Let it go, let it go . . . can’t hold it back anymore

mind body spirit tulip

I have been studying the fascinating link between our emotions and our physical health lately. Did you know that it is estimated that 80% of the trips to doctors’ offices are the result of stress-related conditions? Many people have so repressed, denied, and stuffed their emotions that they don’t even recognize them anymore. Trying to stop or block our emotions doesn’t work since the very nature of emotions is movement! In fact the Latin roots of the word emotion mean e (out) + movere (move).

Emotions are meant to be expressed and move through us not stay stuck inside us.

dandelion root

Lucia Capacchione, PhD, in The Art of Emotional Healing compares suppressing and repressing our feelings to  “a variety of bamboo that spreads through a massive network of underground branching roots. We cut our emotions down here only to have them show up yards away, through the concrete, gravel, and bricks of our life.”  This reminds me of yanking out the top of dandelions only to discover that the tap root has grown deeper and larger than ever!

I think most of us were taught that emotions are located only in the mind, but if we think about it we also feel them in our body. Think about sayings such as: pain in the neck, butterflies in my stomach, and jumping for joy.  Candace Pert, Ph.D. was an internationally recognized psychopharmacologist who taught and researched emotions and the mind-body connection and found that  if the outward expression does not match the inner emotion being felt – in other words if a person is being incongruent – a conflict is set up in the body that drains energy away from the vital organs. In her book, Molecules of Emotion she wrote:

My research has shown me that when emotions are expressed  – which is to say that the biochemicals that are the substrate of emotion are flowing freely – all systems are united and made whole. When emotions are repressed, denied, not allowed to be whatever they may be, our network pathways get blocked, stopping the flow of the vital feel-good unifying chemicals that run both our biology and our behavior. This, I believe, is the state of unhealed feeling that we want so desperately to escape from. Drugs, legal or illegal, are further interrupting the many feedback loops that allow the psychosomatic network to function in a natural balanced way, and therefore setting up conditions for somatic as well as mental disorders.

So what should we do?

1. Learn to recognize your emotions.

When my kids were toddlers, I learned the HALT acronym for helping identify how kids were feeling: hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. This is a simple way to try to problem-solve with kids, but things can get more complicated when you grow up! Lucia Capacchione breaks emotions down into nine basic categories with lots of different iterations. This is not an exhaustive list of feelings, but it’s a pretty good start. Take a minute to identify how you are feeling right now using this list or one of the following graphics.

  • Happy: blissful, delighted, enthusiastic, excited, glad, gleeful, grateful, joyful
  • Sad: discouraged, disheartened, down, gloomy, grieving, hurt, lonely, melancholy
  • Angry: agitated, bitter, enraged, exasperated, furious, irritated, mad, resentful
  • Afraid: anxious, fearful, horrified, nervous, panicked, scared, shaky, terrified
  • Playful: adventurous, childlike, creative, free, lighthearted, lively, spontaneous, whimsical
  • Loving: affectionate, compassionate, friendly, kind, nurturing, tender, trusting, warm
  • Confused: ambivalent, bewildered, conflicted, hesitant, perplexed, torn, troubled, uneasy
  • Depressed: burned out, dejected, despondent, helpless, hopeless, listless, weary, withdrawn
  • Peaceful: calm, contented, relaxed, quiet, satisfied, serene, tranquil

emotions-cone    emotions words

2. Decide on a way to express your feelings so they can flow through you naturally.

A few ideas are talking to a friend, writing in your journal, praying, writing a letter, meditating, punching a pillow, doing a painting, or dancing.  One way of consistently keeping in touch with your emotional state is by journaling. I like to do morning pages as taught by Julia Cameron of The Artist’s Way. Basically this involves sitting down first thing in the morning to write an unedited and uncensored flow of our consciousness. Anything in your mind is poured out onto the pages without judgment or too much thought. She recommends writing three pages because she says it takes about a page and a half to get to the good stuff. She stresses the importance of doing this the first thing in the morning before you are too awake in order to capture the part of your mind that can get pushed to back once the busyness of the day and all the mind chatter takes over.

Whatever method you choose, it’s important we learn to recognize and express all of our emotions (especially the ones that have been labeled “negative” such as fear, anger, sadness, depression) so we can experience balanced emotional and physical health. Lucia Capacchione says: The only way out of difficult emotions is through them. Then we can genuinely be receptive to the more pleasant ones (happiness, love, playfulness, and peace).

Or as Elsa from Frozen says as she’s stepping into her truth and freedom:



Let it go, let it go

Can’t hold it back anymore

Let it go, let it go . . .

If you haven’t seen the awesome song from the Disney movie, Frozen, check it out here: http://youtu.be/moSFlvxnbgk


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2 comments to Let it go, let it go . . . can’t hold it back anymore

  • Nickie

    This is very relevant & timely Just Real Stuff with Laurie Hugdahl!
    Many of us were taught as children not to share our emotions; to ‘just keep them to yourself’. I wasn’t able to actually identify certain emotions until very late in life. i have often been criticized as being ‘too emotional’! I’ve watched a few of Candace Pert’s YouTube videos and she makes complete sense! Morning Pages DO help..I’ve actually ended up putting on paper what some of those negative ‘voices’ and old tapes say that keep re-running in my head, and have been surprised at how many negative messages there have been (and how few positive ones)! As I become more aware of the damaging ‘chatter’, I can change the content to a much more positive message. I have actually been shedding a few pounds as I allow myself to become a much happier person — those negative emotions seem to have been “weighing me down” — as a reality! Time to “let it go, let it go”!!! Great post!

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