Constipation – it’s not sexy but we do need to let go!

By Jane Keep, London, UK. 

As a little girl I was regularly constipated. It was painful and uncomfortable. On and off through my life I continued to have bouts of constipation, although this is very rare nowadays.

When I was constipated, I could feel the strain and tension this put on my whole body, not just my bowels and their opening (or not)! I felt sluggish, lethargic, at times restless and my skin and hair were dull.

It’s odd when you consider it – if someone asked me to store my garbage bin in my bedroom I’d shriek with horror. Or if someone asked me to have a bath in water amongst the contents of my food recycle bin I’d cringe with disgust, yet, constipation is holding onto waste material that is no longer natural for the body to hold onto. If we would not have our garbage in our bedroom, then why would we want to hold onto waste in our body longer than is natural? We can shower, bathe and be clean on the outside, but if we are holding onto waste on the inside, our health will still be affected despite the outer appearances.

Constipation is a common condition, affecting people of all ages. Simply defined it means that we are not passing stools regularly, or that we are unable to completely empty our bowel. Other symptoms can include stomach aches, cramps, feeling bloated, nauseous, sick, and a loss of appetite.1

It is difficult to put statistics onto constipation, but “it’s estimated that around one in every seven adults and up to one in every three children in the UK has constipation at any one time. The condition affects twice as many women as men and is also more common in older adults and during pregnancy”.2 The figures are probably a lot higher as it is possible that constipation is just accepted as a ‘normal’ consequence of daily living nowadays and not mentioned to doctors or medical practitioners.

There are a number of lifestyle factors that can contribute to constipation including lack of exercise and dietary fibre, dehydration, inadequate rest and sleep and ignoring or overriding the body’s natural urge to pass stools. In addition, there can be medical conditions like anxiety, depression, Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions as well as side effects of medications that contribute to constipation.

As well as the way we live, the way we are in the world also has a role to play here – as constipation is also the consequence of holding on to our hurts and literally not letting go of things in our life that no longer serve us.

In modern times there are many ‘remedies’ for constipation, such as diets high in fibre, laxatives, suppositories, and enemas. There are people who have lived on laxatives all their lives because of constipation – yet they are still stuck in a cycle of constipation, as the underlying issues have not been addressed.

If we are willing to address these issues, listening to our body will support us, as will becoming aware of whether there are any patterns to our constipation; are there any times of day, the week, or the year when it becomes more prevalent? Does it come on after a difficult experience or really stressful time? Does it come on when we have been too busy to take care of our basic physiological needs?

But the question still remains… why do we choose to hold onto waste longer than is natural? Why are we not ‘letting go’? More so, perhaps there is a simple question to be asked at these times: What am I holding onto? What do I not want to let go of? It may well be that whilst there are physical factors to constipation, the way we are in life, our ability to ‘let go’ literally could be a key underlying factor in many, if not all, causes of constipation and one that is worthy of deeper consideration. Clues to this may also be whether we dwell on things from the past, undealt with resentments for example, or do we hold onto material possessions that are ‘past their sell by date’ and no longer serve us – do we hold onto clutter in our daily lives? Do we bury issues or hurts so deeply, and in that hold onto them more than we consciously realise?

Constipation is possibly one of the most unsexy topics of conversation to have(!) yet, it is much needed. If we spoke with one another honestly about these so called common ailments – and found a place of honesty about whether we are holding on, or not letting go, or burying our issues, or not allowing our life to flow in some way… we may just find that it is not medication, fibre, enemas etc that we need to free us up – but, a different way of being in the world, with a new relationship with ourselves of understanding, allowing, and letting go. I know the more honest I have become, and the more I take care of myself and my daily living choices, the more I can see if I am holding onto something, not letting go, or not in the natural, true flow of life – at which point I can deepen my understanding, make changes and new choices in my life to allow things to flow again.

Constipation may not be sexy – but we do need to let go!

Read more:

  1. What is gluten sensitivity? 
  2. The De-cluttering Diet 



768 thoughts on “Constipation – it’s not sexy but we do need to let go!

  1. When we have a clear out of possessions and/or emotions we are holding onto a natural flow of movement is reflected in our physical body.

    1. There is so much more released from our body when we are willing to let go of the emotional outplays and the contractions and tension that we often think are normal but are putting an extreme amount of pressure on our delicate and precious body.

