When emotions are overwhelming it is tempting to get busy, to turn to sugar or other addictions to numb out and escape the feelings. This just keeps the emotions buried inside. The only way to truly escape from them is to feel them and release them so that they are no longer inside, surfacing over and over again in an attempt to get you to embrace them.
There are many ways to feel and release emotions. Below is a range of techniques that you can use for either no or low-cost. Try each and see what works best for you. If you find that you still can’t cope with the intensity of the emotions then reach out for support. A list of free counselling helplines within Australia is included below. If you are not from Australia an internet search or question to your local doctor will hopefully provide you with details of similar services available close to you.
- Expressing how you are feeling – Speak your truth, honour your feelings – just do it in a way that is safe. If that means screaming into a cushion or in the car with the windows wound up, do it. If it means crying while curled up on the floor, do it. If it means beating cushions on the lounge while expressing your anger, do it. If it feels safe to do, you may choose to imagine the person who upset you is there with you and tell them the consequences of their actions and its impact on your life. The important part is expressing what you feel. Letting it leave your body rather than locking it up inside you.
- Writing out how you are feeling – a journal or diary can be used to write about how you are feeling and why. This honours your emotions and helps you to connect within, to reflect on what you are feeling and the reasons for it. It helps you to gain insight into your experiences and behaviour. It can be very helpful especially if you feel you can’t share what you are going through with anyone else. Some people like to express their feelings in poems or songs, they find that very therapeutic. You can also write letters (which you won’t actually send) to those that hurt you expressing your emotions, the impact on your life and your needs now. Because you don’t actually send the letter you can express the depth of your rage and grief, really letting the person know how you feel. After you’ve written it rip the letter up and burn it, let it and the emotions go.
- Drawing how you are feeling – art can be a powerful method for releasing emotions as it is more ‘feeling’ based and less ‘thinking’ based. Pick up crayons, paint or clay – whatever feels right – and use it to express what you’re feeling. Just scribble or draw, allow what needs to be expressed to come out. You don’t need to try and draw something specific, let it evolve out of your emotions. It can be very surprising to see what appears this way. When it’s done the emotion is out of you and on the paper. You can keep your drawings as a record of your healing journey or rip them up and burn them as a symbolism of release.
- Moving the energy – emotions are energy in motion (e-motion). You can shift anger and rage by doing vigorous exercise. Go for a walk, run, swim or whatever form of exercise feels right. Do a gym class, punch a punching bag, whatever works for you. As you exercise you release the pent up energy and therefore the emotions.
- Embracing the healing power of nature – sitting or walking in nature can be a powerful healer. I find that being in a garden or forest helps me to centre and ground, to balance back up, to feel stronger, more peaceful and able to cope with whatever I’m facing. Standing near or in the ocean, feeling the salt air or the salt water if I’m in it helps cleanse me, freshen me, drain away the negative emotions, leaving me feeling lighter, cleaner and stronger. (Having a bath with a handful of rock salt in it does a similar thing).
- Meditation – If you can sit still and meditate then simply observing your emotions and the associated thoughts can allow them to shift and release. They no longer need to fight for your attention so they quieten down as you honour them and accept them – as you acknowledge the reason the emotions arose and what information they are giving you about your life and any actions needing to be taken. Just sit and breathe deeply, witness what occurs within your body. Allow emotions, thoughts, images and memories to surface and release. Our breath is very powerful and can shift even the most intense of emotions if you allow the process to occur – keep breathing and witnessing – and allow the emotions to flow and shift. Trust that they will move and breathe through any resistance.
- Flower remedies – There are a wide range of flower remedies such as Bach Flower Remedies and Australian Bush Flower Essences. These are relatively low-cost and help the body to balance emotions and clear blockages. There are remedies to assist when you have experienced shock or trauma (Rescue Remedy or SOS Remedy). There are also remedies specific for individual emotions and issues – such as grief, fear, anger, sadness or for building confidence, self-love and self-esteem. Many health food shops and some chemists stock flower remedies within Australia. They can also be ordered over the internet from wholesale stockists or manufacturers.
