Shining the light on your emotions or bringing them to the surface is essential in chronic pain recovery. Most people with chronic pain have suppressed emotions for years or even most of their lives.

When I work with clients to dig themselves out of chronic pain…the darkness that got them there needs to be revealed. It needs to be brought into the light where it has less power. I liken unconscious emotions to monsters hiding under the bed.

Monsters can’t survive the light.

Monsters cannot survive the light. They live in the dark, under the bed, and in the closet. When we turn the light on, we see they can’t survive there. The same goes for our emotions. When we allow them to be felt, they pass.

For most of my life, I have run from my feelings as if they were monsters. As mentioned earlier, this is a common trait for those with TMS. I kept extremely busy. That was my pattern. That is how I avoided my feelings, which eventually led to chronic pain.

Why are we so afraid of feeling?

Strong emotions are hard and hurt. As children, we coped by trying not to feel them. This is common, especially for those of us who didn’t have a safe place to express them. I suppressed mine because my emotions upset my mom.

Even my happy, joyful emotions were too much for my dad, especially when others were around. He kept his kids under control. He didn’t want us to make a scene or draw attention. Patterns we learn in childhood stick until we become aware of them and work on changing them.

How to begin shining the light on your emotions

I am finally learning that I can tend to myself. I don’t have to push through. It’s okay to stop and let ourselves feel. The feelings and sensations I worked so hard to avoid are not scary monsters hiding under the bed.

They are part of me as a whole, and they deserve attention. All of me deserves attention. All of you deserve attention!

Below are some ways you can start. Remember to be really kind and gentle with yourself.

  • Make a daily practice of sitting with yourself and feeling the sensations in your body. Just notice them.
  • Now, try and name them. Is it a sinking feeling in your stomach? Is it openness in your chest? Do they feel uncomfortable? Describe them.
  • If they get too uncomfortable, stop. You will get more comfortable in time. Baby steps.
  • If you feel safe enough, sit with them until the feeling passes. You might notice sadness, anger, emptiness, or loneliness. They are all okay and part of the human experience.
  • Work with a therapist or coach if you need some support.
  • Begin journaling your emotions.

With practice and repetition, you will change your default from running from your emotions, to being okay with feeling them. This process is transforming.

There is pure freedom in feeling.

When we ignore the monsters, they only get bigger and scarier. They follow us around. When we face them…our fears, our hurts, our weaknesses, all those parts of ourselves we want to deny—they get smaller. When we bring them to light, they lose their power.

They are no longer scary. They are just part of our whole human experience. We realize that all of us are okay, including our emotions. We are safe to shine the light on them. Bringing them to light is no longer scary, just part of our human experience.

When we allow ourselves to feel our whole experience, our nervous system settles down, our fear brain begins to take a back seat, and our rational brain can take over. We feel safe. Our world becomes bright and open, and we give our neuropathways one more corrective experience.

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