We all know that traumatic events from our past can continue to haunt us and make us miserable long after the event is over. Did you know that painful emotions can affect your physical health as well?

How do we experience emotions?
Our language tells us a lot about how we experience emotions. We might say, “my heart was broken” or “I’m carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders” or “she stabbed me in the back”. For positive emotions we might say, “there is a song in my heart” or “that warmed my heart” or “I’m bubbling over with laughter.” These are not just poetic descriptions.

We feel our emotions in our physical body. Antonio Damasio, author of The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness (1999), tells us, “All emotions use the body as their theater.”

Candace Pert, who wrote Molecules of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine (1999), explains how our emotions are stored in the body. She tells us that our emotions are chemicals created by the brain. These chemicals (also called neuropeptides) are present throughout the body. When we experience an emotion, we are feeling the neuropeptides interacting with our cells.

Our body is designed to experience an emotion and release it. If we don’t know how handle a painful emotion, that emotion may not be released. It becomes stuck in the body.

Pert tells us that memories are stored throughout the body, not just in the brain. Memories reside at the level of the cell receptor. Pert goes on to say, suppressed emotions “can affect your perceptions, decisions, behavior, and even health, all unconsciously.”

Emotions are connected to healing.
Healing the body is not just a physical activity. Dr. David Simon, author of Vital Energy: The 7 Keys to Invigorate Body, Mind & Soul (2000), tells us that in older cultures “disease was viewed as a lack of integration between body, mind, and spirit, and healing was the reintegration of these layers. The idea that illness was a purely physical event was unimaginable.” Karol Truman, who wrote Feelings Buried Alive Never Die… (2001), says, “DISEASE in any form is the natural consequence of unresolved negative feelings that have been forgotten, ignored, or buried.”

Unresolved emotions affect your body at the cellular level. If you buried fear, your cells are in a constant state of fear. If you buried anger, your cells are in a constant state of anger.

These unresolved emotions prevent your immune system from working at the optimum level. Your immune system works best when you are feeling love, appreciation, and gratitude.

How do you know if you have unresolved emotions from the past?
We have been experiencing these emotions for so long, they may have become like background noise. We no longer notice them. Here are some indicators of unresolved emotions:

1. Are you haunted by painful events from your past?
2. Are your emotional reactions more intense than the reactions of your friends?
3. Do you struggle with low self-esteem, a lack of self worth, or feeling unlovable?
4. Do you have health issues that are not responding to treatment?
5. Does the information in this article hit your “truth button”.

What can you do to release the past?
Forgiveness is one of the best ways to release the past. Louise Hay, author of You Can Heal Your Life (1984), says, “We must release the past and forgive everyone. All disease comes from a lack of forgiveness. Forgiveness means giving up, letting go. It has nothing to do with condoning behavior.”

Who do you need to forgive? Can you forgive yourself?

Sometimes cognitive methods are not enough. Traumatic events can occur before you are old enough to create cognitive memories. Pert tells us “some severe trauma is stored in the old reptilian parts of the brain. These areas are prespeech and prelogic and thus require body work intervention in order to be accessed.”

Body work does not require touch. You can access the wisdom of your body by learning to communicate with your emotions. For more information, see my other Self Growth posts:

1. 5 Reasons to Release Emotional Wounds from the Past
2. 3 Steps to Releasing a Painful Past
3. How to Reclaim Your Life

These posts will teach you how to release emotions at the cellular level. You learn how to provide your body with the love, safety, or nurturing you need in a language your body can understand. When your body gets the life affirming emotions it needs, painful emotions are easily released. Instead of painful events from the past you will be using the language of emotion: metaphors, images, and stories. This means that you do not need to relive painful events to heal.

Releasing painful of traumatic emotions from the past can improve every area of your life, including your health.

Author's Bio: 

Donna Weber, M.A., LPC is an emotional change consultant. Her goal is to help you release emotional wounds, reclaim your true self, and start living the life you dream about. To find more information and self-help techniques, visit her web site: www.ReclaimYourTrueEmotions.com.