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 



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

  1. Yes, I find myself really considering how much we hold on to that we actually take as normal, the ways of living, thinking and behaving that have been habits for so long we don’t even consider them to be unsupportive. As I read your blog I felt something unravel and I can see today will be a fresh opportunity to clear out some old patterns of behaviour that no longer serve. I suspect I will need to be near a bathroom!

  2. It is interesting how constipation is considered a ‘normal’ part of life, with only some consideration in relation to its connection with our lifestyle choices and very few relate it to holding onto hurts. It is highlighting how crucial it is to let go of anything in our life that no longer serves or supports us and to deepen our awareness and relationship with our body that communicates so well when we are holding onto a issue to let it go.

  3. The body is great at communicating the fact that how we think, move, act and the emotions we try to control or carry with us all has an effect on us physically. If these things affect us physically, then they must be affecting other people too. Thus, the body is a master at making life about energy in form and showing us that we are a product of our choices.

  4. It is strange how we avoid conversations like constipation, menopause, death and all the other common things we all experience at one time or another. Of course not all men experience menopause directly but they still get their version or via friends. Why do we not share our experiences and look at these things that so directly affect us but are quite happy to talk about sport, the moon and the latest fad or TV show?

  5. Yes we do need to talk about it and yes I agree we need to get so much better at letting go of our stuff. It is still emerging in the science world what our bodies have been sharing with us of eons. That if we ruminate and lament on things, over analyse, hold grudges against people and not let them go, they clog up our own bodies with poison. This is not a good look for us, because it just constipates us, so let’s go for it and let go.

    1. Well said Raegan. How different our appointments with doctors would be if we lived with this knowing of our body. How different our conversations would be if we brought that degree of honesty – e.g. Ive been holding onto this hurt for years and I can feel it is impacting on the way my body flows (or doesnt).

  6. It is amazing how each part of the body can tell us about the whole of our life. Unfortunately this has not been made common practice or conversation. It’s not a sexy topic, but one that can help raise the bar on the quality of life we have thus far accepted to be much less. Living with constipation is not normal, otherwise why would it be classed as a condition and not a natural state?

  7. Great to read this today Jane, thank you for sharing your experience here. I’m struck by how we talk about our ailments and how if we were to go underneath and get really honest we could offer ourselves and those around us a different perspective, so as you say with constipation, what is it we’re holding onto that we do not let go – that is such a healthy conversation to have and yes we get any medical help we need but the real medicine is how we live and if we stop and look at that we put ourselves in a place of power and take our part and ensure that over the long term we address the underlying issues which led to the physical symptoms in the first place.

  8. In order to accept and surrender to the natural flow of life and therefore in my body, I have to let go of the idea life is about struggling my way through and working on my issues etc., instead of living from the knowing everything is taking care of when I live in the fullness of who I am.

  9. Thanks for writing on a topic that is often spoken of in private or ignored even though it is a natural part of our human form and physicality. There is so much more to observe here than the medical word ‘constipation’. The feelings that are noted in the body make sense as the way we have been living – holding on to, not letting go of, or whatever may be the feeling one gets the body, remains unbiased and continues to show us the signs of our ills.

  10. Thank you Jane, for defining constipation not only as not being able to pass stools but also the poignant fact of ‘or not emptying the bowels completely’. I have regular bowel motions, however recently have felt ‘constipated’ and can feel that yes, my bowels are not emptying completely and that there are definitely aspects of life that I am holding onto, am attached to and seek comfort in and struggle to let go because to do so would be to release the control and predicated outcomes for the future and open myself up to greater uncertainty (in the temporal life). It feels time to let go of needing life to be any certain way, to expressing openly and honestly and honouring everything I feel, deeply so.

    1. Great point Susan – we can feel that we aren’t constipated just because we do have bowel motions, but there are still indicators that may say there is more to let go of, or more flow needed, or a review of our food (e.g. as I find some foods don’t flow well in my body, they ‘stuff me up’). We can actually have diarrhoea and not realise that it is because we are constipated or the bowel is so congested that we then have very loose stools because of that – not because we have true flow!

  11. When you read more than one article of constipation in a day… Well you start to feel that someone is trying to tell you something… And let’s face it there is always something more to let go of, always a little bit of control that we haven’t noticed that is affecting out life.

  12. Does it matter if it isn’t sexy! I would say it’s really valuable to talk about what we are holding onto in our lives. So maybe expression is key in this to nominate and express to either ourselves or others what we are holding onto and why because as you share as soon as we do this we can let all the garbage go.

  13. It’s amazing how precisely our bodies communicate with us, each organ and part literally telling us exactly what is happening, and what is needed. From the many processes of the body we can learn much about ourselves, and if we choose to ignore the first signs, the communications will increase, e.g. constipation and further dis-eases of the bowel and body, until we listen to and act upon the information being given to us from our bodily discomforts and dis-eases.

  14. I agree that this is such an important topic to discuss between us all. Holding on that which no longer serves us is something that we all can relate to, and very likely all still do from time to time, my hand is up here. But as you have shared this is a toxic relationship to entertain, as in holding on we are holding back the greater depth of ourselves that we can be living, in connection to the flow of life we are part of. We have been bestowed with a gift in our bodies, and the more we openly, honestly, share and discuss the conditions and reflection we feel in our bodies the greater understanding we have our ourselves whether the choices we are making are supporting us to move and be with the flow of life.

  15. We hold on to patterns and behaviours as they provide a form of safety and security when issues come up in life, but this approach goes against the natural pull of evolution that is constantly asking us to digest life and let go that which is no longer needed in order to create space to be more of who we are.

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