We talk a lot on this blog about how to deal with energy stuck in your body. There are many ways to move this energy out and release yourself from what is holding you back. But what happens when the energy stuck in your body isn’t your own? What do you do with it then? It getting rid of it as easy as letting it go and watching it float away?
Energy comes in many forms and from many sources. Emotional energy is attached to our feelings about events, people, and places. Most of the time our emotions arise and then recede naturally. However, certain charged emotional events such as accidents, breakups, crises, arguments, betrayals, and more can create upset that doesn’t necessarily clear naturally. This emotional energy can get stuck in your body, causing problems further down the road. Even the most emotionally stable people I have met have pockets old emotional energy stuck in their bodies. It's extremely common.
There is also mental energy that comes from thoughts, beliefs, and patterns of thinking. Some of this energy is shared by groups or families who teach ways of thinking and belief systems. Some of it is simply created through a lifetime of experiences. If you have beliefs about how much you hate a certain sport or sports team, there is mental energy surrounding that belief. Sometimes mental energy exists simply because the belief exists. Other mental energy is so caught up in a web of beliefs about your identity and place in the world that you couldn’t easily define it even if you wanted to.
There is another layer of energy we generally refer to as spiritual energy. This is often related to your beliefs about spiritual ideas, good and evil, morality, and purpose. It usually exists at the level of societies, religious groups, cultures, and families but we often carry our own unique spiritual beliefs as well. Spiritual energy can get stuck in our bodies when what we believe doesn’t match what we experience in our lives. This creates a disconnect that causes stress. I see this most often when life experiences bring learning and growth that requires someone to let go of old, outdated beliefs. There are many people walking around with old spiritual energy that is in conflict with who they are now and who they are trying to become.
In all these instances, the emotional, mental, and spiritual energy we discussed is your own. Once you are aware of its existence, you can make choices to release and heal that energy. You can do the emotional, mental, and spiritual work to change your beliefs and grow into new ways of being. It may not be easy, but you can process the changes yourself and free your energy to move forward.
Other people’s stuff
What many people don’t know is that sometimes the energy you are trying to change is not your own. Almost all of us hold on to stuff that isn’t ours. In some ways that makes it easier to get rid of, while in other ways it makes it more challenging. It's like a house full of old things that might be interesting but is mostly just junk we don't need.
I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t carry around someone else’s emotional energy in their body somewhere. The people with the most extra emotional energy tend to be the empathetic and empathic among us. They often feel so deeply for others that they unconsciously “take on” the other people’s emotional energy and store it in their bodies. It’s a natural reaction to try to ease someone else’s burden by taking some of it, but energetically, it’s a bad habit. Once you get that emotional energy in your body, it’s hard to let it go. Your body doesn’t know what to do with it, so it just ends up hanging around causing trouble.
Another way to pick up the emotional energy of others is to mix it with your own and just hold on to it as a unit. Think about the pandemic: being stuck at home, worrying about paying your bills, wondering who would get sick, being angry at authorities, etc. Even if you didn’t directly experience all these emotions, in many ways we all collectively did. There is so much energy surrounding the pandemic that is mixed up with your own that it is hard to know how to process it. Your stuff and other people’s stuff gets intertwined energetically which makes it tricky to deal with.
You can also hold on to other people’s mental energy. This is very common in families who share patterns of thoughts and beliefs. You walk around with mental energy you picked up naturally as a child and simply never chose to get rid of. So many mental habits were ingrained when you were young and aren’t really yours at all. The problem is that, since they’ve been around so long, they can be hard to notice and harder to get rid of.
Mental patterns can exist over generations, too. One I inherited from my family is the idea that “the other shoe will drop.” This is an old expression that essentially means that good things only last so long. There’s always something worse around the corner. That’s kind of a hard mental belief to live with, isn’t it? It took me many years to recognize it as mental energy passed down from my family that I was free to let go of.
Spiritual energy is similar to mental energy in that it is often picked up when we are small and so ingrained in our cultures and families that we don’t even recognize it. We can also gather spiritual energy when we are older and join various groups (religious or otherwise). It can even exist at the level of culture and have nothing to do with spiritual or religious practices at all. For many cultures, our concepts of purpose and individual vs. collective good exist at the level of spiritual energy. What makes spiritual energy challenging to work with is identifying where it comes from and how it influences your beliefs. Letting go of spiritual energy that is not yours can be challenging even if you can see it for what it is. Since it is often tangled up with other layers of personal, emotional, and mental energy, it can take time and persistence to let it go.
Why does it matter?
You may be wondering why I bother to talk about this at all. If the point of energy work is to get rid of whatever is blocking you, isn’t it easy to just let go of this stuff that isn’t yours to begin with?
Well, yes and no. Yes, it can be easy to let go of, but (and here’s the trick) only if you know that it wasn’t yours in the first place. Being able to label something as “not my stuff” makes it so much easier to release.
Why does that matter? It's because your body on all levels is trying to make sense of that energy and process it out. When it can’t figure out what the energy is, it gets stuck in this loop where nothing can be done. Your body sticks it into long-term storage where it creates blocks that mess up your whole energy system. Over time, this creates physical problems. Recognizing that something isn’t your energy gives your body permission to stop processing and storing it and simply let it go. Energy work doesn’t always require that we understand what is happening, but in instances such as this, knowing what is going on gives you a lot more power to create change.
You can spend years in therapy trying to figure out why you are mad at your father, but the day you realize that most of your anger is actually your mother’s and not yours at all is the day when things really start to change. You realize you can release all that emotional energy because most of it wasn’t yours to begin with. Yes, there may still be some things you need to work on there, but the energy release will make all the other work you do so much easier.
In my post Inheriting Family Trauma, I talk about Mark Wolynn’s book It Didn’t Start with You. In it, he discusses how family trauma can create physical and emotional symptoms in descendants for years after the original traumatic event occurred. He doesn’t discuss energy, but that is essentially what he is talking about. He traces the energy of the family trauma through language. Remember earlier when I talked about the family mental energy of “the other shoe will drop?” I picked up on this through reading Mark Wolynn’s book. This old-fashioned phrase was a marker of mental energy passed down from earlier generations who had experienced dislocation and poverty. The trauma was deep enough to outweigh some more recent spiritual beliefs that take a more positive spin on the world. Once I could see the mental energy and name it as “not mine” I could energetically work with it to let it go. It made it much easier for me to do mental work around always expecting the worst to happen in my life.
Honestly, sometimes the line between spiritual and mental energy can be very fine. The most important thing to note is that recognizing it as something you may have inherited can be a huge step toward letting it go.
Not my stuff
When I work with clients, one of the first things we learn to do is to name when something is “not my stuff.” Being able to separate from it in this way usually makes it much easier to clear. Once we’ve identified it, using Reiki, Integrated Energy Therapy®, or Emotional Freedom Technique can help release the energy and start to change the patterns and beliefs associated with it.
There are times when labeling something as “not my stuff” doesn’t necessarily make it easier to release. Sometimes we hold on to someone else’s energy (usually emotional) out of support. We may think that releasing the energy means we are abandoning the other person or rejecting their emotions. None of this is true. You can empathize with and support others while also refusing to carry their energetic stuff around with you. You can be supportive while also not trying to “fix” things for them. In these situations, you need to understand what you are releasing before you can actually let it go.
Mental and spiritual energy can be challenging for similar reasons. Often this energy is related to beliefs we picked up as kids from family, religious groups, culture, etc. There are points in your life when you have to decide if you are going to hold on to those beliefs and their attached energy. Choosing to let them go does not mean you are rejecting your family’s religion or values. It doesn’t mean you deny what your ancestors experienced or survived. It definitely doesn’t mean that you reject everything you’ve ever been taught that is in some way related to that belief. It just means that you are willing to let that energy go so you have the power to choose to live another way. It means you are not willing to let other’s beliefs and experiences rule your life and you are open to creating new ones on your own.
Here’s a deep mental and spiritual belief that runs strong in the culture I grew up in: good people volunteer. It’s a civic value taught by American culture and it’s a spiritual value taught by the religious group I grew up in. There are a lot of excellent reasons to volunteer and much good is done in the world through volunteering. However, there’s the problem that I discovered with this belief. It’s also a gender value taught by a culture that believes women should work for free and our time and effort isn’t worthwhile enough to deserve pay or professional recognition.
Can you feel the energy around that belief? There’s a lot there to unpack, and since it’s so carefully intertwined with the other values and their energy it’s hard to see. However, once you can zero in on it, it feels very negative.
I have decided that the energy isn’t mine and I don’t want it anymore. I choose to let it go along with its related beliefs about why all good people volunteer. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I don’t see any good in volunteering or that I will never volunteer again. It does, however, mean that I’m going to think carefully about where my volunteer hours go. I’m also definitely not going to feel guilty about saying “no” to a request for volunteering again.
In this situation, being able to say “that’s not my stuff” made it easier to let go, but there was still a lot of thought that needed to go into figuring out what I did want to keep. Sometimes the energy work is the first step into deeper mental and emotional work.
So, what do I want you to do with this? First, start to recognize when emotional, mental, or spiritual energy in your life is not yours. Just that step makes it easier to let go of it. If you find stuff that isn’t yours, make a conscious choice to release it. If you do energy work yourself, or if you have an energy worker you meet with, use your practice to clear the energy from your body. Second, spend time consciously choosing what to do next. Do you need to follow up with a therapist to process the emotions? Do you need to work with a coach to create better mental thought patterns? Do you need to talk to a friend to talk through how you really feel about something? What can you do to free yourself from that energy that wasn’t yours and move ahead with your life?
If you are struggling with identifying what is not yours, feel free to reach out to me to talk about what is going on and how you want to work on the energy keeping you stuck. Often in the course of an energy session, I can find and release energy that isn’t yours without having to discuss it. I also do coaching sessions where we talk through what you are experiencing and I teach you how to feel the difference between what is your own energy and what isn’t. Learning how to identify what is not your stuff is a huge step toward freeing yourself from a past you may want to leave behind. If you want to talk, contact me on my webpage or email me at email@example.com and let me know what you want to figure out!
You can also read more about how your own physical stuff (in your house, in your life) is keeping you stuck! Check it out here!