In the emerging field of alternative, holistic health, much of the focus is on the external. Those who want to incorporate good habits into their lives tend to start with nutrition and fitness.

While those areas certainly require attention, if we want to have lasting change, it’s our emotional health which needs to be explored. The challenge is that sometimes we become stuck emotionally — we seem to be treading water with our emotions instead of feeling them fully.

What can you do? Here are 8 ideas for how to become more emotionally unstuck in your life that I hope may help.

1. Sit down with yourself in a quiet place, without distractions.

Schedule the time on your calendar if you have to and keep it sacred. You want to start developing your inner voice. Then you have to listen to it, so that it will be directive and get you “unstuck” as you begin to identify what is going on inside yourself. You will find what is needed for healing and recovery. If you use these tools, you will learn to self-regulate and stay healthy on this journey of life.

2. Ask yourself what emotions possibly are under the surface.

You may not be conscious of them, but they should be uncovered after you have identified the primary emotions. For example, anger tends to mask the deeper emotions of fear or pain. Get as deep as possible. If you can’t come up with too many, observe yourself that week and then sit down again at the end of the week for another exploration session.

3. Once you have identified the emotion, ask yourself again if you have really identified the root or are still on the surface.

If you feel depressed, see if there is also frustration or sadness to go with it. Be diligent in uncovering as many emotions as possible, as aerating a large field. You want all the emotions to be churned out of the earth so that fresh air can get to them.

4. You should have many emotions named at this point.

They are just sitting there on top of that open field. If you have the feeling of nakedness or exposure at this stage, that is normal. You have just dug up your dirt! Good for you — now you are on your way to planting seeds of change.

5. Take one emotion at a time and ponder it alone.

See if you can identify what is causing you to feel this way. This is not a time to settle on a quick answer; the earth has opened up and you need to look at the root of the plants that have surfaced. Sit there with the pain that some of the emotions will conjure up. Understand that you will be OK even though you feel pain. You are doing this in order to get free. The process is anything but easy.

6. If you need a break, save the other emotions for another quiet session.

Only take on what you can handle at a time. Identifying root causes will usually bring up new emotions, so understand this is also normal and that you are actually getting closer to healing once this happens.At this point, do not share any of your journey with anyone who is “unsafe,” only someone who can be trusted not to judge you. What you don’t want is someone to put a guilt trip on you while you are processing your feelings. You need to be very protective of yourself and possibly choose to isolate during this time until there is some marked healing.

7.Whether it’s taken two sessions or two months, you are seeing the root causes now.

You have identified that possibly there are changes that need to be made in some life area so that you don’t experience pain, sadness, frustration or whatever else was uncovered. This is the time to be brave! You want to use affirmations and make bold decisions. If you are allowing yourself to be in an abusive relationship, which can be emotional or physical, this is the time to break out. It will seem selfish at first but it is the ultimate unselfish act toward yourself.

8. Start to see yourself as one who can overcome obstacles and make changes to nourish your well-being.

If there is resistance in the other person with whom you’ve set a boundary, just explain that you are doing something necessary to your health and you are no longer defined by expectation.

Live the victorious life! Do not make excuses for taking time out for yourself or not wanting to do what others desire of you in only meeting their needs. You will be able to meet others’ needs once you’ve taken ample time to nourish yourself. Feel freedom and healing from having broken out from under the patterns that were so destructive and become the most beautiful self which you can attain!