Emotional DetoxificationPosted on Saturday, January 12th, 2013 at 1:58 pm in All of Jennifer Lehr MFT's Blog, Emotional Healing, Self Reflection, The Therapeutic Process.
I read the an article about health recently and was struck by this paragraph:
We are in a constant exchange with our environment, which is governed by the laws of osmosis. If mercury is in the fish we eat, over time we have mercury in our system. We cannot keep our system pristine and clean, because we are separated from our toxic environment only by semi-permeable membranes: skin and mucosal surfaces. Maintaining relative cleanliness requires a number of inherent detoxification systems to work overtime against the osmotic pressure of the incoming toxins. – Dietrich Klinghardt, MD, PhD
It was obvious to me that physically we are not separate from the world around us, that we are intricately connected to our environment. But we tend to be less aware of how we are also intricately part of the emotional and spiritual world. In actuality, we are impacted by everything.
We exist within a myriad of events and situations, images and stories that occur constantly and are positive and nurturing, as well as painful and toxic; the time a kid called you a name at school; when your parents yelled at you or had a fight with each other that you overheard; the quiet moment you spent with your partner, the story of someone who was raped or killed; the images of a natural disaster; the kind words a friend said to us; the memory of a special moment with a loved one or pet; the picture of an abused animal or child; the quality of the food we eat; the thrill of an accomplishment; the lying or greed of those in positions of power. The list of what touches us is endless.
Humans as a group are becoming more sensitive to actions that are about love and actions that are not. It is as if we are instantly registering how much love there is in each situation. The less love there is in an emotional or spiritual event, the more likely it will have a toxic affect on us.
Like a longstanding poison, the accumulation of these events or energies can overwhelm us. Other times we can more quickly release the impact of a negative event. Some of us have learned how to ‘shut off’ so that we don’t feel what is occurring around us. Others of us are so sensitized that we feel everything intensely.
While we may be able to escape the impact of negative events for a while, perhaps by focusing on work, reading a book, or developing another method of coping, we may eventually be overwhelmed or find that our way of coping has crippled the ultimate expression and happiness of our lives. Or we may respond because we feel these transgressions. One way we respond is by outrage – “I will not let you treat me that way.” Other times we have to find another way to keep ourselves being pulled down by negativity or horrific events or bad behavior so that it doesn’t enter into us and hurt us.
Last night I was talking to a man who is a chemical engineer about Fracking and the dangers to our ground water etc. He talked a bit about how the drilling goes miles down vertically breaking through rock, and then moves horizontally. I had an image of a dentist drilling teeth, or a mosquito sucking blood. We discussed the sustainability of the systems our lives are embedded in. How do we continue to live as we do, while not plundering our earth? It is a terrible conundrum. I feel myself as a good person, caught in a destructive system – and there is no quick or easy way out. This knowing leaves me with a heaviness that is not easily relieved. I am caught in what we are all caught in, our relative powerlessness over the larger events of this world. This is the difficulty of awareness – and yet to not be aware is to not be fully alive.
But we are alive and are surrounded by toxins of many kinds. Because there is so much that is ‘toxic’ around us and impacting us, whether in the physical environment, or in the actions taken that affect the physical environment or our emotional worlds, it is important to find a way to ‘detox’ – which is the process of removing toxic substances or qualities. How do we detoxify? How do we protect ourselves from the many emotional, spiritual, political and psychic toxins we are surrounded by? How do we remove that picture we saw in the news that lodged into our psych and hurt us? How do we heal from a parent that was unavailable or abusive in our childhood? How do we release the angry words our spouse yelled at us?
While our feelings help us know, express and release how we’ve been impacted, it is our changed beliefs that show we’ve detoxified. Lets use the feeling of shame as an example because shame is probably the most toxic feeling. We feel shame when our environment has ‘told’ us that we are not okay and we have taken that in and made it a part of us. June for example, is suicidal at times. June witnessed a great deal of violence as a child and was also sexually abused by her uncle as well as had a multitude of other experiences that were destructive to her sense of self. She has taken in the message of her lack of value and incorporated it into her psychological and emotional system. If we follow June’s feelings of shame to her beliefs, we will find that she doesn’t believe she is worthy. She doesn’t believe she is valuable. She believes in part that she is shameful. For Jane to detoxify she must change this belief. In order to change it, she must recognize that she has it – that underneath she doesn’t feel worthy. But we don’t change a belief by simply making a mental decision. Changing this belief will include experiencing and expressing her feelings of shame, her anger at being mistreated and used, her grief at not having had a better experience, at not having been valued or honored by others in her life and so on. There is an organic emotional process that allows this change to occur. This is why deep psychological work takes time.
First the feelings must be unpacked and experienced and then the attending beliefs. And then new experiences must occur to allow these beliefs to shift and the ‘detoxification’ to occur. This includes a new way of organizing oneself around that experience. For Jane, she must talk about her ‘shame’ and share it, so that it does not fester away hidden. As she talks about it and claims this wound or toxin as a defining event in her life, and receives understanding and compassion, this ‘shame’ will transfer to a belief of her own value – because she is learning to act as a person of value. The new message becomes ‘I believe that I am valuable. I do not accept the message I was given, therefore I do not hide. What I have lived through has made me who I am. I have become strong and more human in overcoming it.’ The process of emotional detoxification is intense and painful, which is why many avoid it.
As a couple travels through their journey together, they will undoubtedly have the opportunity to help each other ‘detoxify’ from their own emotional toxins from the past. Whether they will choose to learn how to do this or not is an individual decision for each couple.
In terms of group consciousness, the beliefs that ‘everyone deserves to be treated well,’ or ‘nobody’s needs should subjugate anothers’ are beliefs without a toxic impact. They are healthy beliefs. These are beliefs that will allow us to confront and detoxify our selves and our world. These are beliefs that recognize the intrinsic value of all and the interconnectedness of all, rather than the toxic beliefs where only some deserve or are of value.
I want to live in a world that is beautiful. I want to be part of its beauty, not its horror, not its terror. I’m willing to go through the pain it takes to detoxify from all I’ve experienced that has hurt me. I am willing to live by principals of love. I imagine all of us in our beauty and full potential. The wounds we carry no longer hurt us because we have done the work of detoxification. Instead they are part of our story and part of our strength.
I close my eyes and I imagine our earth as a white translucent globe, ethereal and beautiful, radiating love and light, like a giant full moon glowing in the night sky. I hold this image in contrast to the battle-scarred planet we currently inhabit. It is this mythic image of love that acts as a beacon. It guides us out of the battleground of struggle and survival and encourages us, leading us into the future with hope, love and courage.
2 Responses to “Emotional Detoxification”
Leave a Reply
No comments yet