I have to admit when I first thought of the title for this article I didn’t know if people would get my symbolism. Then I read an article that compared the spiritual meaning of constipation with other dysfunctions of the body. As I thought about the relationship between physical constipation and the need to control or be in control (one of the spiritual attributes of the condition), I also thought about the real causes of constipation both physically and spiritually, and what will alleviate it. The real question is- what binds us in the first place? I have seen emotionally induced constipation affect people the same as nutritionally induced constipation where no amount of water or fiber made much difference. During my nutrition training a common theme that seemed to show up in every lecture was this idea that our bodies are not just bags of parts that occasionally break and must be fixed or replaced, rather a complex unit of sophisticated, interdependent systems that work in tandem. It’s not enough to know what’s broken; we need to understand how it’s designed to work in the first place.
Earlier this year I had what can be described as a pinched nerve in my neck and it became real clear to me that everything begets something else, and that each part of our bodies is connected to every other part. I experienced numbness in my right and pain in my shoulder that came from my neck which all started when I allowed someone to irritate me during a meeting. The pain was a visceral response to stress that leads me to this conclusion- we don’t hurt in isolation. That pain lasted for weeks and I took medication and underwent physical therapy and dry needling to get relief. Although those things were helpful, my pain didn’t go away until I went to the mountains for a Happiness Retreat. There I learned how to let go of the stress that caused my pain and that got me thinking more about what it means to be constipated. We don’t just wake up one day that way. The state of constipation happens (gradually) over time and living mindfully present helps us stay aware of what is happening to us. With physical constipation there is immobilization and restriction that keeps us unable to let go. Spiritual constipation is the same. It creates a lethargy that makes us ineffective. When we are physically constipated, elimination is difficult. Spiritually, when we are constipated, we are unable to move to our next level of learning. It’s important to understand that what makes us constipated and what keeps us constipated may be different things AND we must know the difference. A difficult relationship might have set the "constipative" wheels in motion but the fear of leaving is what is keeping you down in the dumps literally!
Let me be clear, constipation is bondage. No matter the source, no matter the context, the result is the same. With this in mind, my constipation has revealed some truths to me that I think might help you begin to remove the blockages in your life and live free.
1. Don’t make a pit stop your home.
Everywhere you end up is not your final destination. Sometimes the pit stop is a resting place to gather your thoughts, regroup, strategize, or just be still for a moment. Inherent in the words “pit stop” is the notion that it is not and should not be your forever home. Nor should it be an actual pit where you feel stuck and become immobilized. Always know when it’s time to leave the pit stop but more importantly, know when you should just keep walking past the pit. That brings me to complacency. I see it all around me. Complacency is contagious and hanging around complacent people will affect your ability to move out of the pit. Fear holds them back but complacency keeps them stuck.
2. Obligations and responsibilities are not the same.
When someone else gives it to you, it is not your responsibility and you should not feel obligated to assume it. An obligation will keep you indebted to the person who gave it to you. If however, you willingly take it on then that thing becomes your responsibility and no matter how difficult the challenge, your responsibility will never feel like a burden. If it does, then maybe it’s not a responsibility but an obligation in a pretty package. I know a lot of us get caught up in obligatory duties that were never of our own asking. We become resentful and that creates blockage (i.e. - constipation) in our lives.
3. Everything given to you doesn’t have to stay with you.
This one piggybacks off the previous concept. If whatever you receive is useful, keep it but know that every useful thing may not always remain useful. Remember one man’s trash is another man’s treasure so it is important for you to recognize when you have outgrown a person, place, or thing. There is nothing wrong with creating a recycling program for your life. Just don’t recycle things back into your life that have outlived their purpose. It has been my experience that once something is no longer useful to me, it rarely, if ever, becomes useful again (at least to me). Therefore, let it go and move on. By doing so you may be releasing someone else’s treasure and creating breathing room for yourself.
4. If others “take it personally” then it’s (their) personal problem.
Constantly filtering yourself for fear of hurting someone’s feelings will keep you wound up and bound up with your gut in a knot! It is not fair to the other person to keep them comfortable to the point they never have to be accountable for their own feelings. That is not to imply we shouldn’t be considerate of others’ feelings and sensitivities, but being led by how someone might react to our position robs them of the opportunity to learn how to deal with discomfort. There are too many adults stuck in “baby mode”, far too comfortable throwing temper tantrums when they either don’t get their own way OR when you don’t seem to be supportive of their life choices. I consider this a form of emotional manipulation and I choose not to be emotionally held hostage by the infantile musings of an insecure adult.
Despite what you have read so far, constipation can also have a benefit. When you are stuck, you are forced to be still or at the very least move a little slower. In this period of stagnation you can see things for what they really are. You will more clearly see your next steps. If you believe God is not punishing you, He is preparing you; you will begin to see your state of constipation as a necessary hardship that can lead you to great prospects. You won’t be here forever but since you are here, learn to poop and get off the pot.
© 2018 by Tasha D. Manigo-Bizzell