August 23, 2021•576 words
Managing your emotions is not about feeling good or avoiding feeling bad.
It's about just feeling, COMPLETELY.
Most of the time, we're walking around in a daze, numb and unconscious to what we're feeling. Most of the time, we're caught in between a vague notion of unease and a middling sense of contentment.
As for children, they're either: running around in ecstatic play or crying over some tragic setback. And these events can be seconds apart.
As we get older, we become more tempered, less prone to mood swings (one would hope). But the drawback of that is that we tend to become numb to our feelings. We even actively suppress our emotions, consciously or unconsciously.
The trouble of being stuck in a middling blur of emotions is that we're like a 5-foot man in a 6-foot pool. As long as you keep struggling to stay afloat, you'll be gradually drowning.
What you need to do (in this analogy, you can't swim - humour me) is to relax, sink to the bottom till your feet touch the floor of the pool, push up, take a breath and sink down again.
Keep repeating until you reach the edge of the pool. That's how you get to live.
Feel the feelings
Let your feelings take their course. Feeling down? Let the feeling run its course. When you reach the bottom, you'll easily kick up.
If you're struggling in a pool that's just a little over your head, it can feel as if the pool is infinitely deep because you never touch bottom. But just relax a little and sink a little and you'll realise it wasn't so deep after all.
Kick up. Take a breath. You can do this.
Allow your emotions to run their course.
Pain is a messenger
Physical pain is a messenger.
A man went to the doctor and said, "Doc, it hurts when I do this."
The doc said, "Stop doing it."
That's a joke that illustrates what pain is trying to tell us:
Stop doing that. Do something different.
That's why allowing your emotions to run their course is healthy. Your pain will lead you through to the other side, out of the pain-inducing patterns.
You'll just need to watch out, though. If you're dwelling in pain without getting out, then something's not right. The process isn't completing.
Pain is meant to bring you through to the other side.
But that means it has to bring you further in first.
Often, we have a little inkling of pain. A gnawing emptiness, perhaps. And we immediately try to assuage it with distractions like TikTok (check mine out!).
These distractions can keep us from feeling the pain more acutely, but they also keep us from going through to the other side.
So, what now?
Follow your pain out to pleasure
You need to be willing to sit with the pain. To sit alone, in the dark, eyes closed. No distractions. To let the pain speak to you and then lead you through.
To go into the darkness and face yourself. Like Luke Skywalker meeting Darth Vader in that huge banyan tree in Dagobah, only to find out that he himself is Vader.
You need to sit with the pain in the silence and darkness.
That's how you see the light, hear the leading, and move out of the pain.
Now, excuse me. I need to go do it.