Real healing, unlike popping a pill to take away the pain, involves recognizing pain, feeling pain, and moving through it to get to the other side. Our culture has a most self-defeating attribute in that we’ve been raised to do anything but feel our pain and face the music of what is really bothering us. As children, we’ve been told, “Don’t be sad.” “Don’t be mad.” “Deal with it.” “Suck it up.” Our religious leaders have said, “Don’t be sexually expressive, open, and comfortable with your libido.” Our corporations have told us, as employees, “The workplace is no place to express your feelings.” Our society says “Don’t express your discontent with the world. Grin and bear it. Show everyone how everything is ok. Smile and take your Soma.” When we bury and suppress our true feelings, we do not live a fraction of how our lives can truly be. Our emotions and feelings are such a powerful force. Ever felt the power you sensed coursing through your veins when you were angry? Now, take all that power and bottle it up somewhere in your body. What happens to all that explosive, fiery energy? What does it do to your system? It causes havoc and makes you sick, it does. Suppression of grief weakens the system, in particular, the lungs, and can even cause a person to stoop and develop a humpback over many years. Suppression of anger affects the liver and also leads to chronic tension and depression. Suppression of sexual desire is probably at the root of most wars and aggression and the most unhappiness in the world, along with the multitudes of physical complaints that result from denial of that total surrendering bliss.
It’s no wonder we turn to conventional medicine as a reflection of our own disconnectedness with what we’re really feeling. We have ultimately drunk the Kool-Aid of our own self-denial. The pharmaceutical company is our perfect enabler in medicating ourselves so we feel nothing, suppress all symptoms, numb the pain, on every level. I’ve been to parties where a large majority of people were able to discuss the ins and outs of current antidepressant drugs on the market. They sounded like they were speaking of grocery store options like carrots, tomatoes, and celery. With our cell phone addiction and myriad ways of isolating ourselves, we’re the quick fix, no-time, disconnected culture that is eradicating the most vital elements for a happy, healthy life.
A Social Experiment
Out of curiosity, and as a sort of miniature social experiment of my own, I’ve asked many people the following question: “Is it better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all?” Upon reflection, most people answer that it is better to have loved and lost. Some say it’s better to not have loved at all. I know that those people that say “no love” have vaulted away their heart along with their pain so deeply that they’re already living with one foot in the grave. I also ask people another social experiment question, which, interestingly, is a twin sister to the previous question. It is as follows: “Would you rather feel a lot of joy and a lot of pain, or feel nothing at all?” Despite what people may answer, that they’d rather live with joy and pain, most people actually choose to live feeling nothing at all. They’d rather stick their head in the sand than face the oncoming challenge. Like a blind person who miraculously gains the gift of sight and jumps around for joy and wonder, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing a few people rejoice and proclaim with great wonder at how they hadn’t been feeling their entire lives and they’ve just now begun to feel. Those lucky few I’ve met that thawed their feelings from deep cryofreeze are a minority amongst the greater majority of emotional zombies. Most seek every diversion and substance to stop the inner pain of their wounds from surfacing.
Well guess what? Those devoted to listening to their feelings, however they may feel, will outlive the masses seeking emotional oblivion and the quality of their lives will be richer, better, fuller. I’ve seen in my practice that once people start to vent anger, squeeze tears, thrust lust, their cheeks get rosier. The edges of their lips curl up higher during smile time. Their pulse is stronger and steadier and they have a spring in their step. The smell of the roses and baby spruce bring huge pulsations of pleasure. And yeah, they’re more in touch with the suffering they’ve bumped into along their path this lifetime. It hurts more. But it feels more too. It feels deeply the love, the laughs. And that is what makes us alive and healthy.
Life in Balance
The heart beats and pumps blood out, as it also draws it back in. The sun rises and sets and with that cycle comes the hot and the cold. Life is not meant to always feel fine. The pain is the signal from a beacon, the sniffer of a hound dog, charging you to follow its scent to the head of the trail where whatever is stinking lies. Life is a Yang and a Yin. The world, dominated for millennia by the Yang, has taught us that emotion is weakness. It’s not. It’s the exact opposite. It’s the juice that keeps the plants erect. It’s the sound and swell of the music as it hits your heart and ear, not just the bits and bytes of the mp3 file on the SD card of your cell phone.
I’ve had several patients tell me “I used to be happy before I began seeing you as a patient.” Uhem. What they’re really saying is, “Before I met you, I was completely in denial of how unhappy I was.” Ignorance may be bliss, but it’s not good for your health.
Make a commitment to really listen to how you feel. If it hurts, let it hurt. Like your frozen toes in winter, it hurts like hell as they thaw out. But you know they won’t hurt forever. So too is it with the buried, avoided, drugged out feelings we’ve been doing everything we can to disregard.
Do you want the power of your emotions capable of lifting cars, melting ice, and bringing enormous amounts of pleasure working for you or against you? Do you want to see the lights, darks, pastels and poo colours of this world, or the fifty shades of dull grayness and emotional disconnect?
Come on! Cry. Let it out. It’s ok. We’re all hurting inside.
Moshe Daniel Block, ND, HMC is the author of The Revolution of Naturopathic Medicine: Remaining True to Our Philosophy, a book about the philosophy and practice of naturopathic medicine. He graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (Toronto, Ontario) in 2000. Dr Block then went on to complete the Homeopathic Master Clinician course with Louis Klein, FSHom, in 2003. He specializes in autoimmune illness and myasthenia gravis, a disease he was personally diagnosed as having and from which he has healed himself. He teaches the very wisdom and knowledge that helped him heal himself and others in his Holistic Counseling course for NDs, students, and other health care professionals. Some of the other projects Dr Block has worked on can be found at his private practice website, his book website, and his global website.