Updated: Jul 20, 2022
By: Sara Mitteer
About a year ago, I embarked on the journey of learning how to expand my heart's capacity to open and stay open. It is easy to shut down or disconnect when we feel sad, hurt, betrayed, angry, or afraid. I've always been one to run from confrontation and check out of my heart because it was too painful to feel the hurt. I didn't realize how much this was limiting my capacity to love or feel alive...over the years, I became numb.
That is the interesting thing about coping mechanisms...
If we aren't conscious and intentional, they can easily
become defense mechanisms.
I learned how to numb the pain to cope with the constant onslaught of disappointment and anguish. I learned how to become angry instead, because that felt more empowering and safe. However my anger rarely created resolution when others were involved; in fact, it often made it worse. So I began to shut down instead. I avoided conflict. I ejected out of the hard conversations when my emotions became too consuming. I chose not to care and repressed the part of me that did care. I swept my emotions under the rug and decided to just move on.
The sneaky part of this was I thought I was transcending the conflict.
I would wrap the emotional repression in a beautiful, spiritual narrative. Time is too precious to waste feeling upset. I have the power to not let this control my emotions. If I practice non-attachment, I won't feel so hurt by this. This is happening for a reason, so I'll just let go and trust that what is meant to be will be.
Don't get me wrong... a healthy, spiritual narrative is extremely beneficial. The difference here is, I was using it to escape my emotions. We have a term for this: spiritual bypassing.
I thought I was happy, but in reality, I was numb.
I feel there is a step BEFORE the healthy narrative. A step before spiritual transcendence. A step before finding understanding and compassion for the person who hurt you.
Feel every ounce of the sad, hurt, betrayal, anger, and fear.
Feel the disappointment. Feel the anguish.
Once I stopped taking the fast track to the spiritual light at the end of the tunnel and I slowed down enough to feel my pain, something interesting happened. My capacity for love expanded. My ability to feel pleasure and joy restored.
If you're anything like me, you will likely have a back log of emotions repressed in the body that will need to be released. When we experience emotions, peptides are released into the body. If we do not allow the body to express the emotion fully, these peptides will store in our physical body and can turn into illness, pain or disease. It is our body's way of communicating to us. Our body holds consciousness too. If you want to hear more about this, you can watch my video here.
Embodiment work, somatic therapy, energy work and breathwork are my secret sauce. These modalities have allowed me to release the emotions that have been stored in my body from my past. I have learned a process for metabolizing emotions and my body has learned how to express emotion fully. My nervous system capacity has expanded and I am able to sit with challenging emotions on much deeper levels.
My heart is more open.
As my embodiment coach says, this is hero's work. It isn't easy or comfortable, but it is extremely worthwhile.