Let’s face it, most of us were not adequately taught how to handle our emotions while growing up. Depending on your upbringing, emotions were overlooked, at best; forbidden, at worst; and everything in between. We were not taught how to use our emotions for the best interest of our emotional maturing and spiritual awakening.
We humans are naturally wired for wanting to hang out with good feelings all day long, and avoid feeling bad. Yet our emotions are here to stay for a while, and are actually incredible signs for how to embrace a better way of navigating life!
No one loves to feel sad, angry, frustrated, or afraid. But what if those emotions that we avoid are trying to help us wake up? What if, beyond the physical experience of the emotion, there is a message that is trying to come through? What if there is a slight shift we could make that would bring new understanding, perspective, or positive change?
When we try to avoid feeling an emotion that we judge as “negative”, we are only adding energy to it, and stuffing it back into our subconscious for it to resurface with a vengeance down the road. Fun stuff (not). Allowing an emotion to arise and BE, without getting lost in it, being the curious watcher of it, will allow the message to surface.
How do we let uncomfortable feelings just BE?
1. Notice when you are feeling something. This is not always as easy as it sounds! Our emotions usually have a physical counterpart: butterflies in your stomach, achy shoulders, increased heartbeat, et cetera. The more you pay attention to this body/emotion connection, the more you get to know how and when your emotions are expressing through you.
2. Listen to the emotion. Observe it with compassion, curiosity, and acceptance, like you are watching the wind blowing leaves on a tree. What is it showing you?
3. Determine whether you really need to do something about this feeling. Questions to ask to help you determine this are:
- Did my emotion dissipate on its own?
- Am I still feeling the emotion physically?
- Is there a new perspective I can take that will calm me?
- Do I need to do some deeper work on this? Forgiveness, grieving, self-acceptance?
Our emotional maturity and spiritual awakening rely on the effort we make toward learning more about what is going on inside our minds and hearts. The more we allow space for our emotions—the fun and not so fun ones!—the more efficiently we can move through them! Give it a try!