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  • SuePattonThoele

Encouraging Expression

Twenty years ago I had the profound honor of being in the birthing room supporting a first-time mom-to-be. Labor had been long and intense, and the young woman was beyond exhaustion. Until hearing it was too late for an epidural, Mom had been stoic and quiet, but shoved to the brink as pushing began, she started making appropriate sounds and voicing fears that she couldn’t go on. Her husband was unfailingly encouraging and supportive, but the doctor—a woman, I’m ashamed to say—told her to stop yelling (which she wasn’t) and declared all that noise didn’t help (which wasn’t much and very well could have helped release pent-up energy). Shocked and incensed, I told the mother to make whatever noise she needed to, but she was successfully silenced by “authority.” Until she cried with happiness when her healthy son was given to her, this valiant new mom did not utter another word.

What the less-than-compassionate doctor didn’t seem to know is that expression is essential. Pent-up emotion needs outlets. Unexpressed toxic energy lodges in our cells and can create dis-ease of many kinds. If you feel the need “to put a sock in it,” as a Texan friend says, please give yourself permission to express freely... but safely. I am not talking about expression that puts you in harm’s way or is unloving or inappropriate, like making a mother-bashing wedding toast. I’m encouraging healthy, cathartic, mostly private expression that can include sobbing or laughing, private shouts and swears that give voice to new and ancient griefs. Physical exertion such as shouting “NO!” as you hit a bed with a tennis racket is also a great way to get energy moving.

Personally and with clients, I’ve used throwing eggs at trees, punching a body bag, hitting telephone books with a rubber hose, and, of course, the old standby—screaming and shouting in the privacy of my own house. I find each of these methods helpful, safe, and satisfying outlets for pent-up energy. There are countless ways to express effectively and constructively, and I’m sure you have some of your own.

During your day...

  • If you need to express feelings, give yourself permission to do so in ways that make you feel good about yourself.

  • Let it out!

Trust your feelings and urges. Energy doesn’t lie.

Excerpted from The Woman's Book of Strength by Sue Patton Thoele. Available on Mango and Amazon.

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