“Why don’t you just say ouch?” I looked up into his blue eyes. My back was on top of a bio-energetic roller which is, to say the least, uncomfortable. It was in one of my classes at the Netherlands Institute of Core Energetics, where I was invited to try the roller – a big, round, pipe-like thing designed to bring pressure there where tension is stored in the body and relax it (eventually). Laying there, I clenched my jaws, tightened my muscles even more, and pulled a ‘cool’ face. “So, how does it feel?” my teacher asked me. “It hurts”, I muttered. “So?” “So what?” “So, why don’t you say ouch?” He suggested kindly. His invitation surprised me. Nothing in me had considered expressing my pain. Why would I? I wasn’t dying or anything, I could hold this if I needed to. “Try it”, he encouraged.
“Ouch” I said. To my surprise, it felt relieving. “OUCH” I said, louder this time. I could feel how my face relaxed and my muscles opened. “OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUCH” I yelled at the top of my lungs. I even stamped my feet and brought out my anger towards whoever made me lay on that roller. When I got off and calmed down, I contemplated on what just happened. First, I was in pain, did not express it, instead tightened all my muscles to not feel the pain. Then I said ouch, and my body opened and against my expectations experienced a huge relief.
I just acknowledged my pain. And expressed it. You might want to reflect on your own experience. How often have you felt pain in the past week? Physically or emotionally? And how often have you given this pain more than a ‘go-away-thought’ or an impatient rub with your hands?
𝙷𝚘𝚠 𝚘𝚏𝚝𝚎𝚗 𝚍𝚘𝚎𝚜 𝚢𝚘𝚞𝚛 𝚙𝚊𝚒𝚗 𝚐𝚎𝚝 𝚝𝚘 𝚜𝚊𝚢 ‘𝚘𝚞𝚌𝚑’? What happens when we don’t express our pain? We lose our energy. We might feel depressed, collapsed, or low in energy. We get stuck into a circle of not-feeling, which might feel comfortable for a while, but drains us from our creative force and life-energy. This place is where our inner-critic thrives, and where our compassionate nature is nowhere to be found. This is the vibe from where we might want to drink, watch three episodes of Netflix in a row, crave candy and judge ourselves to be incapable to step up for what we truly want. This lost energy might also show in smaller signs, like the subtle sense of discomfort, or a wondering ‘is this it?‘, signs of doubting and not choosing, and many more. The importance of expressing pain can be explained by the following formula:
𝗜𝗺𝗽𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻 - 𝗘𝘅𝗽𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻 = 𝗗𝗲𝗽𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻
Imagine a beachball. Someone sits on top of it for quite some time. Beachballs are not made to sit on. Regardless, someone presses the ball down with his weight. This is IMpression. Then he gets off, but the imprint of the weight stays in the ball. Now, it feels floppy and half-empty, it doesn’t bounce anymore and it doesn’t get far when he tries throwing it. He gets a pump and puts air into the ball, this is EXpression. The ball becomes round again and is good again for playing with. When no one would inflate the ball, it stays DEpressed, with too little energetic pressure to be a good beachball.
Your physical and emotional system works just like this. Something happens that affects you, for example, someone scolds at you on the street for no reason. This bring an IMprint in your system, whether you’re aware of it or not. You might become angry, or sad, and you have learned to not show that, but continue your way with a straight face. This might be a senseful response in the moment itself, yet we need to not forget that the imprint has been made. Now you come home, and you have this slumbering feeling that it’s not right. What do you do?
You learned, like any other human in our western society to repress your feeling. REpressing, is the opposite of EXpressing.
In such a moment, you can ask yourself the same question my teacher did to me when I was feeling the imprint of the roller in my back: “𝙷𝚘𝚠 𝚍𝚘𝚎𝚜 𝚒𝚝 𝚏𝚎𝚎𝚕?“ When the answer is, ‘it hurts’, then say ‘ouch’.
You can say ouch to yourself, to your partner at home, you can write it in your diary, or punch a pillow. All of these ways express what is going on inside you, which allows your energy to stay congruent with the present moment, meaning, you live that what is alive in you. You acknowledge what you feel, and this is so important to stay in contact with your aliveness, your love, your creativity.
Important here is, you do not need a good reason to justify your pain. Pain is pain.
Take that in: 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗱𝗼 𝗡𝗢𝗧 𝗻𝗲𝗲𝗱 𝗮 𝗴𝗼𝗼𝗱 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗼 𝗳𝗲𝗲𝗹 𝗮 𝗰𝗲𝗿𝘁𝗮𝗶𝗻 𝘄𝗮𝘆. The feeling is the reason. Your mind need not to know right now why this feeling is there before you can express it. Needing a reason, is your number one escape route to avoid facing your pain.
Any feeling of depression needs a counter-movement of expressing. So, when you catch yourself sad, collapsed, unmotivated, uninterested, stuck, glued to your phone, out of contact, in avoidance, then ask yourself: ‘Where does it hurt’? And if you can’t reach there, which is very possible: start moving.
Just start moving. Stamp, dance, box, dance, massage your legs, rub your heart, pull crazy faces and most of all 𝚋𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚝𝚑𝚎.
𝗧𝗵𝗲𝗻 𝗴𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗹𝘆 𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗿𝗮𝗴𝗲 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘀𝗲𝗹𝗳 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘀𝗮𝘆 "𝗢𝗨𝗖𝗛!". I hope this will support you in finding yourself in a compassionate connection to your heart, that it will invite your curiosity and creativity. That this text helps you to invite your energy that is so natural and authentic.
To mention last: the description of the above practice will teach you a healthier way to deal with your feelings and support you in creating new habits concerning your emotional wellbeing. It does not deal with past trauma, with unprocessed feelings from intense events, or with emotional wounding. For this, you’ll need the support of a body-oriented therapist or coach.