Emotions are what we feel, not who we are.
Yet, we can allow them to drive who we are, the choices we make and how we view life. The meaning we make of what we feel is crucial to being about to navigate our emotions in a healthy way.
It is important to fully feel our emotions, but not get taken down by them. The stories we tell ourselves about what we are feeling can make all the difference in how we experience life. Such stories can be self-sabotaging.
When we buy into negativity around emotion, we can fall into a downward spiral of suffering.
We can become victims when we fall into such a trap. It’s critical not to believe everything the mind tells us. If we spend time trapped in the past or trying to forecast the future, we miss feeling and processing the sensations beneath the emotions we feel. When we hold onto the emotions we feel, it can seem as if we are ‘stuck’ in them; it doesn’t have to be this way.
The 5 P’s of Emotional Suffering:
Emotional suffering is perpetuated by our insistence that what we are feeling is persistent, progressive, pervasive, permanent and personal.
When we believe our situation is persistent – that it will last, we are forecasting our life. Yet we are not fortune tellers.
When we believe that things will only get worse, we have left the present moment and have been taken hostage by our negativity. Once again, we are projecting the future, which we are not equipped to do.
When we believe that the way we feel will be so for everything about our life, we have become tangled in a web of delusion. However, it can certainly seem like when we feel down about one thing, everything is affected by such darkness. Sometimes we have experienced something so traumatic that we lose track of our ability to see positive things ever happening again.
Here is an example of when we can become overwhelmed by the story we are telling ourselves. We may say “It will never be the same again” and feel despair. The way through this is to remember that all things change. While ‘it’ may never be the same, that does not mean all is lost. Again, we cannot tell our own future.
When we believe that we will always feel the way we feel in any given moment, we have forgotten that things change – even our emotional state. It may seem like we will ‘always’ feel pressure when we have experienced a long period of stress. Our emotions are energy-in-motion. They come and go. Yet, we can forget this when we get caught in a powerful negative emotion. Emotion is anything but a permanent state.
When we take things personally, we internalize negativity, whether it is a sense of failure, disappointment or even doom. It’s easy and even convenient to blame ourselves. Whatever happened, it is in the past. We cannot change the past, but we can hurt ourselves with the toxic negativity of self-blame. We can take responsibility for correcting a mistake going forward. We can learn from the past. However, beating ourselves up for what happened only keeps us trapped in suffering.
It is not unusual to feel as if we are stuck in an emotional state.
Yet, our story of being ‘stuck’ is just that – a story. We do not have to buy into the stories our minds make up for us. However, it is certainly healthy to feel the sensations arising in the body around an emotional state. When I feel the sensation I have when I feel “anxiety,” I realize I am feeling a lot of energy. What I am feeling may not mean I need to be afraid for my life, which is what we believe when we are anxious. It may only mean that I am about to do something new or different and that I need to be alert and pay attention. When we can experience our emotions from a place of neutrality and non-judgment, we stay healthy.
If we stay present and ride the waves of emotion as they come and go, we do not stay stuck in them.
When we process emotions as merely the energy that they are, we find our way from the feeling the dark, foreboding nature of our desperate story-making to the light of truth.