. I spend another few moments enjoying the meadow, with the warmth of the sun radiating on me and then I let myself slowly come back to consciousness. I always feel better after doing this but the work isn’t complete just yet and it may take several meditation/visualization sessions before you are ready to move on to the final step.
Forgiveness of Others and of Oneself
As rewarding as it feels to release yourself of these pent-up emotions and dissolve the negative association with that person, it doesn’t mean you’ve forgiven them. This is extremely important because if you don’t forgive the offender, the emotional baggage will return and you’ll have to work at it all over again. The cycle will not break until you can forgive. This is definitely not easy, especially because it is often assumed that if you forgive, it means you condone the action or offense. But that is not true. To forgive means that you are truly at peace and ready to move on without any attachment to the past hurt or trauma. You also have to find compassion for all involved including yourself and the offender. When I find myself struggling to forgive someone, I use a visualization technique where you envision the person as a toddler. Since we have innate patience and high tolerance for toddlers to make mistakes, it can make it easier to forgive the toddler version of the person for whom you want to forgive.
Tools to Help with Your Detox
Emotional detoxing is a lot of work and can feel yucky and uncomfortable at times. To help ease the process I like to wear or hold Rose Quartz which is especially helpful for grief, self-love, and has a great calming effect. Apache Tear is another type of stone that’s great for letting go and releasing repressed emotions. Rose and Geranium essential oil massaged over your heart and upper abdomen help you open your heart chakra and facilitate loving connections. I also take walks and spend as much time in nature as possible to help clear my head after a deep dive into my inner self.
Fill Up with the Good Stuff
After you’ve completed your emotional detox, it’s time to fill up the empty space you’ve created with things that bring you joy and revitalize you. Laugh. Watch a funny movie or read a funny, light hearted book. Move your body. Dance in the kitchen while you make your breakfast or grab a hoola-hoop and twirl around outside. Listen to upbeat music while you get ready or on your morning commute; talk to a friend or spend time with your family as this is a great time to make or foster loving connections.
Years ago, I was the girl who was honking my horn, yelling a very creative string of profanities while shaking my steering wheel crying out “Why me?” and I was doing this almost daily on my morning commute. I had no idea how much emotional baggage I had stored up, allowing it to crush me from the inside out. It’s hard to believe how far I’ve come and how different I live now. I certainly put in a lot of work but it has been the most rewarding experience. I’m told I live in a bliss bubble, that I’m always positive and happy and what makes that so good to hear is that is truly a reflection of how I feel. I no longer let my past define me or weigh me down. I am no longer poisoned with anger, indignation, shame or haunted by old hurts. I feel light, bright and free to enjoy my daily life. I encourage you to join me in this bliss!