Friday, July 11, 2008

Healing And Letting Go Of Repressed Emotions

From Opening The Energy Gates Of Your Body, Chi Gung for Lifelong Health, written by Bruce Frantzis, 1993,2006, page 43-44:

"The Taoist view of the transformation of emotional energy differs radically from the cathartic practices of either Eastern kundalini or Western group therapy. In the Shaktipat kundalini practice, catharsis is sometimes called kriya, or action. Here, the idea, in the early developmental stages, is to discharge emotional energy by various actions, such as screaming, yelling, crying, curling into the fetal position---moving through blocked emotional states until they are freed up. In group therapy (from primal scream to encounter, bioenergetics, and psychodrama) the idea is to emote your pain and agony externally, the louder the better, heaping verbal and physical abuse on a pillow or a person, as the case may be. Though these approaches are sometimes successful, the ancient Taoists detected an inherent problem with such techniques."

"When pressure builds up in a pressure cooker, there are---within the cathartic model---only three options you have to handle the situation: 1) turn the heat off (i.e., deny, repress); 2) let some steam out at intervals; or 3) let all the steam out at once. Turning the heat off leaves the basic emotional situation unchanged. If you only let steam partially out, after a period, the pressure will build to again reach a critical level. All the 'steam' can be let out of a trapped emotion at one blow, but the reality is that this particular event rarely occurs. Far more common for people with emotional blockages is that they let some, but not all, of the emotional pressure out, and then---as mentioned---the pressure rebuilds until they have to 'cathart' again."

"The cathartic release of violent emotions irritates and exhausts the system, and can sometimes foster an addictive need to feel those violent emotions in ever-stranger forms. Cathartic methods may easily turn practitioners into therapy junkies---angry people become angrier still, for instance, or depressed people sink deeper into depression, while deluding themselves into thinking that they are working on self-improvement."

In my search for better health and well-being, I found the book Opening The Energy Gates Of Your Body, Chi Gung for Lifelong Health. Why a book on Chi Gung? A close friend of mine resently told me if he could only do one exercise program, Chi Gung would be it. I am taking a Tai Chi class from another friend. I love the way the Tai Chi makes me feel. Am I any good at it? No. Do I have a great teacher? Yes. He is patient and lets each of us learn the movements at our own pace. Is it helping? Yes, I am a Reiki practicioner. About a month after starting Tai Chi, I would notice at some point during the exercise that the Reiki energy would start to flow from my hands. Now, the energy starts to flow within minutes of starting the Tai Chi movements so I know the energy flow through my body is much better. I also feel more contented, peaceful and centered after a Tai Chi class. My body doesn't hurt like it does after more conventional exercise classes that I have done in the past.

Why did I choose to share the above quotes with you? Because it is the best explanation that I have ever seen for how some therapy sessions have worked for me in the past. I especially liked the "pressure cooker" analogy. It is one that I have used for many year explaining how I used to do emotions. I have also called the process feeling like I was a volcano waiting to explode. I denied and suppressed my emotions because I was afraid and didn't know how to deal with them. I learned from Raymond (dad) that emotions were explosive and often violent. I learned that there was no safe way to acknowledge what you were feeling. I also felt so angry that Rage wasn't even an adequate description. It was so volatile, like a volcano or pressure cooker waiting to explode when the pressure got to be more than I could control. I was deeply afraid of my own anger. I was afraid that I would use it to hurt others if I let it out. The reality was that when the volcano or pressure cooker did explode my husband and kids were the ones that I hurt with my angry words. If you are sarcastic, that is what you are doing to yourself and others---hurting them. They aren't the source of your anger but they are the closest ones to you.

None of the above therapy methods worked for me. They may work for some people. They did not work for me. They only gave me temporary relief.

Meditations, dreams, talking and writing is what has worked for me to get back in touch with my emotions. Looking at the part that I play in my life is what has worked for me. Writing these articles is what has worked for me. Reading about the struggles and wonderful adventures to recovery of others is what has worked for me. Placing responsibility where it belongs is what has worked for me. Loving myself is what has worked for me. Being vulnerable and trusting myself and others is what has worked for me. Taking myself out of abusive relationships and circumstances is what has worked for me. Finding out what is healthy (Notice I did not say normal. Normal isn't always healthy.) is what has worked for me.

