Lots of spiritual teachers emphasize avoiding emotions they feel are negative -- fear, for example. They teach that we should stay in a high vibration and come from love rather than fear. I agree -- I want to come from love all the time! I don’twant to live in fear or any fear-based emotion.
But the thing is… I do feel fear sometimes. Don’t you? I do feel resentment sometimes, jealous every once in a while, exasperated fairly often. I have all the feelings.And I spent years judging myself for having these emotions, and I tried so hard not to have them.
Long story short: um... that didn’t work. If I deny my emotions, my body expresses them very thoroughly and creatively for me. My body knows how to really put on a show! And I’ve had like a thousand clients who could say the same… so I don’t think it’s just me.
Do you want to know what I do instead of pretending I don’t have fear, sadness, irritation, confusion and then judging myself for having them, then resenting myself for judging myself, then my body going into pain to let me know there was an emotion I was refusing to have…? (Good lord, now that I write all that out, I see how exhausting it is! Does it sound familiar?)
Here’s what you can do instead:
- Don’t label your emotions as negative or positive anymore. Emotions are just information. Just your bodymind responding to something. You don’t have to keep deciding every second if you like or dislike the information. You can just observe it. Find it interesting. It’s information about someone you’re really interested in, you. (To observe emotions instead of judging them, I highly recommend meditation -- even just 10 minutes a day is proven to make a difference in emotional balance.)
- Radically and unconditionally accept your emotions. They aren’t permanent, they won’t hurt you, they aren’t who you are. They’re just emotions, innocent little feelings!
This part confused me for a while. Because again, I want to stay at a high vibration. And aren’t so-called negative emotions like fear, sorrow, anxiety, jealousy, criticalness, etc., low vibrations? Yeah. But guess what? The faster you see and accept the “negative” emotion, the faster you can RELEASE it. And the more often you see, accept, and release “negative” emotions, the less likely they are to keep rising up and screaming that they exist.
- Release your emotions. Let ‘em move on through you.This is key. If you don’t know how to move through your heavy emotions, maybe that’s why you’re scared of having them (or admitting you have them) in the first place. I use EFT tapping, writing, talking, deep breathing, walking outside, and sometimes crying as tools to safely release emotions.
If you’ve been through so much that you’re truly afraid of feeling your emotions, and feel you won’t be able to safely move through them on your own, listen to that. Trauma is real. And people are available to guide and support you in seeing and releasing your emotions. I specialize in that if you want to arrange a few sessions. And regular therapy or a support group can be awesome too. Whatever it takes. Be brave. You can do this.
- Practice the positive. Let’s say you’re noticing your emotions, and they all feel heavy and just generally suck. And let’s say you meditated, and you tapped, and you walked, and you journaled. You expressed. And now you feel just exhausted and depleted. What next?
Well, lucky you: now that you’ve cleared your bodymind by noticing and processing your emotions, you’re open to have brand new DIFFERENT emotions. You’re an emotional blank slate so find something that gives you joy. And do it. It’s that simple. Just don’t try to short cut to this final step without doing the others first, or IMHO it won’t freaking work.
A great tool I use for switching into higher vibration emotions is Eden Energy Medicine, quick little movement exercises that create joy, relaxation and flow in our bodyminds. Another good tool is watching a funny video or show, having some fruit and dark chocolate, spending time with someone (human or furry) you love, listening to music you love, taking a walk or bike ride…
So now you know you don’t have to ignore half your emotions. You don’t have to pretend you don’t have them. You don’t have to judge yourself for having feelings. You can just bravely look at them. Looking at them takes you to “what, how, why, oh I see, almost done now and what if?”
And then comes joy…… but for real this time.