“The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.”
* * * * * * * *
No matter how much you want things to be different, there you are again, with emotions grabbing you. You’re consumed in anger, overpowered by jealousy, or lost in pain.
When these common experiences visit you, which they will, your job is not to be frustrated because they arrive. You can’t control what emotions appear. But you do have options about how you handle them.
That’s worth repeating: you can’t make emotions appear or disappear. But you can approach them intelligently when they do.
Emotions offer an opportunity to chip away at your conditioned habits, an opportunity to return to peace and freedom—even though the emotion is present. This is the beautiful possibility.
What Doesn’t Work
For many people, emotions are troublesome.
- You don’t like how you feel, but you don’t know what to do about it.
- They make you do and say things you regret.
- Your attempts to change them fail, so you feel resigned to feeling that way forever.
If these sound familiar to you, then your way of dealing with emotions isn’t working. These strategies keep you hooked. Can you see yourself in any of these?
If you move toward emotions, you indulge them. They are so important. You build elaborate stories around them that are all-encompassing and dramatic. You think and talk about them with great relish. You might say some version of, “I’m so upset! Can you believe he did that?”
Moving toward emotions keeps them very much alive in you with no chance for relief.
If you move against emotions, you fight them. You hate how you feel. Your attempts to control these feelings don’t work, but you are at a loss as to what to do about them. Before you know it, you’ve said hurtful words. Even your body may feel like its on fire.
People who move against often feel anger and frustration. You may even justify how you feel, which keeps the feeling firmly locked in place.
Moving away from emotions may be the most common reaction. You avoid them like the plague. Instead of experiencing what is present, you eat or drink to excess, stay too busy, and get stuck in endless thinking. Anything so that you don’t have to feel them.
An ignored emotion stays hidden, and a hidden emotion is an invitation for inadequacy, self-criticism, procrastination, relationship troubles, a limited self-view, and addictions.
What do these methods have in common?
- Emotions stay stuck.
- You are afraid of feeling it.
- You resist your actual direct experience happening in the moment.
The Way to Be: Not Moving
But there’s a fourth option, and it’s the one that will set you free. Rather than moving toward, against, or away, consider not moving at all.
An emotion appears, and you stop. You feel caught in its grip, and you stop. In the service of peace, harmony, and well-being, you stop moving your attention into the old habits that only bring suffering. You stop creating stories that make feelings stick.
You dedicate yourself to sanity, and you lovingly open your heart to what is present, as it is. The lump of sadness in your chest? Welcome it like a friend knocking on your door. The fire of anger? Let it burn if it wants to.
Don’t be mean to your own experience by pushing it away. Whether you like it or not, rise above your personal opinion, and honor it. Because it’s the truth of the moment—the only thing that’s real.
Your mind may swirl, trying to convince you why you need to avoid your feelings. But don’t believe it. Have courage for the truth, a longing for freedom.
Try it out and here’s what you will discover. When you totally, deeply, fully embrace things as they are, feelings lose their power to disturb you. They appear, and may even grab you, but you handle them intelligently.
Offer the sacred temple of acceptance to your emotions. It’s the only wise way to be.
What About You?
Do you move with your emotions? What happens when you don’t move? Please share in the comments. I’d love to hear…