Our body likes to be the luggage for our emotions. Holding and containing it all inside so that nobody can see. You stuff it and stuff it until it gets so full that it takes all your physical effort to push the top down to zip it shut. You’re hoping it’s not going to rip at the seams. Stress begins to take its toll.
Our bodies, however, don’t have wheels. You’re not able to just lightly pull it along. You must carry it everywhere you go. Imagine carrying a luggage without wheels? The length of time you’re gripping the handle. The strain it takes on your arm, your back. You can only take so much. After a while, you’re arm begins to shake, tremble, and feel unbearably tight until your muscles just can’t give anymore. Your arms go limp, numb, and drop. You feel so exhausted. You know you can’t get rid of the luggage, but you can’t carry it anymore either. So, you just sit there with it and have no idea what to do. You feel stuck.
Our mind, heart, and body responds to stress in the same way.
The mind starts to ruminate, body begins to shake, tremble, you begin to cry uncontrollably, and you breathe so fast, you feel you can’t catch it. You’re so scared of losing control that you try to grip even harder. Anxiety takes control instead.
Soon, you become so tired of the anxiety, you just block everything out of your mind. You become numb, have no energy, motivation, and feel hopeless that you will be able to gain control again. And you don’t want anybody to see you “losing it,” so you stop going out and enjoy what you used too. You withdraw, isolate, and soon depression begins to creep in.
But imagine if you can begin to unzip the luggage, open it, and begin to take one thing out at a time. As it empties, it becomes lighter and lighter. How would you feel carrying that luggage now? Or better yet, put it away in the closet? You know it’s there but it’s safe and you don’t need it anymore. You can go about your day freely without feeling its weight slowing you down. It isn’t a constant reminder. Imagine what those around you would see now?
When you can begin talking about and allowing your emotions to flow, in a safe way and with the right support, your heart, mind, and body become clearer and lighter. You have more energy, more presence with those around you, only filling yourself with enjoyment and laughter. No more suppression, just enjoying and coping when you need to so that you don’t have to lug anything around anymore.
So, what are the ingredients for a safe and supportive environment?
Someone who can:
- Actively listen
- without trying to “fix” you
- without having to solve the problem for you
- without trying to compete with who had it worse
- be Non-judgmental
- No shaming comments
- No “you should have”
- No why’s
- Contain the space for you. Some people feel uncomfortable with feelings that they may unintentionally and quickly dismiss your feelings by saying, “Don’t worry. It will all work out. Don’t stress.” It’s not always that easy.
- Validate your emotions of what is your truth
- Empathize (not sympathize) with you (“I’m sorry you had to go through that” “Oh I remember when something similar happen to me. I get how you feel.”)
- Willing to ask and offer what you need
Can you think of someone in your life that has these qualities? Finding the right support is key. Remember, someone must earn the right to hear your story. These qualities build safety and trust. The two main ingredients needed to share and be vulnerable with another. If you feel you need support outside of friends or family to help you sort through the stress or heaviness you’re feeling, please contact me for a free 20-minute consult.