When we have uncomfortable emotions, we tend to do whatever we can to numb them or distract ourselves because we don’t want to feel, well, uncomfortable.
But when we do this, we suppress it and it bubbles under the surface and builds like a pressure cooker.
What we often forget is that our emotions are there to tell us something important and we can’t be fully free until we address what they’re trying to tell us.
I used to think I could counterbalance negative emotions with positive thoughts. That if I would just re-frame a negative emotion in a positive way or look for and focus on all the blessings and good things that I have in my life, then the bad feeling would go.
But as I said, emotions are there to tell you something, and they rarely leave until they feel heard and acknowledged. In all honesty, there’s not really any negative emotions, just emotions that we feel uncomfortable with and attach a story to that we label ‘negative‘.
It’s very common now for people to identify as an emotion. For example, I often hear “I’m depressed”, “I’m lonely” or “I’m so anxious right now”.
When you place the words “I am” in front on an emotion, you send a command to your subconscious mind that directs all your unconscious decision making (which counts for about 90-95% of all decision making) towards a certain destiny. This then triggers your Reticular Activating System (RAS- remember we spoke about this in You Don’t Have to Believe a Belief) to notice all the things in your environment and look for pieces of ‘evidence’ for reasons why you should feel more of that emotion which you followed with ‘I am’.
A much more empowering, and less self-sabotaging way to express your emotions is by replacing “I am..” with “I’m feeling…”
By saying “I’m feeling lonely” or “I’m feeling depressed” you are no longer identifying as the emotion but you’re identifying with it.
This is not a question about suppressing your emotions or identifying as an emotion, but recognising that it’s something you are experiencing in this moment. Even if it’s a long moment, no human has any one permanent emotion so it’s impossible to be depression but you can feel depressed. It’s normal and healthy for people to experience a range of emotions even though some last longer than others and by changing your language, you change your mindset which then changes your perspective and ultimately changes your thoughts and behaviors.
So, how do we sit with our emotions and allow them to come through?
Well, that all depends on you and what you are feeling… Sorry.
Some great ways to dig a little deeper into your emotions are. firstly, allow the emotion. Don’t try to stop or silence it. Allow the emotion to have it’s moment. Allow the sadness, anxiety, fear or whatever it is you’re feeling.
I always remember my Nan telling “It’s ok to cry. Sometimes you just need a good cry.”
Next, ask yourself “What is this emotion trying to tell me?”
You might get the answer straight away, you might have to ask yourself a few times or you might not understand the reason just yet, but by asking yourself, you’re telling your subconscious mind that you are looking for the answer.
Something I learned to discover hidden emotions was free-writing. This basically means I put a pen to paper and I just start writing. Most of the time, I don’t even know what I’m about to write, but it usually starts with something along the lines of “I’m not feeling good at the moment. I feel…” and then I just continue writing without judgement or too much thought about what is about to come out.
Sometimes, I get stuck when writing, and if you do too, try some of these prompts
– When is the earliest time I remember feeling like this?
– What could this emotion be telling me/trying to protect me from? How can I use this information to move forward?
– How do I want to feel? How can I get there?
– What do I need to let go of to feel good?
– What do I need to do to get closer to releasing this emotion?
– Is there anything I need to address before I’m ready to release this emotion?
It has also been found helpful and liberating, by many people, to then, safely, burn the paper to really enforce that letting go declaration.
There’s no easy way to say this, especially if you have resistance to it, but in order to receive an answer, you need to get quiet and listen.
Meditation is the fastest, most direct, healthiest way to receive balance and peace in your life. It’s not all bare feet and chanting “Om” in the lotus position. But quieten the outside noise, go within and you can absolutely receive intuitive downloads from your subconscious, the universe, god, or whatever you believe in.
You can set an intention before you start (something like, ‘I wish to feel lighter’ or ‘I wish to release this emotion’) or you can repeat a mantra during your practice (For example, ‘peace’, ‘healing’ or ‘love’) to help you draw in that energy.
Tip: It’s handy to have a pen and paper nearby when you finish your meditation practice as you may often receive information or insights about what the emotion is trying to tell you or what you need to do next.
By this point, you still might not have an answer, and that’s ok. Now is the time to consciously let it go.
Have you ever heard the phrase:
It’s ok to visit sadness, but don’t move in.
Allow your emotions to sit with you, but don’t make them too comfortable
You’ve now allowed emotions your some time in the spot light but now it’s time to let your subconscious do some inner work. In the meantime, it’s time to allow your mind some rest. Emotions can be draining and you’ve dug really deep which can be exhausting. Now we’re going to make a shift to invite the old emotion to leave and allow a different (hopefully more positive) emotion to take it’s place.
Go for a run, do some yoga, watch a funny film, put on some upbeat music and clean your home, plan a fun activity (either by yourself or with friends), take a nap or anything else that allows you to take a mental break, but also benefits you in some way. This is not a chance for you to numb or ‘forget’ your troubles with alcohol, drugs or other sabotaging means. We’re just allowing a shift by doing something that will positively impact us in some way.
You’ve done some really uncomfortable reflection. So I want you to really acknowledge yourself.
This step is really just about being kind to yourself.
You may now feel lighter and free from your negative emotion. You may not. Sometimes you may need to repeat these steps numerous times before you feel the full benefit.
Again, be kind and allow yourself the time to heal. There is no time-limit or even time-frame on any given emotion.
Also, it’s useful to remember that we are very likely to revisit the emotions that we’ve already released. This is normal. Depending on what you are experiencing in your life will determine what emotions arise for you and as I said before, it’s healthy for people to have a wide range of emotions.
Anxiety, depression, fear, anger, conflict, disappointment, loneliness, blame, regret, resentment or any other emotion that is causing you discomfort, is normal emotion. Let me repeat that. It’s normal. Ok, it might not be helpful but it is normal because it’s trying to tell you that there is something deeper that needs addressing.
The good news is, now you have the tools and a system you can use to help you address your emotions in a healthy and helpful way.
What uncomfortable emotions are you experiencing that may need addressing? What is holding you back or making you behave in a way that’s preventing happiness or peace in your life?
Take 2 minutes now to quietly ask yourself “What am I not dealing with?”