We continue with a discussion of the Integrative Dynamic of Release, which is the third attribute/stage we encounter as we journey through a process of affective integration (emotional healing). If you are new to the Integrated Approach, I refer you to the previous posts where I discuss the concepts that lay the groundwork for our current discussion of the dynamics of affective and cognitive integration.
In my previous post on Release, I discussed concepts like “open communication” and “free association” that enable us to open and free repressed/suppressed emotions and thoughts within the context of therapy. In this week’s post, I would like to consider how we might also practice this method of “opening and freeing” in our daily lives.
Counselors and Therapists know that it is actually NOT healthy for persons to suppress certain thoughts, feelings, and impulses. The field of Health Psychology has demonstrated how “holding things in” can affect us both psychologically and physiologically. Those who suppress can tend to manifest anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive tendencies, as well as hypertension, migraines, and other body endocrine and pain situations.
Does this mean that we encourage people to just do whatever they want to make themselves feel good? Is Hedonism the solution?
From an integrated perspective, I would consider an “anything goes” approach as the other end of the spectrum of suppression, and we would say that neither extreme represents the path to wellness. Instead, we seek the “middle path” between “legalism” and “hedonism” (see my Psychological Application of Virtues).
Hence, I would like to suggest a few basic interventions that we can utilize in our day-to-day lives that can enable us to experience healthy releases of feelings and thoughts that need not be suppressed.
First, I suggest that my Clients/Patients to let go of expectations of perfection. Let us accept that we are “perfectly imperfect” and move forward with doing well. In this way, the pressure can be lifted and we can feel liberated to reach our best (but not perfect) potentials. Remember the saying from Anne Wilson Schaef: “Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order.”
Second, I encourage people to allow themselves to appropriately emote, that is, express emotion in healthy ways during the course of the day. There is nothing wrong with moments of frustration, disappointment, and even sadness. The goal is to “have our emotions, then think them through.” Appropriate expression is the desired outcome.
Third, I recommend some kind of daily physical activity that can help us clear our daily “emotional cache.” Channel strong thoughts and feelings into positive and healthy activities like hiking, jogging, martial arts, etc.
Finally, it is imperative that we take time each day to “sit with ourselves” in relaxation and meditation (see my CALM Matrix). Find a method that feels right for you, and be sure to do it even when you would rather not. Once you settle in you will be happy that you did.
Okay, I have now provided and briefly discussed four proven methods that can assist us with practicing Release in daily life. However, these recommendations are of little value unless they are operationalized. Therefore, I encourage each of you to get to work on them immediately, and to keep working them until they become second nature. If you do this, Release will become something natural, and you will find that worry, anxiety, and stress will dissipate as your thoughts and feelings integrate.
Next Blog post: Revelation.