Why is it that so many of us are uncomfortable feeling our emotions? We distract ourselves, focus our energy on other people’s business, or numb ourselves with food, substances, work or television to stay out of feeling what is going on inside of us. When we feel that we have no power to change the circumstance connected to our emotions, the ego will work hard to push those feelings back down, instead of allowing them to speak their truth to us. This creates huge amounts of stress on our body as we resist its natural impulse to give us it’s message by pushing the negative energy back into it. Blowing off a little steam time here and there by venting or dumping our pain out on others is like a pressure valve. It helps a little, but the water is still boiling inside. It is incredibly helpful to work on emptying the out pot of pain completely to stop being triggered by current circumstances that don’t warrant such a strong response.
The ego works hard to keep us out of the present moment and focuses instead on the past and the future to keep us out of the now where we would feel those feelings - where it can’t protect us. Many physical and mental health issues can manifest from this push-me-pull-you going on inside with our emotions moving up and our ego pushing them back down. Depression is often anger turned inward as self-blame or shame and past regrets. ‘If Only’ becomes the line of thinking when focused in the past where we feel helpless and apathetic to the fact there is nothing we can do since the past is over. At the other end of the spectrum, anxiety is a response to other deeper emotions wanting to move out of the body and the ego’s fear of what may happen if those feelings come up and out. “What If’ becomes the line of thinking when we focus on the future as we work hard to be prepared, know the answer, and stay ‘ahead’ of the curve.
As humans, negative emotions are usually telling us that we are not getting something we want, or we are getting something we don’t want. When we were young, we encountered many situations tied to not getting our needs met that were too painful for us to deal with. The emotions may have felt overwhelming and even life-threatening and the ego develops to protect us from that pain. One of the strategies that the ego comes up with is a story about how we are somehow the problem instead of the other person(s). The story the ego creates says we are not good enough or something is wrong with us the way we are and that’s why we our needs are not being met. This story provides a way to solve the problem of avoiding our pain by working on fixing ourselves. The ego thinks if we can improve ourselves enough, we will get what we really want (feeling loved, safe, validated) from others. Unfortunately, this pulls us away from our own internal experience and has us constantly monitoring other people’s experience of us instead. This urge to fix/change something that really isn’t broken within us keeps us out of our emotional experience and instead focuses our attention on resolving the situation or person’s view of us that triggered the feelings in the first place. This leaves us justifying ourselves or getting caught in the blame game of right and wrong thinking.
The story that the ego came up with isn’t true and it’s up to us to challenge and change it to one that is. We really are OK exactly as we are and can fully contribute our gifts when we are able to be our authentic selves and take responsibility for recognizing and meeting our own needs instead of looking to others to do it for us. When we are willing to be present, we can recognize how we feel, and as we allow the feelings move through us, the story behind the feelings becomes apparent. Then we can ask if the story is really true in the current situation (it usually isn’t) and start focusing on what is true, on what we really want, and the ways to create it for ourselves.
For many of us, being present enough to notice the story will bring the emotions to the surface. Instead of pushing them back down, we can start emptying out the old trapped unexpressed emotion so their energy can move on. Once we empty out the pot of old trapped emotional energy, our natural buoyant self simply bobs back up to the surface. We feel lighter, clearer and more relaxed. Less concerned and more relieved. And this lighter inner experience becomes our new normal. Then, when chaotic circumstances appear in our lives (physical pain, emotional pain, etc.) we don’t interpret them as AGAINST us anymore. We begin to recognize how everything is helping us to heal, learn and grow and then we can decide the most loving thing you can do to support ourselves in that situation. When we allow our emotions to give us their message, they let us know how to take better care of ourselves.
How will you see your emotions as FOR YOU today?
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