Last week’s blog covered how memories and emotions get stuck in our brain. This week is about how memories and emotions get stuck in our body.
You’ve likely heard the term “swallow your feelings” used metaphorically, but this can also be an actual physical response. Very often people who swallow their feelings wind up with digestion and gut issues.
First, let’s talk about how our brain works with our body. It goes like this: We face a situation, and our brain activates (aka triggers) an emotion which, in turn, activates a physical response. But if the cycle is interrupted, that activation becomes stuck.
We may not be consciously thinking about it when this process is activated. That’s why our response to certain situations or people may seem out of proportion to an event, not always matching what’s happening. For example, if we tense up every time we hear a loud noise.
When this happens, our brain sends a neurological signal to the muscles to take a particular action, but that signal is incomplete, so the impulse to run or fight gets stuck, or trapped, in our body. That neurological/electrical charge from our brain to our muscles is then physically activated each time that memory or emotion is activated or triggered. The memory activates the physical response again and again, and we may not even know it. An emotion can activate a physical response as well. For example, every time we feel a certain emotion, we tense up in a particular area of our body.
Any Unresolved Memory
A memory does not need to be traumatic to get stuck in our body. Any unresolved or incomplete situation from the past may be stuck within you somewhere.
The purpose of our emotions is to move us to physical action. A simple example is if we stub our toe and yell ouch! It’s a simple process: Physically something happens, we feel pain, the brain acknowledges it and forms an emotional response, and then a signal is sent to the vocal cords to express the emotion.
This simple process gets stuck, though, if you were unable or unprepared to physically complete the action. Maybe it was a simple disagreement we didn’t expect and we get tongue-tied. A simple, mild answer comes to mind later, but the moment has passed, so we move on, never giving it another thought. But it’s still there in our subconscious, and a similar situation or even tone of voice may activate the process again. We might get flustered and not really know why.
Maybe, as a child, we’re playing with a friend when we expect something bad is going to happen—perhaps we think we’ll get hit by a ball or think a friend is going to fall from the playset. We brace our shoulders and neck, but nothing actually happens. That physiological response may now be stuck in our neck and shoulders. As an adult, we may now become tense under certain circumstances and hardly notice our shoulders are up near our ears. “Our body keeps score” is a common saying.
What To Do
During an Aroma Freedom Technique (AFT) session, a certified practitioner guides you through connecting your mind, body, and emotions, using your sense of smell to clear what is stuck. Other processes like EMDR or EFT use that mind-body-emotion connection with sight or touch. Once that connection is active in the brain, it can be cleared. Here’s what makes AFT unique:
We have five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. Our brain has the ability to ignore and push aside our senses of sight, sound, touch, and taste. However, our brain cannot dismiss our sense of smell. There is no such filter as with our other senses. AFT uses our sense of smell to gently clear the emotional charge and the physiological response stuck in our body.
You do not need to share the memory or thought with the practitioner. In fact, it’s better for us if you don’t and keep it private. We don’t need the details to guide you along your path.
Learn more about Aroma Freedom Technique here
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