“My boss is a pain in the neck”
“She is super hot-headed”
“I got the weight of the world on my shoulders”
“Why did I cry during my massage”
“I often get a tight feeling in my chest when I have to talk to my ex-husband”
The phrases and experiences above aren’t just random expressions or feelings. Emotions and trauma can be “trapped” in your body as emotional baggage. This effect can lead to body pains, sickness, and diseases. This is why Essential #3 is Balance Your Energy, and Essential #4 is Heal Your Emotional Wounds are so important.. The foundation of your body is energy, and emotions are just “energy in motion” that has become stuck. This feeling can truly make someone feel heavy, less mobile, and exhausted, embodying the term “emotional baggage.” This “baggage” can take you on a journey of negatively affecting how you think about yourself and your relationships with others, how you react to stress, and damaging your physical body.
Mark Olson, Ph.D., LMT, the owner, and director of the Pacific Center for Awareness & Bodywork, states that activating certain body areas may trigger these unhealed memories. This process occurs in the limbic structures of the brain.
“Emotions are constantly being generated — subconsciously or consciously — in response to the reactivation of memories or unsatisfied goals,” Olson says. “The touch to X area is simply a reliable stimulus to reconstruct the pattern associated with that traumatic event.”
The context for the brain graphic above: Main effect of task (across groups) on bilateral amygdala functional connectivity. Increases (red) and decreases (blue) of amygdala functional connectivity in the emotion condition compared to the control condition.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s time to leave some baggage behind and ride off into the sunset of healing! Let’s go on a journey to lighten up your load!
You Can Unpack And Break Free From The Emotional Baggage!
We are fortunate to live in a time where world-class researchers are systematically studying the mind-body connection and people’s responses to overwhelming experiences. It is well documented that trauma is stored in the somatic memory and expressed as changes in biological stress responses. Please keep reading for a brief exploration of where trauma and emotions get trapped in your body. As you know, I am a woman of solutions, so I won’t just tell you what is wrong without offering healing actions. Once you know better, you can do better. At the end of this article, I offer a few suggestions on releasing trapped pain before it harms your emotional, mental, and physical body.
How Do Emotions Become “Trapped” or “Baggage”?
Nathaniel Branden, the founder of The Psychology of Self-Esteem, insists that we must accept all our feelings without censorship; we should never disown, deny or repress any part of our experience. To deny our feelings is to keep ourselves in a perpetual state of internal conflict (AKA leading you to chronic stress, adrenal fatigue, and diseases).
The more you distance yourself from your feelings, the more disempowered and out of touch with your true self. However, you can’t run from feelings/emotions/trauma you don’t want to face. They will just turn into bigger physical and mental problems.
“The phrase ‘trapped emotions’ usually means that the true self wants to express something that the false self doesn’t want us to express,” Mark Olson says. “In psychology, we think of the true self as the part of us that we are born with that is naturally open, curious, and trusting, while the false self emerges as a set of adaptive strategies to deal with pain and loss.”
Feelings of resentment, bad decisions, self-sabotage, overreacting, increased depression or anxiety, and fatigue are warning signs of repressed negative emotional energy.
Inner Child Trauma Healing
A part of listening and empowering your true self also means lovingly connecting with the “little girl” living inside of you. Many of us (ok, let’s be real—ALL of us) have unresolved issues from our childhoods. Our subconscious reactions are often from what we endured growing up and have yet to process and heal.
As adults, we sometimes overreact and don’t consciously understand why we do certain things. It is our hurt inner child surfacing and acting out. Before reading the rest of this article, please take a few minutes to read (and let it sink in) this article on Healing Your Inner Child To Enhance Your Healing Journey. Getting in touch with your inner child helps you physically and emotionally tap into how you felt during specific events at a specific age.
Where Are Emotions Trapped In Our Bodies?
While every person’s experience with the emotion-body connection is unique, there are some general areas where emotions tend to trap themselves. The info in the following sections has been acquired from Sean Grover LCSW’s work and this study led by a team of Finnish biomedical engineers.
Back and arms = Anger.
To relieve this tension, it can be helpful to articulate frustration constructively and address conflicts with others at the moment. Also, strive to convert anger into a creative force or just let it go because anger is just hurting you.
Neck and shoulder tension = Burdens and responsibilities.
One of the main “cancer personality traits” is: “Exhibits a strong tendency toward caring for other people’s burdens and toward taking on extra obligations, and often “worrying for others.” One of the healthiest things you can do is to “not do it all!” For your neck, shoulders, and breasts’ sake—please start delegating! Ask for support, decide what is worth taking on, and SHARE THE RESPONSIBILITIES!
Heart and chest = Hurt.
A ‘broken heart” is both a figurative and literal symptom of grief, loss, and trauma. If you ignore a painful experience in your life, such as a breakup or loss of a loved one, and do not properly mourn and heal, it can result in physical pains or even become a reason the breast cancer developed.
Stomach and intestines = Fear.
The more you deny or repress fears, the more physical reactions you’re likely to manifest. To soften fear’s hold over you, express it creatively. Another way is to surround yourself with people who encourage you to be brave. Here’s an excellent blog post on how NOT to let fear impact your breast cancer healing journey.
Remember, when facing fear, you can either: Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything, And Rise.
Fatigue = Resentments.
Resentment stresses your entire body and does more damage to you than the people you resent. Playing the victim, reliving the events until you go crazy, and blaming others can break your adrenals down and cause the cancer cells to grow. Don’t give people free real estate in your head. Instead, focus on forgiveness—even if it is just so you can move on.
Say BYE To Your Emotional Baggage!
Are you ready to unstuck yourself and leave your heavy bags of anger and trauma at the baggage claim?
- Somatic experiencing: Intentional dance, stretching, qi gong, tai chi, meditative walking, etc., release unprocessed tension or emotions while helping your brain recognize the difference between tension and relaxation.
- Meditation: Here’s a helpful blog post about breast cancer and meditation.
- Mind-body healing of a specific event: New German Medicine (blog) EFT and Recall Healing are helpful tools.
- Supplementing your adrenal health: Adrenal Calm can rejuvenate your adrenals. Learn more in this blog post.
Only YOU can do the work to release trauma and harmful emotions. But you are in the right place to find support, insights, tools, and tips—as this article is brimming with resources. Listening to these two podcast episodes can be an empowering way to start: How Solving Past Trauma Can Help Heal Cancer, and A Balanced Nervous System Supports Cancer Healing.