  2. This might not be the sexiest conversation we would ever have, but as you say so wisely Jane, it is one that we all need to have at some stage, along with many others about the true cause of many of our accepted ailments. Those who suffer from constipation usually head straight for a ‘potion’ of some sort to get themselves going again but rarely stop and ask the question why; and the why as you have shown so clearly is the first question we ought to be asking ourselves.

  3. “Why do we choose to hold onto waste longer than is natural? Why are we not ‘letting go’?” – I like how you pause these questions, Jane, and you clearly imply that constipation is a choice, or rather a consequence of a choice. I’ve never considered it as such, but it so is.

  4. Do we bury hurts and energies to the point of forgetting them? Definitely. Because everything is energy so even the stuff in the basement/attic, cupboard that gets forgotten about. How we treat our environment gives away how we treat within.

  5. I have not found it easy to let go most of my life and now and then I would have constipation. It is only recently that I have been able to let go more and I found that in that it was important to feel that it does not need to be perfect before I can let go of situations that happened and let my life continuously flow in a lovely way.

  6. Constipation can be what seems an never ending cycle until we start to be honest with ourselves as to what we are not letting go of.

  7. I wonder how many of us reading this blog are affected by this at the moment, how many of us still experience constipation quite regularly and have we truly stopped to feel into it and see how it impacting us throughout the day. It is such a hidden topic, and perhaps the “shame” felt around it is because on a deeper level we know what it’s showing us, and that is why we are not open for discussions.

  8. When I was pregnant for the first time I was very constipated. But I was also embarrassed to ask for support so I suffered through. I held on to what I felt. Now – in my next pregnancy – I am supported in a very different way, speaking to a naturopath who I have been open with, and who has suggested supplements to support my body. So my body is so much stronger this time around, and I am feeling the huge difference in how and what I am eating. And as a result, I am not constipated. So even just holding back getting support can bring on constipation in the body.

    1. I agree – we often feel that the daily rituals we have are unimportant, perfunctory and sometimes even an inconvenience – yet there is so much more to them than that and they (e.g. letting go – rather than being constipated) are fundamental for our body to be the best it can be.

  9. In my nursing role I see a lot of constipation. Its often medication related, but what you say about ‘letting go’ Jane very much rings true. Something that I have observed is that there is a reluctance to acknowledge that life is changing. ‘Hanging on’ to the way life was, when it can’t be that way any more. Trying to ‘control life’ as much as possible. This of course adds to other physical symptoms too; pain (which can be anywhere in the body) fatigue and nausea and vomiting. There is also a fear of letting go for some. It reveals many layers of resistance and stubbornness.

  10. I get it maybe once or twice a year and in the last few years have been taking notice of how at the time it feels like other areas of my life are stuck or just cruising along without changing, or I am being super stubborn about something and not dropping my stance on the matter. But address one area it’s like taking a stick out of a dam, more break loose and everything flows again.

  11. Yes – gorgeous, constipation is not sexy, but we need to let go and move on! and sometimes it needs a deeper reflection of what is going on and a discussion with someone about it. So lets get it starting !

    1. And we really do not seem to value going to the toilet and letting go in the same way we value other things like eating certain foods, or putting conditioner on our hair, yet all are equally important for the body to flow.

  12. I remember a while ago talking about not letting food go to waste, for example if we are full and don’t want to finish what is on our plate and so often we eat it. Someone pointed out to me – so you would rather your body be the garbage bin, than the actual garbage bin? And I was like, oh yeah, I totally do that, and I thought about the other ways I do that. It was a sobering point. And I was reminded by you saying that we would not have garbage in our bedrooms, so why in our bodies?

  13. Holding on… True… constipation is a manifestation of this but you can see the holding on in people’s bodies, in their voices, in their lives, in their expression in general.

  14. Just love the common sense in these words. “We can shower, bathe and be clean on the outside, but if we are holding onto waste on the inside, our health will still be affected despite the outer appearances.” Looking back, it is so very clear that I rarely ever considered what was going on in the inside, especially as to what I was holding on to, and yes, my health suffered as did the quality of my life. These day, health for me begins on the inside and then naturally ripples to the outside.

  15. ‘If we would not have our garbage in our bedroom, then why would we want to hold onto waste in our body longer than is natural?’ True Jane and I appreciate it very much you have pointed it out in this way, it asks us to be honest and to have a look why we don’t let go of that which is no longer needed in our system.

  16. I find conversations like these real and so important to have between each other. Constipation, like holding on to hurts, can be so hidden because you can’t see any physical features on the outside that show this. Yes, you can sense it and it can be seen in how the person communicates, lives, works, or are in relationships but do we bring it up with each other? It’s amazing how ‘freeing’ it is to talk about it, and let go (no pun intended) of the beliefs that there are some things you just don’t share… that’s what gets in the way and blocks us in the first place.

