Organizations that empower their employees to take care of themselves find that they have higher retention rates, that staff report higher levels of job satisfaction, and that the quality of work is more consistent. Some businesses do not have the built-in flexibility to even allow for staff to address their needs when they arise. The needs to which we are referring can range from using the bathroom to leaving work at an unscheduled time in order to care for another person. These are needs that all individuals have yet few organizations can accommodate the unpredictable nature of daily life. Service providers and shift workers have little flexibility within their work window which results in individuals having to put off their basic or other needs until another time. This sends the message to one’s body that it is not a priority and can be ignored.
There are many other ways that individuals tell their body that it can be ignored – some of which are done multiple times throughout the day and may seem inconsequential, yet still communicate the same message to the body. Examples include indulging in foods that are known to offer little nutrition, postponing a trip to the bathroom until it is urgent, staying up late to finish a project even though one’s body is tired, and imbibing in activities that are known to be harmful yet provide a short-term experience. When the body is treated in a manner that doesn’t respect the needs it has, it will find ways to require one’s attention and receive care.
There are a range of ailments that can arise in the body when it doesn’t receive the care it needs on a daily basis, many of which range in severity yet all reflect the body’s need for sufficient rest, proper nutrition, and gentle movement throughout the day. The top 2 leading causes of death in the U.S., heart disease and cancer, can both arise in the physical body if the individual has been ignoring the body’s needs for an extended period of time. Another important factor that can also result in the physical expression of one of these ailments (or many others) is ignoring one’s emotions – consciously or unconsciously keeping feelings within one’s body without releasing them on a regular basis.
The allopathic British doctor, Edward Bach, realized after he had been practicing family medicine for a handful of years that an individual’s emotional state played a large role in their physical well-being – this was an epiphany for him as his medical training did not acknowledge emotional impacts to health. He left the allopathic practice and began studying the root emotional causes to common physical ailments. After years of study, he determined there are about 37 emotional states that are common across the human experience and that, when these emotional states where allowed to fester in the body, the body would respond with various sicknesses. Dr. Bach was one of the first individuals to study and utilize flower essences – the energetic imprint of a plant’s flower – to help alleviate the emotional issue so that the body could heal the physical ailment.
The Western culture as a rule does not acknowledge the importance of one’s emotions and how best to release them without harm to anyone or anything. To show one’s emotions is considered being ‘weak’, ‘too sensitive’, or ‘ungrounded’. Much like the ‘whack-a-mole’ game, if the emotions one is experiencing are not acknowledged and released, they will keep popping up until they are. Dr. Bach categorized the 37 emotions into 7 overarching categories (these categories emphasizing the imbalance): Oversensitivity to influences and ideas, loneliness, fear, despondency and despair, overcare for others’ welfare, uncertainty, and lack of interest in present circumstances. All of these are imbalances that can be brought into balance when an individual is able to acknowledge, release these feelings in a safe way, and then reinforce the thoughts and beliefs that enable them to embrace their value, worthiness, and purpose.
Some of the safest ways to release emotions are by crying, talking with a friend or person who can be fully present and listen, taking a nap, going for a walk or some other physical exercise, or writing thoughts down on paper. There are innumerable other ways to safely move one’s emotions out of their body and it is up to the individual to determine what works best for them. It is important to determine what does work for you so that you know what to do to help you safely process and release your emotions when they arise. It is not uncommon for individuals to push through their day and/or fill their day with a full schedule so that it is harder to stop and allow for these types of emotional releases – meanwhile, the body is brought along and expected to maintain all of its ongoing functions while also enduring additional stresses and it can only do this for so long until a physical issue arises.
There is a phenomenal study that was conducted at the Kaiser Permanente health clinic in California from 1995-1997. Of the 17,000+ individuals who participated in the study, it was determined that over 60% of participants had a physical ailment or issue that could be directly connected to stress that they endured during their childhood years (ages 0-17). And of those that had multiple stresses or “adverse childhood experiences”, the likelihood of physical issues increased significantly. This scientific study reinforces the point that We are trying to make – emotions are often the root cause to many physical ailments and it is important to practice safely releasing one’s emotions so that the energy is released and does not build up in the body. Many people are not aware that they aren’t releasing their feelings which is why it is important to normalize and promote the importance of releasing emotions so that it enters the collective’s dialogue and awareness and supports more people in feeling their feelings and safely releasing them.
One of the most important practices to begin and maintain is the practice of acknowledging and safely releasing your feelings. It is a skill that is not necessarily taught or modeled in most homes and does require the individual to prioritize the way they feel – as this helps to bring more awareness to the feelings one is feeling throughout the day which, in turn, helps the individual begin consciously acknowledging and safely releasing emotions that don’t support their well-being. It is part of the human condition to have feelings, but it is not part of the human condition to know how to handle them. Rather, it is a skill and needs to be practiced.
When it is your priority to feel good, you will become more aware of the experiences and thoughts you have that don’t enable you to feel good. And to be clear, We are not promoting ‘being happy’ – although, you are more likely to feel ‘happy’ when you feel ‘good’ – We are promoting the state of being that allows for a sense of balance and well-being within your body, mind, and spirit.
The human condition is a phenomenal and simply complex journey to navigate. Our emotions are one of our most helpful tools on this journey – particularly when we learn that we are not our thoughts and can begin to influence and choose the thoughts that best support our well-being. Empowered self care is born out of observing one’s thoughts and giving energy to those thoughts that one desires. You are much more able to create the life you desire when you begin taking care of your thoughts.
To your aligned vitality,
Photo credit: “A Galaxy Within” – oil on canvas by @robreyart