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 



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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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?

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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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