What Happens in Your Body When You Don’t Fully Feel Your Emotions?
Many of us have gotten used to not feeling all of our feelings. Depending on our upbringing and other factors, certain emotions might be more acceptable for us to feel and express than others are.
For example, I have always felt it was easy to express feelings like sadness and worry than it is to show anger (as is probably common for many women). You might feel more comfortable with anger but sadness might be hard for you (this can be conditioned into men with patterns of saying “men don’t cry”).
Yet each and every emotion that we have is made up of different neuropeptides (chemicals that act as neurotransmitters) and so when we don’t allow ourselves to feel and express ALL feelings and emotions, those chemicals that make up that emotion don’t fully work their way through our bodies.
What that means is that whatever we don’t feel gets biochemically stored in our bodies for “later.” Yet for many of us, we never really get around to that “later.”
Our bodies are designed to have a storage system where certain organs and body parts are more appropriate storage areas for each emotion. For example, grief is the domain of the lungs and large intestine, while anger belongs to the liver and gall bladder.
When we make it a habit of never really feeling those emotions or going back to the ones that we saved for “later,” however, our filing system gets awfully full and so then our bodies start sticking those emotions in other places they weren’t even designed to hold.
In addition, even if the emotion is put in the right file drawer (so to speak), if it sits there and then gets added to, it creates problems for our bodies in the long run.
If you’ve ever had a pain in an area that seemed to “come out of nowhere” and you can’t think of a way you hurt yourself or other reason, sometimes it can be that emotion trying to make its presence known…
For example, if you’ve got a bunch of grief stored in your lungs, you might notice an increase in respiratory symptoms without being sick or even just a tightness or heaviness in your chest and lungs. This was an experience of someone in one of my group sessions last night.
Once you actually process and release that emotion, that sensation goes away.
If this sounds “woo woo,” I encourage you to learn about the work of Dr. Candace Pert who studied these neuropeptides that she referred to as “Molecules of Emotion.” Dr. Pert wrote, “Your body is your subconscious mind.”
In a powerful scientific description of her research, Dr. Pert also wrote:
“A feeling sparked in our mind or body will translate as a peptide being released somewhere. [Organs, tissues, skin, muscle and endocrine glands], they all have peptide receptors on them and can access and store emotional information. This means the emotional memory is stored in many places in the body, not just (or even primarily) in the brain. You can access emotional memory anywhere in the peptide/receptor network, in any number of ways. I think unexpressed emotions are literally lodged in the body. The real true emotions that need to be expressed are in the body, trying to move up and be expressed and thereby integrated, made whole, and healed.”
So the next time you feel a pain come up in an area “out of nowhere,” perhaps take time to tune into that area and see if perhaps some emotion is stored there and is trying to work its way out.
And also remember that when you feel emotions arise, take time to feel them and don’t just constantly put them on a shelf for a later that never comes.
By doing so, you will be supporting your physical, mental, and emotional health in powerful ways.