I posted this tip in my Dream Alchemist Daily Tips Section:
“Do you feel exhausted after doing something emotionally challenging, like walking through fear or breaking a habit? The action might have been simple, like making a phone call. You may be thinking that it’s silly to be so tired. Be especially loving with yourself at this time. Rest and reward yourself. Swimming against the Emotional Undertow of old learned emotions uses more energy than swimming in a marathon.”
I also posted it in my Facebook Update. Here are some of the answers I’ve gotten so far:
“Thank you so much. I feel like you read my mind, it is very difficult to say no to people who have been using me for years, just the fear of saying no has been very difficult and exhausting, but after the storm I feel much better and respect myself much more.”
“YES. This is so what I needed to read today. It’s hard to move on sometimes, past the bad habits.”
This brings up a couple of questions about emotional breakthrough, and that’s what I want to explore in this post.
- Why do we experience paralyzing fear or resistance to do certain things that we know rationally are good for us and which we don’t have any skill-impairment to do?(like saying no, making a phone call, selling something or talking about what we do, for example.)
- Why are bad habits seem like impenetrable barriers?
- What can I do to diminish the anxiety and fear and take action from a place of peace?
Here are some answers to these questions, from a shamanic point of view.
I use the term Emotional Undertow to describe the cumulative emotional charge connected to learned beliefs or habits. An example will help.
Mary has been hiding backstage while others get the credit. She’s done this all her life. Now, at 35, she realizes that this has sabotaged her success, prosperity and self-esteem. Mary has created a new line of products that she is promoting and needs to make herself visible in order to sell them. While Mary has previously helped many people sell and she has all the necessary skills, every time she picks up the phone or sends an email to make herself and her brand visible, she goes through high levels of anxiety, days of procrastination, sweaty hands and mental confusion. What is going on?
Mary learned very early on in her childhood that she could not be visible. If she was visible…(fill in the blanks.) The learned belief may be that
- she would not be loved,
- she was bad or
- something terrible would happen as punishment for her arrogance.
This belief was most often communicated emotionally, without direct words or warning, but with great intensity.
The child learned this emotionally, nor rationally. She felt this belief as a life or death warning. “If I am visible, if I shine, then, something terrible will happen. I will not be loved. I am a bad person and God will punish me.”
The emotions inherited with the learned belief were:
- Terror of being alone and not being loved if she became visible or took credit for her gifts and work.
- Extreme shame and feelings of being evil, of being an opportunist of being arrogant if she name her worth or expressed her gifts.
- Exaggerated feelings of dread and life-threatening fear that something terrible will happen the minute she steps out of her Invisibility Cloak.
The depth, weight and pull of your Emotional Undertow
These learned emotions are so threatening and forbidding to a child, that they create an emotional barrier.
For 35 years, Mary has fed these learned emotions. Every time that Mary wanted to shine, to express herself in public, to take credit for what she created, these same emotions reared their ugly head.
But Mary, not having the awareness of what was behind her fear or lacking the emotional skills to deal with them, repressed them.
At 35, Mary has 35 emotional tons of this threatening, shaming emotions accumulated. That’s her Emotional Undertow.
Emotions are flowing energies that run through our Energy Body, stirring up memories, signaling nerve responses, evoking images, generating physical states and turning on mental pathways. They are very powerful. More powerful than thoughts, because they carry charge that can ignite certain thoughts associated to them, so that your rational thoughts don’s stand a chance.
The good news is that these energies are constantly changing. That’s why they are archetypically associated with water. They can change form, color, temperature, density and electrical charge. They can be transformed. That is why you need to feel them, follow them to their source and then release the parts that are toxic. Imagine that you are combing them. Take out guilt, shame, learned fear, interpretations, etc. What is left is the pure power of emotions to propel you. What is left is your passion.
What you can do
When we take action against these learned limits of behavior or learned beliefs, these Emotional Undertow stirs up and pulls us back from the shore of our goals. We then need to use all we got to release that pull and move forward. Here are several things that help:
- Feel what you feel. Give yourself time, space and permission to experience your emotion fully. Do not judge yourself. Do not badger yourself. Do not confuse yourself with your emotions. Seat with it, hold it. Feel it. Love yourself with it, through it and beyond it.
- Do not identify with the emotions. Part of the problem is that as a child, you identify yourself with these overpowering emotions that ran through you. Now you can detach. Before allowing this Emotional Undertow to flow through you and experience these powerful emotions, seat breathing deeply for a few minutes, and feel your Core Self. This is your Soul-self. It holds your inner strength and wisdom. See it as an ancient tree that stands still in the midst of activity. Stand in the infinite power of your Soul and detach from the emotions as you feel them. This means that you allow yourself to feel them, but you don’t drown in them because you can observe them without confusing yourself with these old, learned emotions.
- Self-parent yourself. One of the reasons this makes no sense to the adult you is because it is NOT the adult you who is carrying the Emotional Undertow. It is one or more of your Inner Children. Talk to them. Hold them in your arms. Listen to them and help them to FEEL loved, protected and ALLOWED to engage in the new behavior. This is a process, not a one shot deal.
- You need to go within, recognize, clarify and release the learned beliefs and emotions in your unconscious. If you can’t find the hidden beliefs or emotions, or if they create undue anxiety, you can support your clearance process by:
- Working with a coach, spiritual teacher, shaman or minister
- Meditation and reflection
- Help from your spiritual guides
- Reflection in nature, where the Sacred World will show you guidance
- Journal writing
- Shamanic Psychic Hunting.
- Take action. Your emotions are learned signals from the past. Every time you take action, they subside a bit more. Eventually, the present results will override the past domestication and the emotions will go.
- Get help and support. Whether a therapist, coach, support group or online community, you need the support of positive people to nourish the emotions that will build your Emotional Streams of Affluence, the positive emotional build up that carries you to your desired destiny.
- Use a daily visualization practice or rituals that helps you transform the Emotional Undertow into Emotional Streams of Affluence. Try Shifting the World, a practice I teach in this blog.
Does this help? Let me know!
If you have any other question, feel free to ask it in the comments below or ask it here, and I will gladly answer.
Light and love,
The Dream Alchemist
For help on releasing old emotions, visit the Sedona Method at:
For help transmuting emotions, releasing toxic beliefs and breaking through resistance in a gentle way, learn EFT. Get the free manual that explains the Emotional Freedom Technique here:
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