  17. I get offered such a clear reflection when I get constipated or get a little crack at the end of my bowel which then is very painful when stool passes. There is always a pattern, a form of protection and control that is causing this and once I renounced my way of being with this it just goes.

  18. Experiencing constipation or other symptoms forces us to look deeper at the underlying issues we have not dealt with that our body is communicating to support us to deepen our awareness and relationship with ourselves and the way in which we live.

  19. As someone who often experiences this, it gives a lot to consider and deeply contemplate in regards to what am I holding onto and what am I not willing to accept. I get the feeling that it is associated with not handling certain aspects of the day and bracing in case something comes at me, so putting my body into a fight and flight mode instead of letting go and surrendering to a different quality of life.

  20. I can still be constipated now and then, always a sign for me that I don’t allow myself to be me in one or more areas of my life, the pressure I put on myself gives a tension in my body which is influencing my digestive system. Quite interesting is that since I have stopped eating nuts, having thin stool stopped completely and having constipation is more likely nowadays.

  21. Some important questions are presented here Jane, and while reading them, it occurred to me that the answers although at times may be elusive the outward display in our lives can be a clue to what we are not letting go of.

  22. I’ve been letting go quite a bit recently, of ways of living i.e beliefs about life, as in needing to be in control.. and what I’ve noticed as well as the physical benefits, there is definitely an easier flow with my digestive system, is how this has changed stuck areas in my life .. how it has opened up space for what I was trying to control to actually come to me and change how life has been for such long time. Truly amazing to experience.

  23. Interesting to consider that much of human life currently is geared around hanging on to things and keeping things rather than understanding perhaps a possible deeper meaning and purpose to life that we are here to learn to let things go and shed things that are preventing us from experiencing and enjoying the fullness of life and ourselves that could be.

    1. There are a lot of things we hang onto in life, including life itself, and a certain way of living, or material possessions, but if we were to ponder deeply we would feel there is a natural order and rhythm of things – where there is a flow, one where holding on has no place.

      1. Holding onto objects, holding onto ways of interacting with people, holding onto emotions, holding onto repeated behaviours/rituals. I am sure there is more but there is a lot of holding onto in life, makes me wonder how the body feels about all this even if there isn’t constipation…

    2. It does indeed Andrew, when we take a closer look there is a tendency to hold on to stuff that gets in the way of us living with clarity, simplicity, and flow. Life is constantly offering opportunities for us to let go and discard anything that does not belong. Our body is naturally very good at letting go, but if we get in the way and refuse to let go, our body will let us know.

  24. Thank you for making it so clear that no matter how common constipation might be, it is not natural to our body – and likewise, dwelling on and holding onto what no longer serves is harmful to our being. It’s so true though sometimes we get so used to where we are at and how, and what should have been let go of long ago has become a part of the furniture and we cannot recognise, let alone open a space for, what is being offered.

    1. I like the analogy you use here Fumiyo, how what we should have let go have become a part of the furniture and we don’t even recognise we should have say goodbye to it ages ago. Is that not what comfort is about, holding on to the old ways we know so well.

    1. and without wishing to get into too much detail – the way we use toilets now – e.g. public toilets in hotels, trains, stations, shops, etc etc shows a deep level of disregard – as they are not cared for, untidy, often disgusting – and whilst we may complain about them why is it that en masse we do not say enough is enough – no more disgusting/dirty/unkempt toilets? Is this in any way a reflection of our levels of disregard including toileting/toilets?

  25. I have found that I get constipated if I bottle things up, which is really associated with anxiousness and the more I allow myself to let go of that feeling the quicker the constipation resolves itself.

  26. It is interesting how this blog takes us away from the old thought patterns around constipation and leads us to the awareness of what it is that we “hold on to”; even more succinct is the offering that it offers us all, to allow ourselves to look at ourselves, our way of living and what in particular we hold on to. There is no perfect science here, just our willingness to delve deeply into our own patterns, knowing that each pattern exposed begins to dissipate and lose its power, and every pattern let go of clears our bowels.

  27. I have not had constipation for a long time but I can still feel in my life areas where I hold on, anxious to let go and trust in myself and the support that is always available. The more I stay present with myself and employ self care and self love, honouring myself, the easier it is to feel confident and not attach or be invested in outcomes and in this way I honour the process.

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