I haven't found any simple, instantly miraculous cures. They may exist for you. If so, I am happy for you. My journey has been about hard work. I could have stayed a victim and always held on to my rage and fears. Some people never come out of that. If I had, I would have missed out on so many of the miracles of my life. I usually only see the miracles when I am looking back. They weren't instant. They, like my life, evolved. The person that you meet today is not the person that I was 20 years ago, 50 years ago, or even yesterday and that is the way that I want it to be. Growing, evolving is what life for me is about. Join me. Let me know how your life is evolving? What is different about you today?

If you are visiting for the first time or read my articles but haven't commented on what you're reading, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think. Am I doing a good job of expressing myself? Do I tell too many personal stories? If this is your first time to visit my blog, I welcome you. Let me know what you think. Your comments are valuable to me and my readers. They let me know that you understand what the articles are about. They let me know that you care. I have met some really wonderful people through comments here and on the blogs that I read. One of those communities that I am just beginning to connect with belongs to James and Harry and their blog "Men with Pens." Jame's latest article you will find at .


Jenny said...

I can totally relate to the volcano description. There are more times that I have had the pressure/emotion build up in me with nowhere to go because I was afraid to let it out. It scares me most of the time because I am afraid of hurting someone else, I don't necessarily care if I hurt myself but would feel terrible if I hurt someone other than me. I know there is a pressure building at this moment but I haven't found the right time to let some of it out.

Sam said...

Oh well, I've only read one or two articles of yours, so I probably count as firsttimer as well as 'have not commented yet'.

What I think? Really?

I like the content you wrote, but for me your writing could use less words, and get a bit straighter to the point you'd like to make.

But always remember, this is not about me, or what I'd like, this is about what you want to write. Since writing is also a way of healing, you should mainly write for yourself, re-read your articles with some distance, and see for yourself if you do still like them after a day or two (and really read, don't just skip over them).

Patricia Singleton said...

Jenny, I was afraid that I would kill someone if I let all of that rage out. What I didn't realize is that my morals wouldn't have allowed that to happen. Because I didn't want to hurt anyone else would have been what would have stopped me from hurting them. It isn't good to hold the emotions in either because you are hurting yourself. If your health isn't already suffering, it will as you get older. That isn't good either. You are just as valuable as anyone else. Learning to love myself and finding others to support me helped me to get in touch with my rage. I have gotten in touch with a lot of my rage through writing about it and talking to friends and talking about it in Adult Children of Alcoholics groups. For me, it was a long process. The biggest help was in learning to express my feelings, whatever they were as they came up before they became pressure cookers or volcanoes waiting to explode. When I started doing that, I went through a very long year when everything made me angry before I got a handle on it.

Patricia Singleton said...

Sam, thanks for your comment. I mean that. If I didn't want to know, I wouldn't have asked. With that knowledge from you, I can see through new eyes. That doesn't mean that I will make many changes.

Change, for me, is usually a slow process. I know that some of my articles are scattered. This one definitely was. I thought I was going to write about one topic when I sat down and then wrote about several instead. Maybe the article would have been better if I had written three out of it instead of one. What does everyone else think? Would this have been better as three articles instead of one?

Sam, thanks for your opinion. It is important to me.

Patricia Singleton said...

Sam, as you suggested, I should have checked to see which article you were posting this comment on. I think this article is pretty focused on the topic that I intended to write about. In my mind, I was talking about my previous article "Independence, Not Just For A Day" that should probably been broken down to more than one article.

Rebecca said...

Hi Patricia ( a name I love),

With me you can't tell too many personal stories in your blog. And you express yourself very well. Of course I tend to process things the same way you do.

So, keep it up!

You Go Girl!

Good luck and much happiness and contentment in your journey!

Patricia Singleton said...

Rebecca, when I read someone else's blog, I appreciate the personal stories too. I also process things through my writing. I will do what I always do with input from others. I will look at all the comments and see what fits for me and for my writing style and see if there are any changes that I want to make that add to rather than substract from what I want to say. The Libra in my chart allows me to do that without getting my feelings hurt by comments that are different than my views. I like being able to do that. It gives me valuable information that I might not otherwise see on my own. That is why I asked.

Marelisa said...

Hi Patricia:

I'm second degree Reiki and I know what you mean about feeling the energy flowing from your hands during a tai chi session. I also do something called Spring Forest Qi Gong which I absolutely love. For some reason there are times when I stop doing these things and I feel the impact in my life right away. This is one of those moments when I'm not doing as many of my spiritual practices as I usually do, I need to get started again.

