Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Get Physical

When working through memories that you’d rather not remember have you ever tried to physically release some of the stress?

A friend of mine bought used dishes and then threw them against a shed wall. The throwing motion and the breaking sound helped her to release anger that she had stored up for years.

Another friend of mine dug a hole and buried letters that she wrote to each of her abusers. The burial released a large portion of her grief and shame that had burdened her since young childhood.

Recently, I threw soppy paper towels at a piece of paper on which a large stick figure represented one of my abusers of the past. I wrote phrases all over the paper. Phrases proclaiming hurtful words and deeds committed against me, phrases naming my feelings, phrases declaring who I want to be, and phrases saying good by to the shame of abuse. I spoke truth aloud as I threw the paper towels. There was something satisfying about hearing the slapping noises and seeing the ink words running and dripping. It worked. By the time I was finished, I felt lighter and freer.

The sky’s the limit on what you choose to do to physically release some of your pent up feelings. I urge you to keep it safe though. Hurting yourself with a physical activity will not help anything. Borrow one of the ideas in this post or use your creativity to design an exercise just for you.

Consider having a trusted friend with you—you don’t need to process alone unless you choose to do so.

Stress releases hormones in our body—and physical activity, tears, and hugs all release anti-stress agents (such as endorphins) into the body. Try getting physical when it feels like the time is right. This tool can be an important part of letting go of the past’s burdens in a way that respects your needs, and also keeps you moving on into your future.

Please post a comment if you’ve had success with a physical way of releasing unwanted baggage.

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Recommended Books

  • 10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages by Karla Downing
  • A Way of Hope by Leslie J. Barner
  • Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them by Paul Hegstrom
  • Battered But Not Broken by Patricia Riddle Gaddis
  • Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Bradshaw on the Family by John Bradshaw
  • Caring Enough to Forgive/Not Forgive by David Augsburger
  • Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
  • Healing the Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan B. Allendar
  • Keeping the Faith: Questions and Answers for the Abused Woman by Marie M. Fortune
  • Perfect Daughters by Robert J. Ackerman, Ph.D.
  • Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics by Herbert L. Gravitz and Julie D. Bowden
  • Safe People by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Slay Your Own Dragons by Nancy Good
  • The Cinderella Syndrome by Lee Ezell
  • The Dance of Anger by Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.
  • The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee
  • Turning Fear to Hope by Holly Wagner Green
  • When Violence Comes Home: Help for Victims of Spouse Abuse by Tim Jackson and Jeff Olson
  • Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft