Fear, Kidneys and Self Compassion

Posted by Joanna Rubini on

Have you ever gotten that mid back side ache? On either side of your spine? If you look at images of our human anatomy, you see that our kidneys are there, midway down the back, like a side ache.  Kidney's help us digest animal protein, they also help us digest or 'acknowledge' our fear, per Traditional Chinese Medicine. Fear is pretty normal for most creatures- I wonder if sharks are fearless? Or orcas? So if fear is normal to experience, and thus not 'wrong' why would our bodies signal it's presence to us? Just like every other  unconscious emotion or feeling we have that triggers a physical sensation in our bodies: the goal is awareness of self. To heal our kidneys, or more appropriately expressed 'to release our kidneys', we very basically need to become self aware of our fears.

The tricky thing about awareness of hidden fear is that we are mostly ignorant of it consciously (duh!) so we are often defensive or surprised when the possibility of being afraid of anything is suggested.  Being afraid is nothing to be ashamed of, but certainly acknowledging it aloud, even just to ourselves, can make us feel vulnerable to attack. So it stays buried deep in our subconscious, running the show from behind the scenes, without our awake awareness. I know we often label ourselves...that our (quirky) behavior is because we just are that way, that's why we are triggered or run or react...because we were born this way.

What if we are not our triggered behavior? Truthfully, we are not our triggered behavior! But, because we've spent our lifetimes avoiding looking at certain aspects of ourselves, the little scared kid inside us continues to seek an audience, desperate for comforting, security, nurturing, etc. 

So to heal, be that audience. Be the best ever best friend, parent, guardian, teacher, to your inner child, trite as this sounds.  I didn't develop this skill until into my 40s. So my scared inner little Joanna has literally been terrified and crying and running away from things and events and people for years because she didn't have the skills to cope and she felt completely alone and unsafe in certain situations.

If you find your kidneys- midback next to your spine- aching, do some digging. Did you recently deal with an event/person that was stressful? Did you feel triggered? The triggering is ultimately caused by a present day experience that brings up the (fear) emotion we were unable to fully process as developing little humans. The fear, then, has been lingering within us ever since, awaiting the opportunity to be felt and acknowledged and finally released through self awareness (self love, compassion, self support). If we just react, without any exploration of our thoughts behind our behavior, we are doomed to repeat the pattern indefinitely, because our inner child still has not been heard, s/he's just dealing the only way s/he knows. But if we react and then mentally and emotional explore our thoughts, or better yet, pause before we react, and do mental and emotional exploration, then healing and release can occur.

I am such an amazing parent to myself these days. When I am triggered with fear, and I want to run away (because that has historically been my m.o.), I might still depart the situation, but when I'm finally in a safe place, I face the kid inside who's running. I pick her up, rub her back in my mind, and let her cry on my shoulder. And she sobs out all her thoughts and feelings: first that she feels shame and embarrassment for having fled or reacted, and then under that, her reasons for running, what she is afraid of. In situations where we are triggered and react (whether physically or just mentally and emotionally), finding and releasing our fear is easy to see and work out if we take the time.

What if, however, we just wake up with kidney pain that seemingly came from out of the blue? How do we explore the cause? Well, very often we were recently triggered, but as adults in polite society, we are taught not to react outwardly, at least in an obvious way. So having squelched our fear reaction to the trigger, we squash it down inside, and once we are away from the situation, we might not pay it much attention at all, in a self-preservation effort to feel better. So the feeling of fear is still inside, building up until felt as pain and tightness in the kidneys, awaiting release. If I wake up and am tight in the midback, first thing I do is move my body. There are a myriad of movements to be done that soften us and begin to get our energy flowing freely again, which often serve to bring to mind either the present day cause of our fear, or even, in miraculous circumstances, bring to mind the underlying inner-child fears.

Sometimes, our kidney pain in and of itself is a trigger. If I experience unconscious-source fear and get kidney tightness, then I also am often afraid of the pain itself. My inner thoughts are filled with modern day medicine doom and gloom: renal failure? decrepitude? frozen spine? arthritis? I have to look at these fears head on, and soothe myself gently and positively, before moving on as to what current events in my life I might be afraid of. And then after acknowledging all my present day fear and responding to it gently, logically, supportively, I reach through to my sweet scared inner baby self to at long last see, hear, feel and finally allay her fears.

We are all beautiful, unique and worth giving our own time and attention to. For ourselves, and for each other.

With love...


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