Many health conscious folks cleanse our bodies with detox diets. But when was the last time you thought about doing an emotional detox? After all, living in a toxic and problematic world takes an emotional toll. In varying degrees, the pain and suffering we experience can become toxic to our vital life force .... if we don’t let it out.
I felt this this past week when humanity experienced yet another horrific tragedy. Pile tragedy upon hardship and sometimes we can be strong for too long. When we endure a hardship, our physical and emotional stamina kicks into high gear. We may tell ourself keep going, push through it, yet another voice whispers a deeper truth: it’s out of control, I’m in pain.
Do we really need to hold it together, to "be strong"? Maybe what we really need to do is fall apart, to unravel at the seams.
Here are some of my ideas for emotionally detoxing:
1. Acknowledge how painful it really is.
The Buddha’s First Noble Truth is: Life Is Suffering. If Buddha said this was true for everyone, you certainly don’t need to downplay your own suffering.
2. Be honest with yourself and others.
Stop sugar-coating the truth. Often, and especially when we’re dealing with a chronic or long-term stress, we think that by being honest about our difficulties we’ll be perceived as negative or burdensome by loved ones. Sometimes things are so truly painful I find I want to numb out and do anything but feel, but minimizing my emotions is a short leap from stuffing my feelings.
3. Let it out.
Cry. Don’t hold back the tears.
4. Don’t answer emails or take calls.
Facebook can be the ultimate distraction from your emotions, so sometimes we need to unplug to really feel.
5. Feel sorry for yourself.
As long as we don’t get stuck here, it's okay (necessary, even!) to do this.
6. Take a break.
Let go of anything you don’t have to do – at least for the day or week.
7. Go easy on media.
Don’t watch or engage in any activity that makes you feel worse.
8. Surround yourself with things, people, books, pets who connect you to You.
When you are feeling truly connected to your self, you are in spiritual connection to a source that is peaceful, healing and kind.
9. Watch any show that warms your heart.
For me that's Ghost Whisperer, my current go-to show. It doesn't have to be yours, but be sure whatever you pick reinforces the positive face of humanity, not the negative.
10. Cultivate more compassion for yourself.
Which is ultimately what the process of emotional detoxification is about: being more compassionate and kind to you. Know that it’s easy to be compassionate when a person or animal is suffering, but much harder to do so for our self. Start by treating your self as you would your best friend. Indulge her or him. Listen. Take her shopping. Make her a favorite meal. Be a hermit together. Stay in bed all day. Become your own BFF.