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Lose Your Emotional Baggage

emotional_baggage

Nora Isaacs

1. OWN YOUR FEELINGS. If you constantly blame other people, it's likely they're reflecting qualities in yourself that you haven't fully acknowledged, says David Simon, co-founder and medical director of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing at the La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif. If you're serious about an emotional detox, it's time to stop being reactive and to start accepting responsibility for your emotions.

2. IDENTIFY THE EMOTION. If you bury your feelings, you can't complete this essential task. Simon recommends formulating a sentence: "I feel--" Fill in the blank with whatever toxic emotions you're storing up, such as anger, sadness, shame, rage, or loneliness. "As clearly as possible, define and describe what you're feeling," counsels Simon.

3. MONITOR YOUR BODY. The energy of an emotion must be dealt with before it can be processed further. Observe a feeling as it arises, and bring your awareness to any bodily reactions. "By simply experiencing the physical sensations," Simon notes, "some of the emotional charge will dissipate, allowing you to hear the message the emotion carries."

4. CREATE A LITTLE SPACE. Find a quiet time when you choose not to read the paper, watch TV, or engage in energy-draining conversations. Instead, listen to soothing music, eat healthy foods, get a massage, and do some yoga or deep breathing. "This creates the space you need to identify your issues and bring into more conscious awareness both the feelings and the patterns tied to a perpetual sense of emotional stress and lack of fulfillment," says Simon.

5. WRITE IT ALL DOWN. As issues arise and emotions become clear, record them in a journal, or in a letter to yourself or to someone who has hurt you (don't send it, though!). "Allow similar memories to come to the surface and write about those as well," Simon advises. "Use language that accurately and fully expresses what you feel about the situation."

6. FIND RELEASE THROUGH RITUAL. Once you've identified the toxicity, create a ritual to release it: Throw a rock into the ocean, dance, walk, breathe, listen to music, write a letter and burn it, call someone you've been avoiding--whatever helps you consciously let go of poisonous emotions and symbolizes what is shifting. If you'd prefer to share your ritual with a friend, find someone you trust who'll be empathetic without attempting to solve or judge your problem.

7. REWARD YOURSELF. Enjoy a gourmet meal, luxurious bath, or day off. "It takes conscious awareness and a commitment to personal growth to go through the process of emotional release," says Simon, "so reward yourself for your good work." 


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