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—including 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 an underground, 2,000-gallon septic tank with dual chambers encased in concrete 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.
“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.”
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 onto whom we choose to project our shortcomings.
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.
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.
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 in fact, these are 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.”
“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.”
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 health and inspirational insights from Dr. Sadeghi, please visit Behiveofhealing.com to sign up for the monthly newsletter, check out his annual health and well-being journal, MegaZEN, or for messages of encouragement and humor, follow him on Instagram and Twitter @drhabibsadeghi
Dr. Habib Sadeghi is the co-founder of Be Hive of Healing, an integrative health center based in Los Angeles. He provides revolutionary healing protocols in integrative, osteopathic, anthroposophical, environmental, and family medicine, as well as clinical pharmacology. He served as an attending Physician and Clinical Facilitator at UCLA-SM Medical Center and is currently a Clinical Instructor of Family Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences. Dr. Sadeghi is a regular contributor to Goop, CNN, BBC News and TEDx. He is the author of Within: A Spiritual Awakening to Love & Weight Loss, as well as the foreword to Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good, and is the publisher of the health and well-being journal, MegaZEN.