Are You Emotionally Constipated? Empty your Shit Sack.

Some folks think that certain emotions are unacceptable, like anger or sadness, so they “stuff” them. They keep busy, avoid, and/or deny emotions that they don’t like. I am here to say that if this is you, you may become backed up in the emotional tailpipe. You may become full of shit.

The human brain is wired to experience a certain range of emotions so the idea that one can avoid emotions or deny them away makes no sense. I propose to you that we carry unresolved emotions around like a backpack. Let’s call it your shit sack. If we keep stuffing and stuffing into the shit sack, eventually a couple of bad situations arise. Either the shit starts to seep out the sides, and we see unhealthy behaviors like overeating, drinking too much alcohol, using drugs, edginess, etc. Alternatively, the shit sack can break open, and a person can experience a shit explosion — an anxiety attack, a panic attack, a temper tantrum, etc.

We stuff resentment, grudges, and fears into the shit sack. Sometimes we drag out our shit sacks and take a big whiff or let others smell it to remind ourselves how justified we are in carrying the shit sack. Why do we do this? It could be a variety of reasons, including a perceived lack of skill to manage the emotions, a desire to hang onto the past, and fear of change. Sometimes we just want to feel sorry for ourselves or want others to feel sorry for us. However, the sacks get awfully heavy and, after a while, no one wants to be around us with that terrible smell.

If this is you, it is time for an enema or a dumping of the shit sack. Where do you start? While it might be scary, it is simple. First, you start by acknowledging your emotions when they are happening. Note how you feel. Name it. Describe it. Wonder about why you feel that way. What is your inner voice (your self-talk) saying to you? What evidence do you have that it is true? Where do you feel it in your body? I like to recommend to folks that they begin a journal to fully analyze emotions. The more practice you have, the easier and more clear it becomes.

There is something really strange about journaling. James Pennebaker, Ph.D. has studied and written a lot about journaling. Memories and experiences are stored all over the brain. One theory is that as you write about things, you are able to put words to your experience. Then, the brain can file away the experience where it needs to go within the brain. Sometimes things bother us because we don’t know what to do with them. Other times we just want to hang onto things. I can’t change what you want. I can only tell you that you are choosing to hurt yourself when you hang onto that shit. That, again, is why you become full of shit.

Talking about how you feel can also help you better understand, but it is not good to keep talking about the same thing over and over with no resolution. That doesn’t empty your shit sack it just keeps it open. I know that some people get intimidated by emotions. It just feels too vague, and the interventions seem too touchy feely. I don’t know what to tell you about that except to say that I studied the human brain and behavior for 10 years in school, and I have practiced research based techniques to ensure healthy human function for 20 years. This stuff works.

I am here to tell you that emotions aren’t good or bad. They just are. They are a fact of life. Therefore, you can’t wish them away. It is kind of like how you need to wash your face or your will get acne or sores or just have a nasty face. I am talking about emotional hygiene. Get rid of your shit sack. Don’t fill it back up. Deal with your emotions as you have them. Acknowledge. Write. Talk. Then, move on mother fucker.

Author of Move on Motherf*cker: Live, Laugh, and Let Sh*t Go. Using CBT, mindfulness, humor, and profanity to feel better.