Australian Counselling Helplines
Below are the details of some of the free counselling services provided by organisations within Australia. (This information was accurate as of 2010.) Visit their websites to find out what other services they provide or can refer you to. There are often support groups and sometimes workshops you can attend. There are also some Government funded services to support those suffering from depression and mental health issues. Ask your local doctor about what services are available in your local area.
Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA), Phone: 1300-657-380 – provides support, information and referrals throughout Australia to survivors of all forms of child abuse and neglect, male and female, family members, supporters as well as health professionals. Operating hours are 9–5 EDST with answering machine outside these hours and while counsellors are on another call. All calls made after hours will be returned the following day. http://www.asca.org.au/
Kids help line Phone: 1800 55 1800 – Kids Help Line is Australia’s only free, confidential and anonymous, 24-hour telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between five and 18. http://www.kidshelpline.com.au/
Lifeline Phone: 131 114 – A 24-hour telephone counselling service available for anyone, at any time, and from anywhere in Australia for just the cost of a local call. http://www.lifeline.com.au
Parent help line Phone: 1300 364 100 – The Parent Helpline is a service of the SA Government Department Children, Youth and Women’s Health Service and provides telephone information, counselling and support – 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year. It is available to parents of children and young people from birth to twenty five years and to people working with children and young people, including teachers and childcare providers. http://www.parenting.sa.gov.au/helpline/. For details of services provided in other states of Australia see: http://www.aifs.gov.au/nch/resources/counselling.html#nat
Paying for supportive healing services
If you have funds to spend then you can of course choose from a wide range of modalities and services to assist you with your healing journey.
- If you want to talk about your experiences – then Counsellors, Coaches, Psychiatrists and Psychologists may be of assistance. Each has a different approach, cost and use. Ask questions before deciding on a practitioner to see. What is his or her experience with healing from child abuse? Do they regularly prescribe the use of anti-depressants and medication? How long do they normally see clients for? What are their spiritual beliefs? Find someone who you resonate with, who feels safe to be with and who listens to and honours you. Be prepared that you will probably feel worse before you feel better. As you make insights about your life and the reasons for your behaviours you will uncover the pain that led to your conditioning and repetitive patterns. It is painful facing all of this but it has to be done in order to heal and find inner peace. Take your time, rest when you need to and explore yourself and your past at a rate you can handle. Many abuse survivors, like me, push themselves way too hard in an attempt to heal quickly. Be kind to yourself.
- If you want to use non-talk focussed approaches – then a range of methods can be used to support your body to release and heal. Massage is very beneficial; especially for physical and sexual abuse survivors who learn from it that touch can be safe and nurturing. There are many different types of body-work that can be of assistance, including: acupuncture, bowen, myofascial release, reiki and rolfing. Ask friends what they have tried and felt helped. Get referrals to practitioners that people you trust have visited. Do some research on the internet and follow your intuition as to what feels most appropriate for you. Try something and if after a few visits it doesn’t feel helpful, try something else. When you have found something that works for you, stick with it. Allow it to take you deep within. Often people stay at the surface by chopping and changing the modalities that they are using. They fail to go deep within, feel their pain and release it. Instead they just seek pleasure from these body-work approaches. While this feels good it’s not achieving the ultimate need – releasing the emotions buried within the body.
- If you are willing to talk a little – then there are a range of practices available that are quick and brief therapies rather than involving years and years of talking. Homeopathy can be very beneficial – you talk just enough that the practitioner can select the right remedy to support you with the major issues you are currently facing. You use that for four to six weeks then return to repeat the process. Thought Field Therapy, PSYCH-K, and the LifeLine Technique can help you to release buried emotions and/or change self-defeating, subconscious beliefs. You don’t have to explain your history or anything about yourself. Just tell the practitioner what the topic is that you want to work on and any beliefs that you want to change. They will then guide you through the process. A different topic is worked on each session.
There are many options and many ways to heal. The above are just a sampling of techniques that I’ve experienced as beneficial in my healing journey. See where you feel guided and follow that path. Trust in yourself and the process. Your journey like everyone else’s will be unique to suit your unique needs and issues.