As I was driving in my car one day, I began listening closely to the lyrics on the radio. In one song, Adele crooned, “You had my heart inside your hand… and you played it to the beat.” Next, I listened as Neil Young claimed he was “searching for a heart of gold” while Mick Jagger complained about the girl with a “heart of stone.”
I found it fascinating that that so many of us – songwriters included – sense the interplay between the body and our emotions… especially when it comes to matters of the heart.
What Heart Pain Means
The heart and sternum are common body sites for physical discomfort. So when my client Taylor commented that, in addition to her interpersonal challenges at work, she was also experiencing pain in that area, I wasn’t surprised. Specifically, she mentioned the sternoclavicular joint being swollen and painful – so much so that it hurt her to lift anything. Knowing that a woman’s pain in the right clavicle relates to relationships with other men, it made perfect sense that she would experience soreness in this area whenever she interacted with her domineering male boss.
Pain around the heart can be linked to intimacy issues and struggles with openness in relationships. But it doesn’t stop there… slumped shoulders and hunching over are just a few of the other body postures you’ll begin to assume on a regular basis when emotional protection is the issue. You may even feel the desire to assume a stance that says, “Stay away!” with your hands pushing outward in the direction of any perceived threats.
Holding yourself in a protective pose is your body’s way of folding itself around the body sites and corresponding emotions it wishes to guard: the loss or hurt that lives in the heart, lungs, and diaphragm; the fear that is trapped in your shoulders, clavicle, and sternum; and the anger in your hands as you feel the need to push away any incoming negative forces or toxic people.
When you experience this physical pain, you may assume that the connection begins and ends with your current reality. However, it is more likely that the genesis of the hurt can be found in your early childhood.
Emotional Band-Aids Don’t Work
Most likely, you were involved in relationships with others as a young child that caused you to feel that you needed to protect yourself. To manage your feelings, you would have developed various coping mechanisms. And you would have also stored these wounded feelings deep in your body. With time, those trapped emotions began to manifest themselves as aches, pains, and other physical symptoms.
The goal, then, is to release and heal the emotional pain so you can respond in healthier ways, instead of hiding from others, repressing your emotions, or lashing out in exasperation and desperation.
Broken-Hearted No More
Getting to the root of your pain has a three-fold advantage. First, you’ll heal the childhood wound that caused you so many years of distress and suffering. Next, you’ll stop being triggered in the present by people and situations that remind you of your past: once you heal, you will no longer need to react to similar situations with dysfunctional responses. And finally, the physical pain will no longer be a part of your life. Clearly, releasing the emotions does more than soothe your feelings – it soothes your entire body and changes the way you interact with others.
You’ll also notice that your body posture will respond to the healing. From your head and neck to your torso, the way you arrange your body will shift. These subtle changes will evolve over time, and you’ll eventually discover the physical arrangement that works best for you. But don’t be fooled by thinking these changes are only external, as this rearrangement of your posture signals that your interactions with others and yourself have changed, too.
Use my upcoming guided meditation on how to establish healthy emotional protection so that you can connect with these aching areas and provide the comfort and nurturing that you’ve been searching for over the years. You’ll be glad you did.