Getting Emotional Waste Out of Our Systems
By Dr. Habib Sadeghi
My wife and I are in the process of looking for a house outside of LA—in what you would probably call the country. We’ve always been city dwellers, and so we’ve learned a lot in this process, namely that homes in the country are not on the municipal sewer system. Instead, they’re equipped with a private, underground septic system. I’ve become fascinated with how simple and ingenious these are, and the incredible analogy we can draw in our own lives. As a physician who works in mind-body medicine, I believe we all need our own private, internal system for processing our emotional waste because stress and negative emotions contribute so greatly to illness. Many of us feel that processing this ourselves is not our responsibility and abdicate it to external sources—whether that’s through blaming others for our problems, falling into addiction, or something else. As odd as it is, the septic tank—one of the greatest inventions of civil engineering—can show us how to do just that.
How Septic Systems Work
Simply put, all drainage pipes inside a rural home or business flow into a single pipe and empty into a 2,000 gallon septic tank with dual chambers encased in concrete underground about 30 to 50 feet away from the structure. Through a simple—yet biologically complex process—everything eventually ends up about 100 feet away in a leaching field. Here, the gravel-soil mix filters out any remaining impurities while the last remnants of water are taken up by the root systems of plants for eventual transpiration.
If I may be blunt, being an emotional and spiritual adult means taking care of your own shit. If we are ever to be psycho-spiritually independent and cultivate healthy soil for our own souls, we must stop processing our emotional waste through other people. We must stop filtering our blame, anger, resentment, jealousy and depression through our parents, ex-spouses, siblings, bosses, children and anyone else we choose to project our shortcomings onto. Of course, this requires taking 100% responsibility for our current life condition, a completely independent approach that leaves us with no other option than to set up an internal emotional waste management system.
“We must stop processing our emotional waste through other people.”
All food, even the healthy kind, leaves us with byproducts that need to be eliminated. Likewise, even good relationships in our lives leave residual negativity from time to time. Maybe you were irritated with a friend for being late or angry with a spouse for spending a lot of money on something you find frivolous. Without a proper way to process and purge these emotions, they build up over time, become toxic, and end up contaminating the relationships around us. They can eventually make us physically ill because we’re emotionally constipated.
Filtering Through the Ego
Just as rural folks don’t depend on a city to handle their waste treatment, we can no longer depend on an external source to take care of our spiritual dirty work either. Full responsibility means putting the emotional waste treatment plant on our own property and asking the hard questions. How did I contribute to this problem? What is it inside of me that is attracting this kind of person or situation? What signals am I giving off to allow myself to be treated this way? This approach lets all the misidentifications and misunderstandings fall to the bottom of our thought processes, all the dense and irrelevant he-said-she-said details, so we can process and neutralize the real toxic energies and/or beliefs from a higher vibration.
“Full responsibility means putting the emotional waste treatment plant on our own property and asking the hard questions.”
An important factor in the construction of a septic system is the rule that the size of the leaching field is directly proportionate to the volume of waste water, but inversely proportional to the porosity. Basically, this means that a big family will produce a large amount of water. Therefore, the leaching field needs to be equally large to handle the filtering of so many gallons. However, the gravel-soil mix of the leaching field needs to be dense and less porous, forcing the water to take longer to pass through more levels of filters before exiting the system.
“Anger can be very healthy and a filter of fire through which certain experiences can be cleansed.”
Emotionally speaking, the porosity of the leaching field is our super ego and requires just the right ratio of gravel to soil for emotional processing. If it’s too loose and porous, our emotions pass right through without much processing and remain toxic. A good example is when we rush into forgiveness because we feel anger isn’t “spiritual.” Anger can be very healthy and a filter of fire through which certain experiences can be cleansed. Things we forgive too quickly often don’t stay forgiven. As a result, toxic resentment will fester because we didn’t fully process the emotions that the experience created.
“Things we forgive too quickly often don’t stay forgiven.”
On the other hand, if our parents were emotionally dense, stoic, and unforgiving, then the gavel-soil mix of our emotional filtration system won’t have enough porous openings through which emotional waste can be neutralized. The lack of porousness causes it to build up, back up, and eventually pollute our own property, which is the body, making us sick with disease.
As the saying goes, shit happens. Most of the time, we interpret this phrase as referring to big problems, but small negative situations bombard us every day, too, and are in fact, more dangerous and toxic to us because they occur more often. These need to be neutralized on a daily basis as well, lest they build up and become another big problem that “just happens.”
While I’m not against any of these professions wholesale, sometimes the worlds of psychiatry, psychoanalysis, self-improvement, and even religion can sometimes create opportunities to wallow in toxic emotions instead of neutralizing them—or, there can be the expectation that a therapist, guru, or clergyman can “fix” us. That’s putting someone else in charge of our emotional waste treatment facility. As a physician, I can also say this attitude is akin to patients coming in and expecting their health problems to be solved with a magic pill rather than taking a proactive healing approach on their own in addition to what the doctor prescribes. The patients who heal the quickest and fastest are always the ones who take responsibility for their own health and don’t leave it in the doctor’s office. Emotional recovery works the same way.
Any real estate agent will tell you that a house with a faulty septic system is virtually unsellable. Left abandoned and at the mercy of the elements, it will simply break down into a pile of rubble. Without the ability to fully process and eliminate dangerous emotions, the same thing happens to us mentally and physically. The best guarantee we can provide ourselves for robust health and emotional well-being is an internal emotional waste management system for which we take 100% responsibility.
For more insights from Dr. Sadeghi, please visit Behive of Healing to sign up for his monthly newsletter, as well as an opportunity to purchase his annual health and wellbeing journal, MegaZEN. For daily messages of encouragement and humor, follow him on Twitter.