I know what you mean about "letting it all out" not being the best policy. I think that practices such as yelling and hitting a pillow perpetuate the state of anger. Releasing the anger through practices like the ones I mention in this post work much better for me.

Patricia Singleton said...

Marelisa, I have to say that I love you name from the first time that I ran across your comments on Barbara's blog.

I agree with what you have said. I have tried all of the above methods with very little improvement and none of it lasting change.

It is interesting that you mentioned Spring Forest Qigong. I have a sample CD sitting here in front of my computer that I haven't listened to yet to see if I want to buy it. Now I will listen to it. I just received some CD's that I ordered to teach me Qigong. I am interested in learning healing through energy work and am doing research right now on what is available. We are so blessed with all of the information that is at hand right now.

Chief Cook & Bottle Washer said...

I've been by a couple of times, but I don't think I've ever commented.

I do think there are "simple, instantly miraculous cures". I also believe that most of us need the time it takes to grow through a healing process - growth that we wouldn't get with an instant cure.

Tomorrow I plan to be a different person than I am today. In some ways I'll be more like the person I was yesterday. In other ways, I'll be new.

Good luck with your process! :)

Patricia Singleton said...

Chief Cook, I agree with you about the growth from going through a longer process than an instant cure would provide. Thanks for visiting again.

Evan said...

Fritz Perls - an early gestalt psychotherapist, now long dead and who could be a very unpleasant individual - once said: emotion is too important to waste on a catharsis. I think he was right.

I see the value of a catharsis as getting rid of un-directed energy so the person can get a better degree of awareness.

Patricia Singleton said...

Evan, I believe that emotions happen to teach us lessons about ourselves. I have been listening to a CD today that was done by Shinzen Young called "break through difficult emotions, How to Transform Painful Feelings with Mindfulness Meditation that says the best way to release difficult emotions is to sit mindfully with them and allow them to flow through and then out of your body.

Irene | Light Beckons said...

Hi Patricia,

I've been here often ... sometimes I leave comments, sometimes I just Stumble them, and sometimes I simply absorb them like s sponge and digest them slowly at my own pace. I've mentioned this to you before -- reading what you write makes me feel good inside somehow. Perhaps I'm just one of those people who resonate with your vibes via your writings, and I can't imagine what it would be like if you were to change your style. Just be you Patricia ... that's why so many people love your work. :) We, as readers, have the responsibility to pick and choose what we want to take away with us. If there's too much info, I'll just take the parts that make sense to me and leave the ones that don't. Keep writing!

Patricia Singleton said...

Irene, thank you so much. I will definitely continue to be me in my writings. That is the only way that I know to stay authentic which is important to me. I don't see my basic style changing that much. At the same time, I do see my writing improving as I grow and learn more about blogging and more about myself. I do know that I can't please everybody. Nobody can. I also know that some of my topics aren't the easiest for others to read about. They aren't always easy for me to write about. Sometimes life is that way. Taking the parts that work and leaving what doesn't work for me has always had value for me as well. Thanks for playing a part in my life's journey. You do make a difference too.

Barbara Swafford said...

Hi Patricia,

I love your writings. The more I blog, the more I realize how therapeutic blogging can be. In some way it's similar to journaling, but with it being public information, hitting that "publish" button and having a post go "live" is powerful.

It's in that sharing and from the responses we get, that validation often comes. We're no longer a mouse in the corner. Our voice hits the airwaves and we release our cares into the world.

Soon, we can't be silenced any longer.

Patricia Singleton said...

Barbara, thank you. I agree that blogging through the writing aspect of it definitely can be therapeutic. That is a main reason for me to write---to help myself and to help others come out of the effects of the abuse and to know that they are not alone. I may change along the journey but I don't see myself quitting for a long time, if ever. I won't be one of those bloggers that quits after a year of blogging.

Deborah said...

Hi Patricia. I'm new here, but am enjoying my visits as I work my way through your archives.

I think the most we can ask from each other, and ourselves, is authentic expression of who we are, and I think your writing does a perfect job of reflecting that. I'm not sure there can be "too many" personal stories, but in any case, I think you tell yours with clarity and intention. I believe we're all on healing journeys here and it's a beautiful thing to celebrate when we move into new self-awarenesses and can help hold a flashlight on the path for a co-traveler.

Keep sharing!

Patricia Singleton said...

Deborah, thank you for your words of support. I will definitely keep holding that flashlight for others who follow or walk beside me. Welcome here anytime.