We are emotional beings, governed in fact, by the same emotions for thousands of years. Despite advances in science and technology, our emotions pull us into primal states of being. We all know what fear, anger, hatred, jealousy and other negative emotions feel like. We also periodically taste emotions like love, compassion, kindness, and awe and want to return to those states. We, in fact, want to live there forever.
The memory of those positive emotions seems ingrained within us and pulls us on a quest to that state of harmony and happiness. But, how do we get there? How do we start on that journey? Most of the time we are struggling to hear what our emotions are telling us. In fact, we are either ignoring their message or drowning in emotional overload feeling like victims of our circumstances. But, you can change how you feel.
Here are 5 things everyone ought to know about emotions.
1. Emotions don’t disappear just because you ignore, avoid, or suppress them. Even if you do that, they manifest as anger, anxiety, depression, bitterness, and other feelings. We even express them non-verbally through our facial expressions and body language.
You might think you’re not expressing your irritation at your friend when in reality, they’re picking up on it because of your posture and what they’re hearing in your voice. Think about how your barely disguised irritation affects you, your friend, and your relationship.
2. If you do avoid or suppress your emotions, you probably try to do it one of several ways–through eating, shopping, spending a lot of time on the internet, and other ways you’ve devised of escaping or ignoring the pain. If you realize you’re spending more time or money on something you don’t really value, ask yourself, “Am I doing this to avoid my emotions?”
3. Distressing emotions are telling you something about yourself, your situation, and other people.
They are a call to healing yourself to arrive at harmony and happiness. They are a call to reclaiming the personal power that you have given away.
Have you ever looked at an old journal and thought, “Wow! Did I really say that? It was so insightful.” Choose a distressing emotion and write about what it feels like when you experience it and what it might be able to teach you. In the past, has that emotion drawn your attention to a situation that you needed to change?
4. Emotions are like layers. The outermost emotions like anger or bitterness might be covering deep sadness or hurt. We can only deal with the topmost layer. These emotions are there to protect our vulnerable inner self. But, over time, as we reclaim ourselves, we develop the strength to get in touch with these deeper feelings and start to heal.
Do you resist self-care? Practice self-care and self-compassion as you work through your emotions. Doing so keeps you calmer and gives you the ability and strength to go deeper. Schedule a massage, go for a walk, ride your bike or hike, paint, dance, listen to music, or journal. Any activity that connects you with yourself is deeply nourishing and gives you the strength to hear your emotions.
5. Emotions are in fact driven by our thoughts about people and things. More than that, it is our judgment about people and situations that drive our emotions and subsequently our actions. If we can change our thoughts, we can change our emotions. It’s easier said than done, but it can and has been done. What we really need to do is notice our judgment about the situation, the people involved, and ourselves. Then we can start to notice our emotions around it and how those are grounded in our experiences and conditioning. This awareness is the window into change. It might be difficult to sustain the shift in our judgments and beliefs, but over time with practice, it gets easier.
It can be easier to feel your emotions, not overspend, or waste time in the hope of distracting yourself if you take the edge off your emotional distress. When you’re not overwhelmed, you can better understand your emotions and their connection to your thought patterns. That’s what Bach and other flower remedies can do. By gently shifting your emotional state, allowing the emotion to move through you instead of controlling you, they create space for you to learn from your emotions instead of just being distressed by them. You start to become aware of new behavior patterns that you can choose.