Transforming Emotions – The Way to Peace
If we are feeling an emotion there is a reason we are feeling it. It wants to be felt. Often, however, we prefer not to feel. Instead we either rationalise the emotions away, deal with them in a patronising way, project them on others by not taking responsibility or develop behaviours to avoid feeling like drugs/alcohol or continuously keeping busy and under adrenaline.
An example of how we patronise our emotions is when we feel fear but tell ourselves that there is no real reason to be afraid and we shouldn’t be. Examples of how we project emotions on to others are easy to come across. Like when we long for more connection or space in a relationship and blame the other for not being the way we want. Or in a work context when for example we feel insecure but instead of admitting this to ourselves we blame our boss behind their back for not being supportive.
The drawback is that when we use any of the tactics described above to effectively avoid our emotions they don’t go away. In fact they become more powerful and we are stuck in the same patterns over and over again.
And avoidance has side effects. The price we pay for avoiding depends on the strategy we use. When we are more on the analytical, emotion patronising side we can lose some of our spontaneity, access to life energy and creativity because all that rationalizing away takes lots of controlling. When we are on the projecting side we can create a lot of drama.
So what’s the answer? The answer is to take the time to feel the emotions without trying to change them. Be it anger, frustration, sadness, fear of abandonment, fear of underperforming, shame... Many of these emotions have their roots in early experiences of disappointment, lack of support, etc. And typically when we experienced the difficult situation we were not able to fully feel what needed to be felt and work through it, which is why the emotions keep coming into our lives now.
But this is some really unpleasant stuff… Why should I take time to feel this?
The amazing truth is that emotions are a lot more unpleasant when we resist them than when we let them come and really feel them. Once felt, insecurity and fear of underperforming can transform into vulnerability and courage. Or fear of abandonment can transform into a deep sadness and when in turn felt again with acceptance transform into a sweet, comforting feeling.
How can meditation help with all this? The 3 key ingredients to transforming emotions can be practised in meditation and also in everyday waking life:
SLOWING DOWN – to notice what is actually going on
WATCHFUL PRESENCE – to bring awareness and allow whatever is there
ACCEPTANCE/SELF-COMPASSION – to allow whatever is there to be felt in a non-judgemental way
When we learn to bring these qualities to our emotional states it is as if we welcomed them and offered a place for this part of us to be cared for, which ultimately is all we need to transform.
The meditation tracks “Your Wisdom” can be a support by providing the container for feeling the difficult emotions during a conflict.