Monday, March 22, 2010

How To Deal With Negative Emotions in a Healthy Way When They Rise Up

I’ve been really enjoying working through Shiva Wheeler's “When Your Voice is Authentic, You Don’t Have to Yell.” Every chapter and exercise is so incredibly short and simple, and yet every chapter has been very cathartic for me. Not sure if it’s a personal thing for me at this point in my journey or if the book is just on another level of awesomeness.

Yesterday’s lesson was on something that I find most people have a challenging time figuring out- how to deal with your emotions in a healthy way.

We all know you shouldn’t suppress emotions. If you do, they then get stuck in your energy body and chakras causing blocks and issues, eventually leading to physical disease. On top of that, when they get stuck in your system, they are then attracting more of the same stuff to you. So if you suppress anger, it gets stuck in your liver and then your energy field is holding anger and therefore attracting more anger to you. Same with distrust, heartache, fear, etc. Not good.

But at the same time many of us on a spiritual path, or even just a well-being path, try to avoid negative emotions like the plague. C’mon be honest, many are scared of negative emotions (hey "the only thing to fear is fear itself" didnt become a popular quote for no reason! People relate to it). We know negative energy attracts more of itself and before you know it you end up wallowing in negativity and things start going wrong and you feel worse and then more things go wrong and so on. When you’re feeling negative emotions you’re vibrating low and blocking your positive desires from manifesting, etc. Oh and since you know you’re “supposed” to feel peace, love, and trust, feeling anger or fear can make you feel like you’re messing up. We know feelings like anger, shame, and fear don’t help us any and we don’t want them! Anger steals your energy and can actually kill you, shame blocks your communication, fear restricts your freedom, and so on and so on. However, since everyone is a work in progress, negative emotions are normal. Just like your physical body has pain as an alert mechanism, your emotional body has negative emotions as its alert mechanism.

So people end up feeling confused in regards to how to deal with negative emotions when they rise. We want to avoid feeling them, but we’re not supposed to suppress them. And in the process of trying to avoid negative emotions many people end up suppressing them because they don’t know what else to do.

I loved Wheeler's guidance on the topic:
In modern psychology it is considered a healthy mark of progress to be in touch with your emotions. For both men and women the courage to feel emotions is but the beginning of the journey towards freedom. Feeling and acknowledging emotions while not solidifying them into one’s identity constitutes how to be an adult in handling their impact.

That’s a total gem right there. PERFECT guidance on the topic. So I’ll write it again on its own.

The key: Feeling and acknowledging emotions while not solidifying them into one’s identity constitutes how to be an adult in handling their impact.

Great, so how do you do that?


He has you observe your emotions in the 3rd person. And it’s actually pretty fun. Feels like giving a play-by-play of your life as its happening or being a narrator.

For the next 3 days, every time you start to feel an emotion or are feeling an emotion, DONT think or say “I'm angry” “I'm scared” “I’m feeling sad,” etc. Instead switch your words and thoughts to "This emotion is anger,” “This emotion is fear,” etc.

And then you just observe it go through you (its really just energy passing through you). Observe how it feels in your body and how it affects your body. Watch its’ effects on you like you’re watching a show. Stay detached.

Really energy should move right through u as long as you don’t identify with it & claim it as your own. It’s just energy passing through you, but when you identify with it by claiming you’re it (i.e. “I’m ___” ), then you’re making it part of you. And Wheeler says at that point you become invested in the emotion and then it doesn’t just pass through you easily. So just let it flow right through you watching it, knowing that it is NOT you. You’re not your emotions. Those are temporary things.

This strategy keeps you from suppressing because you actually identify and acknowledge the emotion rather than pretending it’s not there, but it doesn’t become you. From this detached perspective you’re better able to figure out what the emotion is alerting you to and how you should handle the situation/issue or what changes you need to make (as Rev. Michael says, “If vision doesn’t pull you, pain will push you.”).

My Personal Notes:

Funny that when I was a child, this was actually my strategy for physical pain. I figured out at an early age that if I observed physical pain and tried to figure out what the pain really felt like, its effect on me, and tried to describe it, the pain would decrease a lot. Detachment.

I started doing this exercise last night and am finding it useful and funny. As an example, of its application/effect- right when I started the exercise, I went into the restroom and a huge mosquito flew at me out of nowhere (the big flying spider looking ones). I immediately on reflex felt panic, screamed, jumped, and then stopped and said, “This emotion is fear.” (Identified it as a separate entity). Then noted how my shoulders had gone up, neck tightened, throat made a surprised sound, and a sensation was still traveling through my left lung. All the while the mosquito was still coming at me and I just stared at it and suddenly started laughing. I chose not to kill it or react. I just laughed at the fact that a tiny insect had made that wave of fear travel through my body and in a detached manner asked, “Why the fear?” And thought, “Because I don’t want it to touch me. But how many times has a mosquito touched you before? How many times has a mosquito bitten you in your sleep? Hundreds! And it was nothing. The world didn’t end. You didn’t even feel it. Yes, you think its gross for an insect to touch you, but its happened so many times- does it really warrant that fear? Looks like I've been holding an irrational fear of mosquitos I need to go ahead and release.” And I was just straight laughing at myself while sitting there with Mr. Mosquito. Please note that under normal circumstances I would’ve immediately left the bathroom and used a different one. And if I had been feeling particularly brave, I would’ve killed it (I think its gross to kill insects and try to avoid it). But last night I just chilled with it.

P.S. This exercise wasnt the cathartic part of this lesson for me, though I found it very practical and useful. There was another exercise where you wrote down your relationship to certain emotions and THAT was insight after insight for me- like 6 pages of it with major healing/shifts. Maybe I'll blog about it later.