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Mental Wellness

3 Signs You May be Emotionally Constipated

When someone or something shows up in our lives, throws us off track, and preoccupies our thoughts, our body may be looking to process an undigested emotion.

I am in line at CVS picking up a bunch of small items. The woman running the cash register looks annoyed. Although she's doing a great job ringing people up and saying "have a nice day" as she hands over their receipt, I can’t help but wonder if the way I'm staring at her, holding my items close to the vest, is only making it worse. So I start to fidget and change my position, thinking perhaps if I stand in a less armored way she'll feel better. There I go again, catching myself wandering into someone else’s business.

When someone or something shows up in our lives, throws us off track, and preoccupies our thoughts, what may really be happening is our body is looking to process an undigested emotion. Emotional constipation happens when you avoid and hold in (rather than process) your feelings.

Now, with that said, going around telling everyone you feel uncomfortable, frustrated, and stressed isn’t socially acceptable. Fortunately, you don’t have to actually talk about your emotions to process them.

I've found that most people will do anything but feel their emotions. They would rather put the majority of their attention on figuring someone else out. The challenge is when your attention goes elsewhere, your body has no choice but to withhold and, in some cases, bind up the emotions that are attempting to surface. This causes bloating and inflammation in both your mind and body.

Here are three signs you might be emotionally constipated:

  1. Facial Tension. When your face feels tense and you have a hard time contriving a genuine smile, this could be a sign you are emotionally constipated. To support yourself, be sure to soften your cheekbones, and relax the corners of your eyes when you breathe.
  2. Distractibility. Being over-focused on others or having a hard time being present can be signs of emotional constipation. Remember, most of us aren't mind readers. Rather than wonder what others are thinking and feeling, redirect your awareness by noticing your feet on the floor. This will help slow down those careless thoughts.
  3. Self-Consciousness. Not everything is about you. With that said, my motto is: if you're feeling discomfort, own it. Self-consciousness is one of those sneaky ways you might avoid what you're really feeling. Rather than fidget, consider breathing more deeply through your nose. Inhale and inflate your lower abdomen on the count of three. Exhale and deflate it on the count of three.