Here are some ways we struggle with our feelings:
- You don’t like how you feel, but you don’t know what to do about it.
- When you’re caught in emotions, you do and say things you regret.
- Your attempts to change them fail, so you feel resigned to feeling that way forever.
No wonder you feel frustrated. Let’s go a little deeper to understand how you get locked in the grip of feelings…and learn the kind way to be with them.
If you move toward emotions, you indulge them. You build dramatic stories around them and 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 the feelings don’t work, but you are at a loss as to what to do about them. Your body feels like it’s on fire, and before you know it, you’ve said hurtful words.
People who move against often feel anger and frustration. You may even justify how you feel, which keeps the feeling locked firmly in place.
Moving away from emotions may be the most common reaction. Instead of calmly opening to what’s present, you avoid them like the plague, eating or drinking to excess, staying overly busy, and getting stuck in endless thinking. Anything so you don’t have to feel them.
An ignored emotion stays hidden, and a hidden emotion is at the root of inadequacy, self-criticism, shame, relationship troubles, and addictions.
What do these strategies have in common?
- Emotions stay stuck.
- You’re afraid of feeling them.
- You resist experiencing what's actually here in the present moment.
The Way to Be: Not Moving
But there’s another option, and it’s the one that will set you free. Rather than trying to fix your emotions by moving toward, against, or away, consider not moving at all.
An emotion appears, and you stop. You feel caught in its grip, and you take a conscious breath. With the desire for freedom alive in your heart, you lovingly turn toward the feeling, and say, “Hello.”
The lump of sadness in your chest? Welcome it like a long lost friend knocking on your door. The fire of anger? Let it burn if it wants to.
Your mind may try to convince you to avoid your feelings. But don’t believe it. Go beyond the fear to meet what’s being offered to you as a holy gift.
Stop believing you’re damaged and instead bring the power of loving infinite awareness to these tender experiences that arise in you. It’s the way in to discovering the peace you long for.
Offer the sacred temple of loving presence to your emotions. It’s the wise and kind way to be.