Having experienced not just health and sickness, but also success and failure, marriage and divorce, wealth and poverty, Annie now knows that real growth is not another ‘let’s make it all ok’ campaign. It’s about finding the truth at the core of ourselves so that we have the inner freedom to deal with whatever life throws at us.
Emotions are a response to the thoughts we have about various situations and circumstances. There are emotions that we like and want to continue having and there are others that we dislike and want to avoid at all costs. We need to understand more about the emotions that we dislike and want to avoid, as it is those emotions that will provide us with more choice, truth and happiness in our life. When you know how to deal with your emotions, life becomes easier, because you’re no longer ruled by a fear of feeling a certain way.
Why do we find emotions so difficult to handle?
If we try to avoid some emotions that we don’t like, they are bound to come back to us later, because all emotions simply want to be expressed. After all they are just energy in motion and emotions naturally bubble up inside us, get expressed and then leave. However, if we try to interrupt this process we can bring all sorts of problems upon ourselves.
When you don’t know how to deal with your emotions it’s often the avoidance strategies that cause you most problems – not the emotions themselves.
Here’s what I mean.
Every feeling that gets generated has five parts as follows:
- The thought about the situation
- The resulting emotion
- The way we perceive the emotion and the meaning we ascribe to it
- The way we feel about that meaning
- The way we respond to the emotion
Our response to an emotion often has a greater impact than the feeling itself.
No-one has ever died of an emotion!
Many people have died as a result of not managing their emotions but instead turning to substance abuse, addictions and dangerous behaviour.
If emotions are suppressed for long enough they can also cause havoc on a physical level by contributing to diseases and physical symptoms. As long as we do not want to experience a set of emotions and want to avoid them at any cost, the fact remains that someday, we will find ourselves facing those emotions at such an intensity that all our energy, willpower and control will be washed away trying to overcome them.
Here’s how to discover your emotional preferences
Try the following exercise:
Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle.
On one side of the line, list out the emotions that you like and want to continue to experience in life:
Now, on the other side, list out the emotions that you dislike and want to avoid.
Once you complete the above two lists, you will see that there are a few emotions that you like (for instance: happiness, love, joy, excitement, etc) and probably a lot more other emotions that you don’t like (for example: sadness, anger, fear, hurt, disappointment, hate, jealousy, inadequacy, shame, confusion, doubt, rejection etc).
It is very common for people to have fewer emotions that they like and a large number of emotions that they don’t like.
What this means is that when we think about how to deal with our emotions, we often focus on trying to manipulate life in order to avoid the ones we don’t like.
For example if you’re afraid of rejection, you may then avoid speaking in public, getting into relationships, being noticed at work, making mistakes, speaking your mind etc.
We can run our whole lives trying to avoid emotions we dislike.
Introducing… Emotional Allergies!
Sometimes, we become so allergic to particular feelings, due to intense experiences of them in the past, that we will do anything to avoid them.
Even if it means missing out on things we actually want.
But being aware of what emotions you like and what emotions make you cringe is important for ensuring emotional freedom.
After all, what do you think is more logical: running away from something that is bound to occur, or trying to find a way to accept something that may be uncomfortable but is going to happen anyway?
Once you know this then you can challenge yourself to remain open even to the ones you like least. After all, they are part of being human and are guaranteed to turn up at some point in your life.
How to deal with your emotions
Instead of trying to run away from them and avoid all the situations that you think could possibly cause them, why not ask the more intelligent question of “How can I accept them?” instead?
Eventually, with practice, you’ll find emotions are no longer your enemy. They become part of your life, and your emotional landscape gets more colorful and interesting.
Learning how to deal with your emotions is not about liking or disliking a particular emotion, it is about just being open to all kinds of emotions. In the end you don’t mind what you are feeling – it is all welcome.
As long as we are willing to experience all kinds of emotion for whatever duration, the more easily they can flow through us. You’ll find they actually disappear pretty quickly when you let go!
So choose to be willing, don’t make emotions mean anything (they don’t – they are just sensations) and just let them flow through you without resistance.
Developing emotional intelligence
We develop emotional intelligence when we are able to feel all our emotions and accept them for however long they hang around. A conscious effort to face all kinds of emotion without using any strategy to avoid them plus the willingness to experience all the sensations of every emotion, will ultimately lead to freedom.
If you are open to experiencing any and all feelings, then there is actually nothing in life you need to be afraid of anymore.
You are just open, present and accepting of whatever happens outside and whatever you feel inside.
Over to you
How about you? What emotions do you feel habitually, and which ones do you try and avoid at all costs? “Mapping” your emotional landscape like this can be a really fascinating exercise – we’d love to know what comes up for you. Leave us a comment and let us know!
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