Meeting our emotions as they come
I’ve written before about emotions and the role they play in our lives. For many the prospect of meeting our emotions as they are can be a real challenge. Emotions are not linear or clear cut. They can appear seemingly without warning and can also hearken back to other periods in our lives. Their form is often can be blurred or strike with great clarity and for many, the instinct is to rationalise and make sense of them rather than experience them.
I see emotions as akin to weather. There are periods of great calm and there are marvellous bursts of fury which may clear us out for something new and fresh within ourselves. There are also periods in between those extremes. We may not always be prepared and not always welcoming of their appearance and yet it is inevitable. The topsy-turvy nature of emotions is a fundamental building block in what it is to be human and yet we often deny and suppress our feelings. It can feel safer to do so, as allowing them can be unpleasant to fully experience.
One of the most common ways of combating the experience difficult emotions is to remove ourselves from the feeling towards logic, in order to try to and figure our way out of it. Sometimes we can be very disparaging towards ourselves, giving out to ourselves for feeling this or that. Sometimes we are aggressive or passive aggressive, trying to discharge feeling. How often do we sit with the intensity and allow ourselves experience what is going on for us, without trying to change it and knowing that it will pass.
What good, one might ask, to allow painful and at times threatening emotion emerge and be acknowledged?* If we allow ourselves to feel and encounter that which we are experiencing, we are embracing the breadth and depth of our humanity. It is important to feel angry, to feel sad, to feel hurt, to feel jealousy and envy as they can help us understand ourselves better and when we do we are more able to make informed choices about what we need and want.
Opening the door to that which we do not wish to acknowledge is not easy yet they are there whether we would like them to be or not, and by trying to not allow them does not succeed in erasing them. In my next piece I will write about how we can make the experience of them as ultimately fulfilling and nurturing as possible.
*There are occasions when it actually isn’t possible, when one might be overwhelmed in response to acknowledging the emotion and it’s impact cannot be allowed by our own self care system. In order to release ourselves from it’s grip (it is experienced in ways outside of our conscious awareness), we must act with care and it is advisable to work with a therapist if there are feelings which one senses may overwhelm.